Wayback Machine, i.e. website archive. We explain how it works and when it is useful

Wayback Machine - website archive

There are many services on the web that make it easier for us to access information. One of such solutions is the Wayback Machine – a simple tool that is a kind of Internet time machine. If you haven’t heard of it yet, keep reading. It is very possible that sooner or later it will be of great use to you.

What is the Wayback Machine and when is it useful?

It is said that nothing is lost on the internet There is something to it, but there is no doubt that the resources available on the web are subject to some changes. There are situations when a given website is temporarily unavailable or its content has changed and we were interested in the previous version of the website. This is where the Wayback Machine comes in handy – a tool that was created in 2001. Behind it is the organization Internet Archive, which aims to collect and share digital resources.

The Wayback Machine makes it possible to display a given website as it was a few days, weeks, months or even many years ago . This tool will come in handy in the following situations:

  • We want to revisit interesting content from a website that has been temporarily hidden or withdrawn from publication
  • We urgently need to display a site that is temporarily unavailable, e.g. due to server overload
  • We want to see the data on the website that has been overwritten (e.g. what the university timetable looked like for the previous year in a given field of study)
  • We deal with SEO and we want to see the code of the old version of the website to find elements that could be responsible for the worse visibility of the website in search results
  • We are curious to see how the appearance of our favorite websites has changed over the years

How to use the Wayback Machine?

How to use the Wayback Machine

The Wayback Machine is available as a search engine on the Web Archive and Internet Archive pages . Its operation is very simple. We enter the address of the website we are interested in, and then a calendar will be displayed with the days from which the saved copies of the website come from . If you want to go back a few years, the timeline at the top of the screen will also help. After clicking on the selected day and time, we will be able to see what the page looked like then.

In general, the more popular a website, the more archival records we can browse. Nothing stands in the way of seeing how nationwide news websites or global e-commerce platforms are changing day by day . However, there may be a problem with finding an archival version of a little-known blog that has been active for a short time.

The entire site with all subpages is not always saved in the archive. It may therefore happen that when we try to click individual elements on the archived record of the page, something will not work or we will be transferred to the record from another day. It is best, so if we have such an opportunity, immediately enter the exact address of the subpage that interests us in the Wayback Machine search engine.

What else does the Internet Archive have in its resources?

What else does the Internet Archive have in its resources

We have already mentioned that the Wayback Machine is a tool from the Internet Archive organization. On its website you will find a library of music files, movies , software and books . Nothing stands in the way of seeing, for example, a record of a television broadcast from several years ago or listening to a concert from many months ago. Importantly, the content is available for free and without registering an account.

As you can see, if we need to access an archived version of a website, it is possible. The Wayback Machine tool will be useful both for obtaining specific information that has seemingly disappeared from the web , and for checking the detailed data of the page, which SEO specialists will use. Each of us can also use the Wayback Machine to recall what individual websites looked like in the past.

main photo: Markus Spiske / Unsplash, Web Archive

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