Whatever gets on the Internet, stays on the Internet in some waym no matter how hard you try to remove it. The vast majority of web pages on the internet are saved and archived on dedicated servers. This there will always be a ‘snapshot’ of its previous version available for anyone to see.
There are several reasons why you would want to view the past version of a website. Maybe you are on a Wikipedia page, and you want to see a version of it written a couple of years ago. Other times, perhaps you just want to do this for fun, to see what famous websites looked like in the early 2000s, for example.
So how do you view the past versions of a website? There are various “Internet Archives” available on the internet, but in this guide we will be using one called Internet Archive: Wayback Machine.
Open your browser and go to archive.org/web. The page below will open. At the top, you’ll see a search box where you can type in the address of the site you’d like to find.
For the purposes of this tutorial, let’s try to look for a past version of the popular site “Yahoo.” To do this, simply type in “yahoo.com” without the quotes and click on the “Browse History” button.
You will see that just under 78,000 past versions of Yahoo’s homepage has been saved since its first archive back in 1996. For fun, let’s see what the site’s homepage looked like back in 2005. To do this, click on “2005.”
In 2005, you can see that the webpage has been archived multiple times. Let’s pick a random date and go with February 17. Click on that date.
Wayback Machine will return Yahoo’s homepage, as it was back in February 17, 2005. Interesting, isn’t it?
You can do this with the majority of web pages. All you have to do is copy the link of the web page and paste it into the search box of Wayback Machine. However, keep in mind that although hundreds of billions of web pages are being tracked by these internet archives, you might come across a web page that doesn’t have any past version of it saved.
~ Johnatan Fallen