The Use and Purpose of the Internet's Wayback Machine

See what a website used to look like, way back when

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Take a walk down the virtual memory lane provided by Internet Archive's Wayback Machine. This website is dedicated solely to storing web pages so that you can look through them again later.

The Wayback Machine was created to provide a place to preserve digital artifacts for researchers, historians, etc., but can just as easily be used for entertainment to see what a page used to look like, like Google way back in 2001.

Another reason might be to access a page from a website that no longer exists and was shut down.

Wayback Machine has over 300 billion web pages from as far back as 1996, so there's a good chance that the website you want to see can be found on Wayback Machine. As long as the website allows for crawlers, you can even manually archive any page you want so that you can always have access to it in the future.

Wayback Machine is a great way to find really, really old pages, but if you're looking for more recent versions of a website that you can't access, try using Google's cached page option.

Tip: Internet Archive can also be useful for finding abandonware or other old software programs. If you use Wayback Machine to access a website that has been shut down, you might still be able to download software programs that are no longer available on their live page.

How to Use Wayback Machine

  1. Visit Wayback Machine.
  1. Paste or type a URL into the text box on the homepage.
  2. Use the timeline at the top of the calendar to pick a year.
  3. Select any of the blue circles from the calendar for that year. Only the days highlighted blue contain an archive.
  4. The page you land on shows what it looked like the day it was archived. From there, you can use the timeline at the top of the page to switch to a different day or year.

    More Information on Wayback Machine

    The pages are shown on Wayback Machine only reflect the ones that were archived by the service, not the page's update frequency. In other words, while one page that you've visited might have been updated once every single day for a whole month, Wayback Machine might have only archived it a few times.

    To archive a specific page as it stands right now, whether for a legitimate citation or just a personal reference, visit the Wayback Machine homepage and paste the link into the "Save Page Now" text box.

    If you have more questions about Wayback Machine, you can most likely find the answers through the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine FAQ page.

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