Web archive

The Internet is a vast repository of information that constantly changes. Web pages appear and disappear, change and get updated, but sometimes the information on them can be extremely important for preservation and study. To ensure access to their history, so-called web archive services were created. In this article, we will explore what web archives are, what their essence is, and how they work.

What Is a Web Archive?

A web archive is a tool that allows the preservation of web pages and the pages of entire websites at different points in time. These archives store all the information about how pages looked in the past, including text, images, videos, and other elements. To achieve this, they create snapshots (so-called copies) of websites, which allows researchers to investigate their development, changes over time, and search for all the necessary information.

History of Web Archives

The first attempts to create web archives were made in the 1990s. One of the first such services was «The Wayback Machine», created by the Internet Archive in 1996. It continuously archives billions of pages from the internet and provides global access to this information. Over time, other organizations also created their own web archives, such as Google Cache, Archive.is, and others.

Applications of Web Archives

Web archives are used in various situations. The most characteristic among them are:

  • Researching the history of the internet: Web archives allow researchers to study how websites have changed over time. This is useful for studying the history of the internet, the evolution of web page design, and content.
  • Retrieving lost information: Sometimes websites are closed, or the information on them is lost. Web archives allow access to this information, which can be useful for research or personal use.
  • Verification of authenticity: Web archives can serve as evidence that certain information was available at a specific point in time. This is important for legal cases, journalistic investigations, and other fields.
  • Studying changes in political, social, and cultural contexts: Web archives can reflect changes in the coverage of events, policies, and global developments over time and by country.

Popular Web Archives and Their Features

Currently, there are many web archives worldwide. They can vary in size and focus on different aspects of preserving web pages. Among the most well-known web archives are:

  • Internet Archive (The Wayback Machine). This service stores billions of web pages from different time periods and allows users to browse page archives from past years.
  • Google Cache. Google stores snapshots of web pages in its cache, enabling users to view pages even if they have been deleted or changed.
  • Archive.is. This service saves precise copies of web pages in the form of images and text versions, preserving pages in their current state.

In conclusion, web archives are essential tools for preserving the history of the internet and providing access to information from previous years. They assist researchers, journalists, and ordinary users in tracking changes and studying the development of websites. Therefore, for preserving information and ensuring access to it in the future, web archives remain indispensable tools in the digital world.