Find Older Versions of a Website with the Wayback Machine

Another quick tip for this evening.

With a vast amount of content appearing, changing and disappearing on the Internet every day, month and year there may come a time when you want to find something that once existed in a particular form. Unless you were lucky enough to save a copy of a particular website at the required point of time you might find yourself in a bit of a pickle (especially if the site has since been taken down).

Luckily, there is website that archives internet content and makes it searchable for your convenience. The Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive diligently crawls and indexes internet content but can take some time before it will appear in the archive (in some cases up to 24 months). For instance, none of the content of this blog created since January this year has appeared in the archive at the time of writing.

As you can imagine, attempting to archive and make available the entire contents of the Internet requires a massive amount of storage and infrastructure. At current count, the Wayback Machine has archived over 150 billion pages since 1996 – quite amazing when you think about it. It’s important to note that the Wayback Machine may not necessarily contain every version that existed of a website particularly if it was updated more frequently than it was crawled.

So give it a go and look up some of your favourite websites – you might be amazed by what you can find!

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