The Coolest Thing Ever: Archive.org

By afilushafilush (1254194823|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

I'm not sure this fully qualifies as part of the search industry, but I am so excited about this new website so I have to share.

I came across this website while reading an article on searchenginejournal.com, and instantly found my new favorite activity: searching old web pages. The article was titled "3 Ways to Easily See an Archived Version of a Web Page." While it contained some very relevant and useful information about add-ons to Firefox that allow you to view old/lost web pages, the real gem was in the website they mentioned in it, Archive.org, better know as the "Wayback Machine." Archive.org is a web site that constantly scans the web and stores web pages into its vaults, allowing searchers to view pages as if it was [insert whatever date you desire]. Not only can this be an incredibly fun waste of your time, but it has some extremely relevant professional and educational uses as well. Ill explain.

Reasons for Viewing Old Web Pages

Some of you probably are not as excited about this as I am, but I encourage you to give it a try with a few of your favorite websites. Here are some reasons you should use this site and some examples for you to look at.

Reasons for Using Archive.org

  1. The website you are interested in viewing is down temporarily/forever and you want to view the page anyway
  2. To see how the page used to look like or when it was first recorded
  3. To find out what was going on historically on a certain day
  4. Used in the legal system, mostly for copyright infringement and similar cases

Examples:

These links are from archive.org and are not just images of the site, but fully functional websites you can click through like a real-time web page. I even tried clicking through a link to another site, and I was fine, browsing the internet in 1999!

How it Works

The Wayback Machines goal is to take "snapshots" of the World Wide Web that users can later search. Snapshots become available 6 to 18 months after they are archived. The frequency of snapshots changes, so every day is not available, but users can join the site and choose websites the Wayback Machine should follow, as well to archive material immediately. The website currently has 150 billion webpages archived, starting in 1996.

My Thoughts

I find this website to be incredibly entertaining and useful. I often like to go back and view old news stories, and I run into the situation where I am researching a topic and I want to find information relating to it or that happened at the same time. This site, in combination with the add-ons from the article, will ensure that I won't ever miss out on a websites I want to see, regardless of the date.

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