Sometimes you just want to go to an old website that you saved in the favorites long ago, only to discover that the website doesn’t exist anymore (404 page, ERR_NAME_NOT_RESOLVED, etc.). Other times, you need to open a web page immediately for a resource and it is temporary down for maintenance or offline. What to do in these cases? Surf a copy of those websites saved in the Google Web Cache or in the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. Read on for the details and a bonus plugin.
Google Web Cache
When Google indexes a website, it saves a copy of it on its servers. Crawling time intervals vary from domain to domain, so this solution works only for pages that went offline recently. To visit a copy of a specific website, just add its address in the last part of this URL:
there’s also a variant of this URL, that allows you to search for specific keywords in a certain domain:
Google doesn’t save images in its servers, so it won’t display them in its cache copy. Also, when you click on a link on a cache copy, it will open (or try to) the actual website: to continue surfing the cache, you need to manually change that link in the Google Web Cache URL.
Another solution, maybe easier, is to look for that website or page on Google, and then selecting Cache copy in the drop-down menu accessible from the small arrow near the website URL:
Internet Archive Wayback Machine
The Internet Archive is a no-profit organization that saves and preserve knowledge, accessibile from anyone. It has been saving copies of websites from around the world for many years, accessible through an interface called Wayback Machine. You just have to type the address of the website that you want to visit and, if available in its archives, a calendar interface will appear, allowing you to select the time period you’re interested in:
Once selected, the cache copy will open, in the same way as it appeared back in the time period you selected: you can fully surf it, clicking internal links without troubles; it will also display images. From the menu in the top bar you can go back and forth in time, of course just if another copy (older or newer) of the website is available:
Bonus: WebCache Plugin
WebCache is a Google Chrome plugin that adds a button to your browser to surf the cache copy of the current website saved on the services that we discussed until now:
Do you know other solutions to visit old or offline websites? Did you like this article? Leave a comment! 🙂