Can a free email extractor be any good? How can it stack up against the paid for options for features and reliability? Read on to find out more.
Automation of extracting emails from disorganized data sources such as text files, URLs or plain, pasted text delivers both time saving and effectiveness efficiencies.
When looking at the tools available for mining email data, there are several options to consider:
- Desktop or server software. This is the type of software that you typically buy, download, install and run on a desktop or server computer.
- On-line services. Usually consisting of an application hosted on the web and accessible using a web browser. Of these on-line services, some are paid options whilst others are free.
Given that most desktop / server options require a fee to enable full functionality, let's focus on the on-line options for the sake of simplicity when looking at the paid versus free options.
"Machine" Analogy and Overview
I use the word "machine" as it exactly describes this type of computer operation. Any "machine" has at least one input, an engine and an output.
Essential Functionality of Email Extractors
In the case of our email extractor, the three parts of the "machine" analogy are:
- An input - e.g. URL, text file or pasted data.
- An engine (or a processor expressed in "computerese") - a computer program with some idea of how to recognise email addresses in streams of raw data.
- An output - where to pump out the results e.g. text file, on a web page, by email.
Non Functional & Operational Considerations
There are also several issues to consider over and above the core and optional features of the on-line service.
Delivering high availability (i.e systems that rarely fail) may or may not be important to the service owner. For service owners providing free on-line email extraction services, the cost associated with providing high availability cannot be met and therefore "free" services might not be as reliable as paid alternatives.
If high availability is important to you, perhaps a paid on-line provider might be worth some consideration. Paid providers usually provide a support system as a bare minimum. Free services are usually maintained on a best efforts basis.
So, can free email extractors be any good? The answer is that it depends on your requirements and expectations.
If you simply need an on-line extractor for the odd, one-off file then, yes, free extractors probably make sense for you.
If, however, your business regularly relies on data extraction as part of another business process then a paid for alternative might make sense.