After a webpage has been shut down, is no longer available, or is modified you might want to see old versions of websites for various reasons. You can travel in time and retrieve an archived version of the website you wish to either reference it or view its older content or get inspiration from a previous page design. The online historical databases will allow you to see old versions of websites that are captured at specific moments in time.
Thankfully there many online tools to help you do this and in this article, we will show you all the most comprehensive databases to see old versions of websites using various resources. Being able to retrieve old websites that no longer exist will prove to be more useful than just taking a trip down memory lane. Let’s get into details as to why and how you can see old versions of websites with just a few clicks.
Why find and see old versions of websites?
They say that the internet is eternal, by all means, it is. Even though your website might crash or you might delete a website, there are still ways to find those old versions of websites and view their cached versions via various tools and resources.
There are multiple reasons as to why you would want to search and retrieve cached versions of websites among them being:
- Most websites undergo changes and updates throughout their livelihood, you might want to find an old version of a website because you are looking for design inspiration from a particular website.
- Another common reason as to why you want to see old versions of websites is because you wish to retrieve older content that is no longer online or available
- If you are redesigning your website, you might need before and after snapshots to see the difference, and you can use them either in design research or for demonstration purposes
- If you wish to cite a resource that you found valuable but is no longer available you can use the resources shown below to find the information from older versions of websites.
How to view the cached version of a website with Google Cache
Google crawls web pages and saves an HTML copy of the website which are usually called cached pages. It is quite simple to view cached websites using Google as a tool. You will be able to view a website that is slow or not responding.
This can help SEO experts to calculate the indexing issues. The moment Google crawls a website it captures a screenshot of the webpage and indexes the content for future references. Using the method we will show below you will be able to see the date when Google indexed the page. You can also use Google Cache to see when was the last time a particular website or page was visited by Google bots.
First, type in the name of the website or page you are trying to see the cached version of. You can simply do that from Google’s search box. Right beside the URL you will see a small pointed-down arrow, click on it and then click on Cached.
Google will redirect you to the cached version of that particular website.
On the top bar, you can find valuable information as to when was the last time Google indexed the page alongside the exact date and time when the screenshot was taken. Also, you have the option to view the text-only version of the page. You will be able to interact with the page normally.
Another alternative to view cached websites that is much easier is by typing cache: in the address bar and then type the URL of the website you want to visit. This will generate the cached version of that particular website.
4 Tools you can use to see old versions of websites
There are a few tools and resources available online that will help you see old versions of websites at a particular point in time. These tools take snapshots of websites as a cached version in different time stamps. They then archive these web pages, allowing you to access them easily.
These tools work something like the backup process of your website, the only difference is that these old versions of websites are available for everyone to see, not just you the site owner. Usually, you can find copies and snapshots of various cached versions of websites, but the results depend on the popularity of that particular website and the traffic it generates.
We will first introduce you to the most comprehensive web archive that stores over 554 billion archived web pages. The Internet Archive is a digital library of the web that contains websites, books, audio, recordings, even software.
Wayback Machine is a product of Internet Archive that provides you with millions of website screenshots from different time slots. Wayback Machine is an amazing tool to view old websites or even live ones.
To find an old version of a website using Wayback Machine simply type in the URL of the website in the designated field, like this.
The next screen will generate a graph that contains copies of websites allocated through the years. To view how a website used to be in a particular time period simply click on the year from the graph shown below.
Here you can see a detailed calendar that contains snapshots of that particular website and how it used to be. Upon each date, you can see a blue or green circle. The larger the circle the more cached versions of that webpage you can find. Click on the circle from a specific date and there you will have the snapshots of the respective website.
Upon clicking on the snapshot you will be able to see and interact with the website as would normally. You can click on links, view the images, navigate from page to page. Everything is accessible.
Wayback Machine is a great tool to see old versions of websites that are no longer available or do not exist, but you can also search for an existing website if you are ever curious how they used to be in the past. You should keep in mind that not every link will work and not every page will be accessible to navigate due to the page not being cached.
Archive.Today is a great tool that also represents a time couples to store websites online forever. It will take snapshots of websites and save them on its database. These snapshots will forever be online even when the website itself does not exist anymore. Through a reliable link, you will be able to access an unchangeable version of the page. It also saves a text and graphical copy of the page for more flexibility.
Archive.Today offers the possibility to save your website and its content as well as to search and find existing websites that have been previously saved. You can easily see old versions of websites, view the webpage as it currently is, save it and download the page on your computer.
It’s as simple as typing the URL in the second field, the one where you search the archive for saved snapshots.
You can first see the oldest and the newest website versions of a particular domain. When you click upon a particular image or link it will redirect you to the cached version of the website and you can interact with the page easily. Although not all interactions will be accessible.
One of the most unique tools on the list, Oldweb.today is an amazing time-encapsulated machine that allows you to find and see old versions of websites using old browsers that were functioning at the time.
This tool will give you throwback chills and take you on a trip to the past, where you can engage with old web pages. Oldweb.today pulls the old versions of websites using digital libraries like Internet Archive and other resources around the web.
Note that the delivery process can be slow and take some time, yet it will emulate old browsers like Intern Explorer and Netscape. Once you’ve landed on the oldweb.today’s landing page to find a cached version of a particular website you will need to first select a browser from the dropdown list. Next type in the URL of the website you wish to explore and make sure the “Browse Archives at” option is selected.
Hit on Enter and wait for the results to be shown. Once the process of retrieving old versions of a website is completed you will be able to see the website display. You can, of course, navigate through the website, easily click on links or copy text from the website.
The Library of Congress Web Archive is a comprehensive and powerful tool that manages, preserves, and provides a digital collection of archived websites, newspapers, books, audios, and books. You can search through the extensive library and see old versions of websites without a hassle. The tool is designed to help researchers find content that’s available for today and the future, even when such content is deleted.
We are aware that new websites appear at a very high-speed rate due to the extreme accessibility of the internet, URLs changes, content changes, that is why the Library of Congress Web Archive stores publicly available content that lets you search through it with ease. To start exploring this tool all you need to do is provide the URL of the website you wish to search for its old content and click on the search button.
The search results will be similar to that of Wayback Machine, meaning the functionality will be the same as well. Pick a particular year to which you ant to see old versions of websites and then click again on the particular date for the data to be shown and it will bring the cached website.
Note that some of the websites will be outside the scope of the Library of Congress. For low-profile websites, make sure to use the other three solutions presented are better suited for the job.
Extensions and Web Tools
Browsers extensions can also access cached websites and allow you to see old versions of websites. One such tool can be the Chrome extension, Web Cache Viewer. Add the extension to your browser and whenever you want to view a cached version of a website simply right-click on the page and you will be able to see the results either with Google Cache or Wayback Machine.
There’s also the online tool Cached Page that offers the possibility to view cached Google versions and pages by simply inserting the URL of a particular website. It works similarly to Google Cache. It displays all the cached information at the top of the page including the time stamp of the snapshot taken.
In this comprehensive guide, we shared all our secrets to teaching you how to see old versions of websites and gave a tutorial on all the most used and effective tools available online. While doing research for old content or you simply want to find an old cached version of a website, it’s as simple as typing down the URL and start the research.
You can use the various tools presented for multiple reasons as mentioned above. Feel free to share some of your secrets to finding and searching for old content on the web that is not currently available.