The Internet is dynamic, fluid, and constantly reinventing itself. Websites change rapidly. Pages on various sites may be removed because the site owners think that they are no longer necessary or relevant. Or web pages may be lost or relocated during site revamps. And, of course, entire sites may disappear overnight.
Wouldn’t it be great if there was a place that you could go to find older versions of web pages that may have gone offline or been lost somewhere in the wilds of cyberspace? A massive and constantly updated storage facility that allows you to find and view literally millions of archived web pages going back many years? Wouldn’t that be fabulous?
For me, the Wayback Machine is one of the most useful sites on the Internet and one that I use regularly. Why do I find it so useful? I’ve been publishing stories here on Hoax-Slayer for around 15 years now. And most of the reports I’ve published during those years include links to external web pages that back up my findings and allow readers to verify my information for themselves if they wish.
But, inevitably, some of the pages I’ve linked to in these reports are no longer there. So, visitors who click them will get a “Page Not Found” error. Sometimes, when I’m updating an older report, I can locate a new version of the resource and simply relink it.
Alas, quite often, the original resource — and sometimes the entire website — has disappeared. But, if I copy the URL to the dead resource and plug it into the Wayback Machine’s “Browse History” search field, more often than not I’ll find an archived copy of the page I’m looking for. I can then copy the Wayback Machine web address to this archived copy and use it to update the resource link in my article. That way, my site visitors can still view a version of the resource that I originally linked to.
Of course, updating old links is just one of the ways that the Wayback Machine is useful. The site is also an amazing resource for journalists, researchers, historians, and ordinary Internet users who are looking for information that is no longer available at its original location. The Wayback Machine is also very handy for web developers who might want to quickly review an older version of their content or site layout.
The Internet Archive relies on donations from the public to keep it online and allow it to continue its vital work.
The Internet Archive’s founder Brewster Kahle explains:
We need your help to ensure that anyone curious enough to seek knowledge will be able to find it here, for free. We’re an independent, non-profit website that the entire world depends on. If the Internet Archive is useful to you, please take one minute to keep our services improving and free for everyone. Together we are building the public libraries of the future.
If you have found the Wayback Machine as helpful a resource as I have over the years, I hope you’ll consider donating a few dollars to help keep this amazing service up and running. I try to contribute regularly.