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Sun, Feb 12, 2006 7:15 pm

Site Not Present in the Wayback Machine

Due to a power outage at the facility where I house my web server, I was unable to access it today. There was some PHP code I wanted to retrieve from one of my webpages. I had obtained the code from another site, but was unable to relocate the information with a Google search. I had posted the information relatively recently and didn't think I had it on a server where I keep a backup of the website files. I thought I would check the Wayback Machine to see if the information was archived there, but found that there was no archive of this website, which I've maintained for about two years now.

The Wayback Machine aka Internet Archive is an attempt to preserve a historical record of the Web, just as libraries perserve written materials for posterity.

In the words of its maintainers:

The Internet Archive is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was founded to build an .Internet library,. with the purpose of offering permanent access for researchers, historians, and scholars to historical collections that exist in digital format. Founded in 1996 and located in the Presidio of San Francisco, the Archive has been receiving data donations from Alexa Internet and others. In late 1999, the organization started to grow to include more well-rounded collections. Now the Internet Archive includes texts, audio, moving images, and software as well as archived web pages in our collections.

I've encountered instances where I or someone else had a bookmark to a site with needed information that was once there, but when I attempted to visit the bookmarked webpage again, the site no longer existed or the relevant information was no longer there. And I couldn't find it anywhere else on the web. But in several such instances I've been able to go to the Wayback Machine, type in the site's address and locate the information in an archive of the website within the Wayback Machine. The Wayback Machine will often have snapshots of the site at various points in time. So, if the site existed two years ago, but is no longer present, you may still be able to retrieve information it contained from the Wayback Machine.

Since this site wasn't there, I wanted to add it. The FAQ for the site states that you can go to Alexa Web Search -- For Webmasters to submit your site to an Alexa search, which will result in it being incorporated into the Internet Archive. The FAQ states "Sites are usually crawled within 24 hours and no more then 48. Right now there is a 6-12 month lag between the date a site is crawled and the date it appears in the Wayback Machine."

I submitted my site, but then realized I probably should have waited until power is restored to the facility where the webserver is housed, since I don't know what will occur if the Alexa webcrawler tries to access it, but finds it isn't accessible. Will it try again later or just discard the request? I suppose I should resubmit the request once the site is available again.

Some of you may recall another "Wayback Machine". There was a cartoon, "Peabody's Improbable History", which I used to watch as a boy. In it a boy, Sherman, and his erudite talking dog, Mr. Peabody would travel back in time each episode using Mr. Peabody's time machine, which was called the "Wayback Machine". They would then fix problems to make sure history would turn out the way we know it.


  1. Internet Archive
    Universal Access to Human Knowledge
  2. Peabody's Improbable History
    Don Markstein's Toonopedia
  3. Mr. Peabody
  4. Hollywood on Shakespeare and Bacon
    Sir Francis Bacon's New Advancement of Learning

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