Google Cache: Find the Previous Version of a Website

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Have you ever tried to access a website, but couldn't because it was down? Of course - we've all run into this from time to time and it's a common experience for everyone who's ever been online. One way to get around this issue is to access the cached, or backup, version of the website. Google gives us an easy way to accomplish this.

What is a cache?  

One of the most useful Google search engine features is the ability to see the previous version of a web page.

As Google's sophisticated software - search engine "spiders" - travel around the Web discovering and indexing websites, they also take a detailed snapshot of each page they come in contact with, storing that page (also known as "caching") as a backup.

Now, why would Google need a backup of a web page? There are several reasons, but the most common scenario is if a website goes down (this could be due to too much traffic, server issues, power outages, or a huge variety of reasons). If a website's page is part of Google's cache, and the site is temporarily down, then search engine users can still access these pages by visiting Google's cached copies. This Google feature also comes in handy if a website is taken completely off the Internet - for whatever reason - as users are still able to access the content simply by utilizing Google's cached version of the website. 

What will I see if I try to access the cached version of a Web page? 

A cached version of a website is basically a temporary storage of information that makes access by users to those sites faster, since the images and other "large" assets are already documented.

 The cached copy of a webpage will show you what the page looked like the last time Google visited it; which usually is quite recent, within the last 24 hours or so. If you want to visit a website, try to access it, and you're having trouble, taking advantage of Google's cache is a great way to overcome this particular obstacle.

 

The Google “cache” command will help you find the cached copy – the way the Web page looked when Google’s spiders indexed it - of any Web page.

This especially comes in handy if you’re looking for a Web site that is no longer there (for whatever reason), or if the Web site you’re looking for is down due to an unusually high volume of traffic.

How to use Google to see the cached version of a Web page

Here’s an example of how you would use the cache command:

cache:www.lifewire.com

You’ve just asked Google to return the cached copy of the Lifewire page. When you do this, you'll see what the Web page looked like the last time that Google crawled, or examined the site. You'll also get the option of viewing the page as it looks like with everything (the Full version), or just the Text version. The Text version can come in handy if the page you are trying to access is under an excessively large amount of traffic for whatever reason, or if you are attempting to access the page via a device that doesn't have a lot of bandwidth, or if you are just interested in seeing a particular kind of content and don't need images, animations, videos, etc. 

You don't have to use this particular search command to access the cache search feature.

If you look carefully in your Google search results, you'll see a green arrow on the side of the URL; click on this, and you'll see the word "cached". This will instantly transport you to the cached version of that particular Web page. Almost every site you come across while using Google will have the option of accessing the cached version right there in the search result. Clicking on “cached” will bring you immediately to the last copy Google made of that particular page.

Google's cache: a useful feature

The ability to access the previous version of a website isn't necessarily something that most search engine users will take advantage of on a daily basis, but it certainly comes in handy on those rare occasions where a site is slow to load, has been taken offline, or information has changed and the user need to access the previous version.

Use the Google cache command to directly access sites you are interested in.