Digital Preservation: Using the WayBack Machine

About This Document

This document explains how the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine may have automatically archived previous versions of your website and how such copies can be viewed. Details of how current pages on your website which are not archived can be added are provided.

This document is the first in a series of documents on website archiving: the second is “Digital Preservation: Submitting Your Website to the UK Web Archive“.

Introduction

Do you have an interest in old photographs of morris dancing? Or records of the history of teams? It seems many people do. But not many know that information held on websites may already be archived and freely available. Or that you can submit pages on a current website for immendiate archival. 

The Internet Archive’s WayBack Machine

If you go to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine (address https://archive.org/web/) you can then give the URL of your team’s website (or any website you may have an interest in) and you will be able to access old versions of the website. For example, as shown below, there have been 146 archival copies of the Newcastle Kingsmen’s website taken since 2004.


Figure 1: Pages of the Newcastle Kingsmen’s website archived by the Wayback Machine.

You can then click on any of the dates to see the information held on the website on that date. For example here is the Newcastle Kingsmen’s Photo Gallery from 14 August 2004:

Figure 2: A page on the Newcastle Kimngsmen’s website from 14 August 2004

The key piece of information is the team’s website URL. Note that if you have a URL of a non-existent URL you can still access an archival copy, if a copy was taken. For example, the first website for the Sallyport Sword was http://www.sallyport.org/. This website no longer exists, but an archival copy from 2006 can viewed. From this we can see that knowledge of the history of your team’s domain names can be valuable in keeping a record of your team’s history.


The Internet Archive will normally archive public websites automatically – but it may not archive every page on a website. If you wish to ensure a particular page is archive, you can submit the page as described in an article on “If You See Something, Save Something – 6 Ways to Save Pages In the Wayback Machine”.


Status of this Document

Document created: 1 Aug 2021

Licence for this Document

This document is available with a Creative Commons Sharealike (CC-BY) licence. In brief, this means you can copy and make changes to this document provided you give acknowledgements to the author/publisher. A suggested wording for acknowledgements is:

This document is based on the “Digital Preservation: Using the WayBack Machine” document by Brian Kelly, Comms and IT volunteer with the Morris Federation.

About the Author

Brian Kelly joined the Newcastle Kingsmen in 1978 and for many years was a prize-winning Betty for them. He has also danced with Sallyport Sword Dancers and Northgate Rapper as well as the now-defunct Green Ginger Morris, Phoenix Sword and Black Cap sides. He is currently a dancer with Haymarket Rapper and Wyld Morris.

Brian help set up a website for the University of Leeds in January 1993 – one of the first 100 websites in the world. During most of his professional career he was a national web adviser to UK Universities.


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