Your Old Website Isn’t Gone – Here’s How to Find It

Your Old Website Isn’t Gone – Here’s How to Find It
Post by • Cynthia Bartz • originally published on cbgraphics.net

If you’ve been in business for a while, then you probably have been through a couple of major website changes. Sometimes, in the process of changing our websites, we forget the critically important step of documenting, archiving, and keeping old content so we can refer back to it later.

Then that moment hits and you need a paragraph from a page that doesn’t exist anymore. It’s not gone. You can still get it back. It just takes a little poking around on the internet.

In the last article, I showed you how to retrieve your old website content on WordPress, using the “Revisions” feature built into WordPress. This week I’m going to show you how to retrieve old content from any website. If you are a WordPress user, and have always been a WordPress user, I recommend reading the previous article: Don’t Panic! How to Recover Old Website Content in WordPress

The Wayback Machine

For more than 20 years, The Internet Archive has been archiving website pages for the express purpose of making it possible to retrieve old content. They have a tool called The Wayback Machine that allows you to look at old websites, perfectly preserved. They have archived over 279 billion web pages and counting.

This amazing tool has saved my clients and me dozens of times. I’ve yet to run into a client website we couldn’t find on the archive. Oh. And it’s free. The Internet Archive is a non-profit and offers this service to the public for free.

What You Need

This tutorial will walk you through recovering old website content from any website. The best part of this method of retrieving content is that it is completely platforming agnostic. It doesn’t matter if you started on Wix, switched to Squarespace, then started over again on WordPress; you will still be able to see your old website content.

In order to recover content using this method, you must:

  • Know the domain name

That’s it. You do need to know where the website used to live.

How to Retrieve Old Website Content for Any Website

Step 1: Go to Wayback Machine

Go to the Wayback Machine website. It should look something like the screenshot below.

Your Old Website Isn’t Gone – Here’s How to Find It -Step 2: Enter Your Old Website Domain

Visit: The Wayback Machine

Enter the domain address (www.yourwebsite.com) on your old website into the search bar at the top. If you are looking for a specific page and know the address, you can also enter that. For example, if you have an old landing page that has been deleted, you can enter the following:

www.yourwebsite.com/landing-page.

After entering your domain name, it will take you to a calendar view, like what you see below. The calendar is marked with every date that the website was captured. At the top, you will find a timeline going back twenty years.

Your Old Website Isn’t Gone – Here’s How to Find It -Step 3: Find Your Old Content

Each bar in the year shows that the website was archived during that time. The months below show the actual dates that the website was archived. You can use these dates to pinpoint the old website content you want.

Click on the date.

I recommend starting with the most recent capture and rollback unless you know the content is old. Click on a specific date – one of the blue circles on the year-long calendar.

This will open an old version of your website with a navigation toolbar at the top. You can use this toolbar to move back and forth in time to find the content you are looking for.

Your Old Website Isn’t Gone – Here’s How to Find It -

IMPORTANT NOTE: Your images might not show up. The one drawback to the Wayback Machine is that they rarely archive the images with the old website page. So, if you see empty boxes with broken images, that’s normal.

Step 4: Save Your Old Content

Once you’ve found the content you were looking for, copy and save it somewhere safe for future use. You may want to consider thumbing through your other pages to ensure that there isn’t any other content that you want to save.

How to Save Pages for the Future

Are you about to make a big change to your website, such as moving platforms or starting over? You can use the Wayback Machine to keep an archive of your old website right before you make a momentous change. On the main page for The Wayback Machine, there is a “Save Page Now” tool that allows you to archive a page.

Your Old Website Isn’t Gone – Here’s How to Find It -Summary

The Wayback Machine is a digital archive of the World Wide Web, created by the Internet Archive, that allows you to access old versions of websites. To retrieve your website using the Wayback Machine, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Wayback Machine website (archive.org/web/).
  2. Enter the URL of your website in the search bar.
  3. Select the year, month, and day you want to see the website from. If you don’t know the exact date, you can use the calendar view to browse through available snapshots of the website.
  4. Click on the “Take me back” button to view the archived version of the website.
  5. You can also use the “Play” button to view a slideshow of the website’s snapshots over time.

Please note that not all websites have been archived, and some may have only been archived partially. Additionally, the archives may not always be complete or accurate, as they depend on the snapshots taken by the Wayback Machine at the time.

You can use the Wayback Machine to find your old website content for any website on any platform. This tool allows you to look at an archived version of your website.