The Wayback Machine: Fighting Digital Extinction in New Ways

Extinction isn’t just a biological issue. In the 21st century, it’s a technical, even digital one, too.

The average web page might last three months before it’s altered or deleted forever. You never know when access to the information on these web pages is going to be needed. It might be three months from now; it might be three decades. That’s how the Wayback Machine serves—making history by saving history. Now, the Wayback Machine is fighting digital extinction in brand new ways.

Wayback MachineAs the Internet Archive prepares for its anniversary celebration on Oct. 23, our Wayback Team is unveiling some new features to make what some call “the memory of the web” even more detailed and responsive. 

Try out some of our new Wayback Machine Features:

  • Changes: a new service enabling users to select two different versions of a given URL and compare them side by side. Differences in the text of the content are highlighted in yellow and blue.
Our new Wayback Changes tool highlights how a web page differs through time, comparing two versions of the same page side-by-side.
This is the high level view of “Changes.”

Just click the  “Changes” link at the top of the “Calendar View” page to find an index of archives of the selected URL with a high-level indicator of the degree of change between the available archives.  When no content has changed, the page appears in the same color. You can then select any two archived versions of the page so they can be rendered side-by-side with the changes between them highlighted in blue and yellow.  Best of all you can then share this “Changes” URL with others (e.g. via Twitter or embedded in a news story) so others can easily see the changes as well.  

  •  Save Page Now: an updated version of perhaps the most popular feature of the Wayback Machine. Of particular import is the new ability to archive all the embedded links and outlinks (connections to external web sites) with just one click.  
The new and improved Save Page Now function allows you to save web pages in various ways and share them in your own archive of favorites.

Also new is the ability for users to save web archives in a public directory of favorite items. It’s essentially a personal but public bookmarking system of pages that others can follow. Imagine how important this might be for future researchers, family members or fans interested in the web pages you chose to personally save for all time.

  • Collections:  A new way to learn about why a given URL has been archived into the Wayback Machine. Start by clicking the “Collections” link at the top of any “Calendar View” page. You will then be shown a list of all the collections that this URL is included in, plus you can select individual playback URLs from any of those Collections. Click on the Collection name to learn more about its provenance. And if it was created as part of the Internet Archive’s Archive-It service, you can execute full-text searches on archived web pages that are part of that collection.
  • Show All Captures: The Wayback Machine archives some URLs many times a day. In some cases hundreds, or even thousands of times a day. While all of those captures have been available for playback, the calendar view would only show a sampling of those captures. The new Show All Captures feature now presents a list of each and every capture available per day, even for captures that are made seconds apart.

Who will be using these new features? Earlier this month, Mark Graham, the Wayback Machine’s director, got a request from a TV journalist for help—not just for something Trumpian or Brexit-ish. Instead, the just-married journalist saw that her wedding day web page was about to expire and wanted to be sure it would be preserved. Using the new and improved Save Page Now, she was able to preserve the page (including all outlinks) with one click.

The Environmental Data & Governance Initiative (EDGI) partners with the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine in order to produce reports that monitor the government.

The Environmental Data and Government Initiative (EDGI) partners with the Wayback Machine in its work monitoring government websites with particular emphasis on environmental issues. Our new Changes feature will help them track and publicize how government agencies are deleting and altering information about climate change and environmental protection issues, by comparing and publishing web pages side-by-side.

Graham underscores that the Wayback Machine, which has many scholarly, historical and journalistic uses, “is relevant to how you live in the United States today. Wayback Machine captures are even admissible in many courts.”

 “It can be used for holding people and governments accountable,” he said. “At the same time, it can be used for other things, like a bride’s request to preserve a wedding page.”

Fighting digital extinction, the Wayback Machine way.

NOTE: On October 23rd, come by the Wayback Machine Demo station at our World Night Market event to meet the team who built these new features. You can purchase your tickets here.

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38 Responses to The Wayback Machine: Fighting Digital Extinction in New Ways

  1. Mason Pelt says:

    So I just read about Yahoo Groups clousing, will archive.org manage to back that up?

    • SD says:

      I wondered the same question. I hope Yahoo Groups archives will be saved depending if it’ll be on archive.org and/or Archive.today

    • Benjamin Tucker says:

      Yes, i belong to several yahoo synthesizer groups and it would be a tragedy if all this information were to be lost.

  2. Jason says:

    Hello John Hickey!

    Congratulations on the new release! Great work.

    It seems the account registration/sign up process is broken here. More specifically the google re-captcha is not working, hope you look into it 🙂

    Thank you for your great services.

  3. Andrew says:

    The Wayback machine is one of the useful tool on the internet. Especially for internet marketers like myself. I use this tool and can’t imagine a day without it.

    • Apex Soap says:

      I am using Wayback Machine since a very long time…. Its a very useful tool to get your lost data… btw Thnanks for sharing this article.. This is a very useful article which helps to know Wayback Machine tool better..

  4. Madbrad200 says:

    I’m having issues with the new archiving features (screenshots, outlinks), see https://i.imgur.com/P6TrjO8.png

    1. It claims to have successfully captured a snapshot, but if I click the link (in the screenshots case, https://web.archive.org/web/20191018175014/http://web.archive.org/screenshot/https://helloskepta.com/), it claims the archive has not in-fact saved the snapshot (specifically “The Wayback Machine has not archived that URL.”).
    2. The ‘saving outlinks and their embedded resources’ seems to be stuck on a forever loading loop (i’ve left it loading for an hour +). It never finishes.

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  8. Brandon Galbraith says:

    These are phenomenal feature enhancements! Thank you!

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  10. Berengar says:

    The biggest issue I see with The Wayback Machine is is 503 errors or such where it does have the snapshot of a page but can’t load the assets and/or cross-dependencies so the page doesn’t show. That effectively renders some of these saved snapshots useless.

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  13. I use this tool and can’t imagine a day without it.

  14. Bigg Boss 13 says:

    Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude! Thank you, However I am having difficulties with your RSS. I don’t understand the reason why I cannot join it. Is there anybody else having the same RSS issues? Anybody who knows the answer will you kindly respond? Thanks!!

  15. An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a coworker who had been conducting a little homework on this. And he in fact bought me dinner due to the fact that I found it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending time to discuss this topic here on your website.

  16. Bigg Boss 13 says:

    Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon every day. It’s always useful to read through articles from other authors and practice something from other sites.

  17. I have just forwarded this onto a coworker who had been conducting a little homework on this. And he in fact bought me dinner due to the fact that I found it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this

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  21. This is one of the useful tool in in the internet to find out old and archived pages. It helped me to get some information about business services. It is such a good tool

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  24. I am having difficulties with your RSS. I don’t understand the reason why I cannot join it. Is there anybody else having the same RSS issues?

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  26. Pingback: Internet Archive adds web page snapshots and other new features | CVR News Direct

  27. I learn something totally new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon every day. It’s always useful to read through articles from other authors and practice something from other sites

  28. Anonymous says:

    It should probably be mentioned that the Save Page Now feature now has a throttle of 15 saves per minute per IP address. If you go over that limit, the IP address will be blocked from saving pages for a full day. I’ve encountered that limit a few times and it’s quite frustrating when you’re saving a batch number of pages.

    I’ve also occasionally run into issues where, after saving a page, if you try to visit the archived webpage it will still say that the page hasn’t yet been archived. This tripped me up a lot, since previously it would load the archived contents right away.

  29. موزیک says:

    Thanks for the article. I learn something totally new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon every day

  30. Ealina Jackson says:

    thanks for this great article.

    https://where-am-i.live

  31. If you go over that limit, the IP address will be blocked from saving pages for a full day. I’ve encountered that limit a few times and it’s quite frustrating when you’re saving a batch number of pages

  32. آهنگ says:

    In my opinion the biggest mistake is 503

  33. The biggest issue I see with The Wayback Machine is is 503 errors or such where it does have the snapshot of a page but can’t load the assets and/or cross-dependencies so the page doesn’t show. That effectively renders some of these saved snapshots useless.

  34. I am a Rhetoric and Communications major. I’ll be graduating in May 2015, making this my senior year. I am the President and Captain of the St. Lawrence University Men’s Rugby Club, Managing Co-Editor of the Hill News, Editor-in-Chief of The Underground: Journal of Undergraduate Research, and host of a country music radio show on KSLU. I was born and raised in Massena, NY, which is a town about 40 minutes North of St. Lawrence University. I love sports, I love movies, and I love music. I can’t function without coffee and if you offer me peanut m&m’s, you could probably get me to do anything.

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