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Our technology blogs feature IT tips and best practices for businesses in Columbia, Baltimore, Bel Air and in and about Maryland since 2002.

Data Scraping Explained

Data Scraping Explained

There are times when you, as a business owner, might receive unsolicited emails from organizations asking you to try a product or asking for your input on something. More likely than not, the one responsible used data scraping to get your contact information. If it’s used appropriately, data scraping can be an effective marketing tool, but it can also be utilized by scammers to make your life miserable.

What is Data Scraping?

Data, or web scraping, is when you export data from a web page to a spreadsheet or local file. Chances are that this is the method you’ve used when taking data off the Internet or a web page. Basically, it’s as simple as data transfer, taking it and moving it to a different location in the form of a file on your computer. This file can be manipulated and adjusted as needed. It’s not the best method of transferring data, but it’s useful for certain situations.

How Can It Be Used?

Here are some of the ways an average business might use data scraping:

  • Comparing the costs of various goods, products, or services in one single document.
  • Conducting market research to generate new leads; this is primarily for public data sources, as depending on the location, data scraping of directories, websites, or social media can be illegal.
  • Researching web content for the purposes of building up your business.
  • Gathering data for easy analysis and providing it with structure

There are other uses for data scraping, but this should give you a broad general understanding of how it might be used by businesses. It can help you find the best deal on a product, research your competitors, compile data from a web source, and so on. There are plenty of tools out there that can make the process easy and efficient—just get in touch with us and we can point you in the right direction.

What About Hackers?

Data scraping can be used by people for email harvesting, particularly when it comes to scammers and hackers. Many organizations house employee contact information in a publicly available directory on their websites. If someone can scrape this information, they can sell it to spammers and hackers, and you don’t need us to tell you that this information being used in spam and phishing campaigns is bad news. Plus, depending on the location, using this information for commercial purposes is illegal, and it leaves a bad taste in peoples’ mouths. This doesn’t stop scammers and spammers, though, so you’d best be on your guard.

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