I had bookmarked a web page but it seems unavailable now. I’ve been trying for 2 days and even the main web site does not load. Looks like the entire web site has been removed. Is there a way to view a deleted web page?
The internet is a dynamic medium. Things change very fast – old pages are removed and new ones added. Typically, when pages and sites are modified or moved, the developers make use of redirection methods so that visitors do not find themselves at sea and get to the desired content quickly.
But if the entire web site is taken down and has been offline for many days, it’s unlikely that it will come back. So how can you view a deleted web page – one which is no longer available?
I employ two services to retrieve an old web page or web site – the Google cache data and the Wayback Machine. The old deleted web page would probably be available on one of these if it had been online for some time. Please understand that you may not see the latest changes made on the page because it all depends when it was indexed by the two services.
The Wayback Machine available at archive.org lets you check out an entire web site. Type the URL and click the search button. The result page is quite informative because it shows you when the site was first available and the changes it has gone through over the years. Click on any date to view the home page of the web site. Here is the Wayback Machine result for Hotmail – the popular web based email service.
The Google search engine stores the old content from web sites in a cache. These are accessible via the “Cached” link beside the page listing in the Google search results page. It’s quite possible that the page has also been taken out of the Google index in which case you are left with the Wayback Machine option.
Assuming Google indexes web pages more often than the Wayback Machine, the cached pages may provide a more recent version but the layout is often messed up. Images and other embedded content would also not show up if the web site is no longer online.
John Wainwright was Amazon's very first customer. He bought Douglas Hofstadter's "Fluid Concepts And Creative Analogies: Computer Models Of The Fundamental Mechanisms Of Thought" for $27.95. John has retained the book along with the packing slip (from April 1995) and hopes Jeff Bezos would buy it one day for loads of money! [more...]