The Wayback Machine – A How-to

One of our discussion participants recently lamented that when a certain web domain went dark, he lost years worth of blog posts that were hosted on that site. My first thought was to check the Wayback Machine, an online archive of content from the past. With the Wayback Machine, you can see the content and styling of a site as it was at the time it was archived by the Wayback system.

Using the Wayback Machine, I was able to point this guy to four pages of complete posts with images and everything… easily 10,000 words of writing he had thought were lost forever. If you want to check the Internet of the past, the simple instructions are after the jump.

First, point your favorite browser to¬†archive.org, then look for a simple little text box close to the top of the screen, that should look something like this…

At archive.org, look for this search box. Enter the url for which you wish to view the past.

At archive.org, look for this search box. Enter the url for which you wish to view the past.

Enter the address you’re looking for, and click the “Take Me Back” button. For this example, we’ll look at past designs of blog.purplearth.net.

Entering the address and clicking the button brings up a timeline and a calendar, indicating the dates that archives have been recorded…

The timeline of the Wayback Machine, indicating dates of past archives.

The timeline of the Wayback Machine, indicating dates of past archives.

Click on the timeline to select a year, then click one of the highlighted dates on the calendar to see how the site looked on that specific date. Here’s what I got when I clicked on March 10 on the above map, the only date archived for 2013….

blog.purplearth.net, as it looked on March 10, 2013, as archived on the Wayback Machine.

blog.purplearth.net, as it looked on March 10, 2013, as archived on the Wayback Machine.

As it turns out, this was almost exactly a week before we switched to the purplearth_s theme, so we see what the site looked like back in the old purplearth2010 theme.

The timeline is still on the top of the screen, so we can click anywhere on the timeline to see the current snapshot from that time.

Clicking on the timeline to go back to August 2010.

Clicking on the timeline to go back to August 2010.

Clicking on August 2010 gets us back to an even earlier look to this site…

A snapshot of the purplearth blog from August 2010.

A snapshot of the purplearth blog from August 2010.

And if we want, we can look at snapshots from as far back as 2006, just by clicking on the timeline..

The earliest snapshot of the purplearth blog available on the Wayback Machine.

The earliest snapshot of the purplearth blog available on the Wayback Machine.

Here we see the purplearth blog under its original title, “A Different Reality.” And the Wayback Machine is an example of the different reality we now live in, where we can go back in time on the web.

Feel free to try it with whatever address you wish, and enjoy the power and simplicity of this elegant tool.

 

 

Speak Up!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *