With the extension installed, if you encounter a 404 (or really any from the range of “unavailable” errors) for content that exists in the archive, you’ll see this very handy pop-up:
As that button describes, clicking it will take you to the archived page, so you’ll never have to wonder about what you were missing. But, that’s not all! Do you feel like a page looks a little bit different today? Are you feeling nostalgic for how pages looked when they were first published? Just open the extension in your browser’s toolbar for even more fun:
Thanks to this new extension, and the Wayback Machine’s hundreds of billions of archived pages, the experience of missing out on lost content could finally be a thing of the past! Also, if you find this extension useful, don’t forget that the Internet Archive needs donations to be able to provide all of that for free.
If you have your own site, you have probably deleted a page or post by now. Whether on purpose or by accident, you can control what’s on your site, but you can’t control the links to it that already exist elsewhere. When those links direct to your deleted content, the visitor sees a boring 404 Not Found error. But, what if I told you that you could use the Wayback Machine to offer those disappointed visitors a glimpse of the content they missed?
A few years back, the folks behind the Internet Archive debuted their smart 404 handler for free use, and it still works great! Simply add the code from the earlier link to your custom 404 page, and it will work like magic. If you have a WordPress site, your theme more than likely has a 404.php file. If you have not already, now is a great time to start a child theme, so your changes aren’t lost if the theme is updated. Now, simply find where the content of your 404 page ends in the 404.php file (the content you visibly see on the page, not the entirety of the code), and add the code right below it. Here’s how the relevant section looks in the Sorbet theme’s 404.php file:
You won’t see anything if the former page or post wasn’t archived by the Wayback Machine. If you did it right though, and you land on one that has been archived, you’ll find a welcoming message with a link to the most recently archived version. It will look something like this:
Thanks to the smart 404 handler and the Wayback Machine’s over 462 billion archived pages, the experience of missing out on lost content could be a thing of the past.
This bring us to the end of our series on the Internet Archive, for now. If you enjoyed your brief tour, don’t forget that they need donations to be able to provide all this for free. Until next time, enjoy everything the Internet Archive has to offer!
Continuing in our series on the Internet Archive, we have the one thing it might be known best for, the Wayback Machine! There are over 462 billion web pages saved in the Wayback Machine, which leads to some powerful options.
The power of the Wayback Machine is in what it stores: everything. The entire source of the page, along with any available media, is stored. First of all, you might be thinking, “I’d better block that immediately!” Don’t. No one is going to purposefully visit your site through the Wayback Machine instead of just normally visiting your site, that’s silly. Allow your site to be archived for history, there’s no reason not to.
So, what does this “everything” get you? Quite a bit actually. Ever wonder what would happen to your site if you found out your backups were bad? The Wayback Machine is here for you to copy and paste whatever text you need to, and to re-upload any media it was able to archive. Does something seem odd in your site lately, something you can’t quite identify? Instead of fully restoring an old backup, compare your site to last month’s archive on the Wayback Machine. If you can identify what’s different, you can even view the source like you would on any normal web page to dig into the deep details.
As a true story of its power, we use the Wayback Machine almost every day in Jetpack support. When you connect Jetpack with your blog, it ties everything to your blog’s URL, and assigns that URL a unique blog ID. If you’re running the Stats module, you can find that ID in the source output towards the bottom. Just look in the source for “blog:’number'” and that number is the blog ID. Sometimes people move their blog to a new domain, and Jetpack will get confused and think it’s a new site (we’re working on ways to improve that). If we can find the old site in the Wayback Machine, we can find the old blog ID in the source, and then we can fix everything.
The Wayback Machine has a lot to offer, and you only need to start digging to get a good grasp of just how much there is. Storing so much data isn’t cheap though, and the Internet Archive needs your donations to keep it running. Dive into history with the Wayback Machine and see what you can uncover! Next time? Smart 404 handler!
Take some time to explore what’s available there. You’re sure to bring back some great memories, and don’t forget, they take donations to keep everything freely available. Next time? The Wayback Machine!
Continuing our series on the Internet Archive, I figured we’d start with the obvious bits. At the Internet Archive, you have access to a wide variety of public domain or owner-donated texts, audio, videos, and photos. That’s right, it’s just a like a library online, because that’s exactly what it is!
There are almost 3 million audio files available to stream or download, including voice recordings, radio shows, music, whole albums, audio books, and almost 2 hundred-thousand full live concerts. You’ll never need to buy an album or pay for a streaming music service again, unless you wanted to hear recently released music of course.
There are just over 2 million videos available to stream or download, including movies and television. If you’re feeling nostalgic, stop by the Perlinger Archives for over 6 thousand public service announcements and educational films, or perhaps almost 1 million TV news clips.
The Internet Archive has been one of my favorite sites for quite a few years, and many of its hidden powers are not that obvious at first glance, so I figured I might as well write up a few posts. With that said, this is part 1 of a 6 part series.
What is the Internet Archive? According to their about page:
The Internet Archive is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was founded to build an Internet library. Its purposes include offering permanent access for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format. … Now the Internet Archive includes texts, audio, moving images, and software, as well as archived web pages in our collections.
That sure is a lot to take in, and from a non-profit organization too! In short, the Internet Archive is dedicating to digitally preserving both our physical and digital history, and making it all freely available to the world, in many ways more than any other library or museum out there. Besides its core offerings, the Internet Archive has a large number of fascinating connected projects, including Open Library and most recently Political TV Ad Archive which collects this year’s political ads and reports some fascinating data.
There sure is a lot going on at the Internet Archive, and that’s why they’re always open to donations. There are quite a few things I couldn’t do without the Internet Archive, and over the next few days (weeks?) I hope to share some of the far less obvious ones with you. For now, browse around it and see what you can discover!