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What Is the Wayback Machine and how it works?


Millions of Internet Data is Archived! And the Answer is Wayback Machine. Now a series of questions are arising in my mind and I guess yours too. Do you know what is a Wayback machine and it works? How the Data is archived? Have you ever wondered if you will be able to see the past version of a Website?  If you want to know the answer to these questions then you are lucky to land here, my friend. My this article is all about the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, and how it works.

Wayback Machine

Internet Archive is the digital copy of the information present on the world wide web. The Internet Archive Wayback Machine is a service that permits users to access the archived versions of the Web site. Snapshots of the web pages are available on this Wayback Machine. What’s the purpose of this Wayback machine? Trillions of Web pages are available on the Internet in this era of the Internet. The world is full of artifacts and a lot of information is available about these artifacts on the Internet. To preserve those artifacts for researchers, historians, and scholars, this library is made known as Internet Archive Wayback Machine.

The snapshots of the pages taken from the internet may be updated with different frequency. Some may be updated in a month and some may be in a year. So, Web page snapshots usually become available and searchable on the Internet more than 6 months after they are archived. Many research institutions and departments like forensic Science uses this achieved Information in The Wayback Machine.

Wayback machine

Some Important FAQ

1) When the machine is founded?

The original idea of the machine was proposed long back in 1996 by Brewster Kahle and Bruce Gilliat (founders of a company known as Alexa Internet, now an Amazon company). Five years after the idea was given, the machine actually started working. Thus, Since 2001 the machine has been working in making the digital library and will turn 20 years old next year. The Wayback Machine is named with the reference of Mr. Peabody’s WABAC (pronounced ass way-back) machine from the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon show.

2) Does Internet Archive contain Personal information too?

Yes, the Information that is available publicly can be stored in the Library by the web crawler.

3) Does the Internet Archive have access to all sites?

The Wayback machine does not record everything on the internet. A web page’s robots.txt file has the rules for spidering the content of a specific website. If a web page domain does not permit crawling, the Wayback Machine does not index the domain’s content. In place of content, the Wayback Machine records a “no crawl” message in its archive snapshot for a domain.

No, The sites that are available for all and nothing is password protected is collected in the digital Library. The sites that are protected by Robots and have been blocked for access is not preserved in the Internet Archive library.

4) Does IA preserve Emails and chats too?

No, No private Information is being captured in the publicly accessible digital library.

5)  Copyright Policy

wayback machine Copyright policy

6) Where Does the Wayback machine’s data is archived?

The Wayback Machine Archives the Data in Santa Clara, California, United States.

One more copy of Data is stored at Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria, Egypt in order to recover data in case of disasters.

How Wayback Machine Works?

Are you curious to read this? Isn’t it interesting to know about all the Data of a website(past data and present collection)? I am happy to share here, how you can access all the past data of a website. Though there may be a possibility that you may not get current data up-to-date. Following are the steps to know how a Wayback machine works:

Step 1: Go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine website.

Step 2: Access the Website you want to see by following two ways:

  1. Directly: If you know the URL of the website, then type it in the search box and enter.
  2. Indirectly: If you do not know the URL of the website, then search by name and then choose from the list popped out.

Step 3: Choose For Specific Year you want to see. The Wayback Machine will show you all the data like how many times the sites has been achieved Between the specific dates. The following screenshots may help you in understanding more.

Data for the current year( 2019) 

wayback machine timeline


Data for the year 2002


Step4: Click on a Date below from the whole calendar. Only the highlighted dates can be clicked as data is archived on those days only. As you click on a specific Date the Wayback machine will navigate you to that specific site. And you will be wondered how it looked at that time.

I have searched for Google’s website and I am actually wondered and feeling so great to know how the website seems to be in the year 2002. The snapshot of the site is given below.


And you are done!

Before you go…

Wayback Machine isn’t a dream but a reality that can fulfill the dream of lots of people. The data of past history is saving the originality and progress of a particular website and page. The above mentioned four steps need to be learned in order to know the artifacts and history of the world of the Internet.

I hope the article will be helpful to you. Comment back to share your views too.

About the author

priyanka mittal

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