Web Scraping vs. API: Which One's Best For Data Extraction?

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Raj Vardhman
Written by
Raj Vardhman

Updated · Aug 24, 2023

Raj Vardhman
Chief Strategist, Techjury | Project Engineer, WP-Stack | Joined January 2023 | Twitter LinkedIn
Raj Vardhman

Raj Vardhman is a tech expert and the Chief Tech Strategist at TechJury.net, where he leads the rese... | See full bio

April Grace Asgapo
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April Grace Asgapo


April Grace Asgapo
Joined June 2023 | LinkedIn
April Grace Asgapo

April is a proficient content writer with a knack for research and communication. With a keen eye fo... | See full bio

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Data extraction is the process of gathering specific information from different sources. 

This method involves getting the relevant data needed for a particular purpose. It can include extracting raw data from databases, spreadsheets, or other sources. 

The extracted data is copied or replicated to another location for organization and processing. Extracting data is primarily essential for organizations. It allows them to gather and analyze large amounts of data from the Internet. 

Organizations use two common approaches to data extraction: web scraping and application programming interface (API). 

This article will discuss the similarities and differences between these two methods. Continue reading to find out which one is the best to use in data extraction. 

🔑Key Takeaways

  • When extracting data, specific needs and situations determine your choice between web scraping and application programming interface (API). 
  • Web scraping is different from API based on these criteria: access, data extraction, technical knowledge, and cost. 
  • Web scraping and APIs are legal if the data extraction follows the guidelines. Excessive data extraction leads to server crashes and becomes a potential Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. 

Which Is The Best Way To Extract Data?

The choice between web scraping and APIs for data extraction depends on your needs and situation.

If the website you want to gather data from does not offer an API or if the API is not providing the desired data, web scraping is best used. It can also be effective if the website is small and lacks significant anti-bot systems.

An API is better if the website provides well-documented and affordable API endpoints that grant access to your needed data.

While APIs may require custom application development, web scraping usually has tools available. This includes free browser extensions or paid service providers, which make it accessible without any coding required.

There is no best way to extract data. A combination of web scraping and APIs can leverage the advantages of both approaches.

💡Did You Know? Data extraction doesn't end with the use of web scraping or API. Most of the extracted data are raw, unstructured, and unactionable. Data parsing converts and leverages data for business insights and decision-making processes. Here's a comprehensive list of the market's most reliable and popular data parsing tools

Web Scraping vs. APIs

Web scraping and APIs are two different methods of accessing and collecting website data.

Web scraping involves extracting data from websites or web pages. These data include various types of content (images, videos, or texts) from publicly accessible web pages. 

The extracted data is then saved as a data file. This can be done manually or through web scraping tools or software.

Meanwhile, APIs are rules or protocols that allow a computer to interact with a website. They establish a connection between the computer and the website, enabling the former to request and receive specific data from the latter. 

An API acts as an automated data pipeline where the website provides data to the requester on a scheduled basis.

👍Helpful Article: E-commerce is one industry that relies on data extraction to acquire valuable insights about consumer behavior and monitor prices, enhancing their marketing strategies and giving them a competitive advantage. 

The table below compares web scraping and APIs:


Web Scraping



You can collect data from any website.

It is limited to websites with API endpoints.

Data Extraction

Subject to anti-bot systems and potential blocking.

It may have usage restrictions and policies.

Technical Knowledge

Web scraping requires scripting and custom logic development.

It is generally supported by vendor documentation.


It involves expenses for development and server hosting.

An API can incur charges per call or based on available plans.

 Web scraping is a must-have skill for data extraction from websites. Whether it's market research or lead generation, it's valuable! 🚀

Web scraping API tools can automate the process & save you time & effort. 🥳

Here are 3 tools you can use. 👇🏻#webscraping #webscrapingapi pic.twitter.com/SoFUIwSQow

— Popupsmart (@popupsmartcom) May 26, 2023

Pros And Cons Of Web Scraping

Web scraping offers numerous advantages and capabilities, but it’s essential to consider both the benefits and limitations of this approach.

The pros and cons of web scraping are outlined in the table below:



Automates data collection from multiple websites

Requires regular upkeep as it may break due to changing website structures

Enables downloading and organizing data locally in spreadsheets or databases

Processing and understanding the collected data is time-consuming.

Allows the scheduling of real-time data extraction, which guarantees the data is always up-to-date

Some websites may block IP addresses due to excessive requests.

Provides accurate data extraction

Access restrictions on certain websites based on geographic location may require proxy servers.

Offers greater flexibility in data collection and frequency compared to APIs

Websites with dynamic content may require headless browsers and additional resources for scraping.

Gathers data from multiple sources concurrently


Web Scraping in Marketing: How to boost your Marketing strategy

Pros And Cons Of APIs

An API offers a convenient method for retrieving structured data from websites. However, it also has disadvantages that must be considered.

Here’s a table showing the pros and cons of using APIs for data extraction:



No hardware overload

Limited functionality to a single website

Easy data access and processing

Requires multiple endpoints since not all data is accessible through a single one 

Easy implementation with developer credentials

Provider policy changes affects data extraction capabilities

Ideal for collecting large amounts of data quickly

Only a limited number of API requests are allowed at any given time.

Overcomes JavaScript rendering and CAPTCHA challenges

Limited access is based on restrictions like data extraction limits and geolocation restrictions.

Web scraping and APIs can be legal if certain conditions are met.

Avoid using black hat techniques or violating the website’s privacy policy in web scraping. It is essential to respect the website owner’s rights over their data. 

This is most important if they have robots.txt in place. These standards indicate that the website does not want anyone to scrape their data without permission, even if it’s publicly available.

Excessive downloading of data should be avoided to prevent server crashes. It will be flagged as a potential Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack.

On the other hand, websites provide APIs to access their data. Pulling data through the API is entirely legal. Follow the website guidelines when using their API, and do not share your API access with others.

👍Helpful Article: Geo-targeting through the use of scraping browsers is helpful for businesses because location-specific data allow them to tailor fit their offerings to: 

  • suit regional preferences
  • target specific demographics
  • optimize advertising campaigns

Bottom Line

In web scraping, the focus is on extracting content from publicly available web pages and storing it as a data file. 

In APIs, the emphasis is on establishing a data flow between the website and the requester. It targets specific parts of the website’s content.

Both of these data extraction methods offer distinct advantages for extracting data. The best approach varies depending on the specific requirements of your project.


Do you need API for web scraping?

No, you don’t always need an API for web scraping. APIs can be used, but they’re not mandatory. You can scrape websites without APIs by directly extracting the HTML content from the page.

How do you grab data from an API?

To grab data from an API, you can manually access it through a browser or use Python to fetch it. Then, you can automatically save the data into a database for storage and further use.

Does every website need an API?

Not all websites require an API, but it’s not always optional. A website’s ability to process and manage data is limited without an API.


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