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Web Scraping vs Web Crawling

These two terms are commonly used interchangeably however they are technically different forms of the same art.

Web scraping is any automated process that collects data from the web while crawling is a subset of web scraping which involves web exploration.


In other words, crawlers not only collect web data but find more links to follow and scrape. All web crawlers are scrapers but not all scrapers are crawlers.

Most commonly, crawlers are used in web indexing (think Google) or broad data collection (like AI training) while most scrapers work with a single website or resource and do not require complex exploration capabilities.

Crawling should be avoided where directed web scraping is possible, as it is more resource intensive and can be much more difficult to maintain.