The internet is very impermanent, web pages are edited without warning or even deleted overnight. In a nutshell, there are a plenty of ways to lose access to a site or web page. You may want to access a certain web page, only to find the servers are down, the content has been altered or entirely removed from the site. In such a scenario, the only option you have is to view the cached version.
Google, for instance, saves backup copies of pages it scans when regularly crawling the web searching for new pages to index. The same is done by web browsers in order to load pages faster. These snapshots are preserved in the cache and are accessible if a site goes down or certain content is removed. Not all websites are indexed by Google or saved in a cache, but for those that are, here’s how to access them.
Viewing a cached Google page starts the same as any other search. Once you’ve entered your query and found a search result, click the arrow next to the URL and choose the Cached option to view Google’s most recent saved version of the page. When the site loads, Google will notify you it is an older version and list when the snapshot was taken. You’ll also have the option to view a text-only version of the page, as well as its source code. However, be aware that you won’t be able to navigate to any other pages and remain in the cached version; you’ll be taken to the live site if you try.
2. Chrome address bar
If you’re using the Chrome web browser, type ‘cache:’ in the address bar and add the URL without leaving a space, for example cache:https://victor-mochere.com. The browser will pull up the cached version of the website in question, just as if you had gone through Google.
3. Wayback Machine
A number of entities are devoted to preserving internet history; most prominent is the nonprofit Internet Archive, which hosts websites, texts, video, audio, software, and images that can be hard to find anywhere else. You can view even older versions of a website with the Wayback Machine, which works for live and offline websites. Enter the URL you want to explore, and the archival search engine will show a calendar that indicates when the Wayback Machine crawled that page. Click a date on the calendar to see what the site looked like on that day. The Wayback Machine is a great way to view the history of the internet.
4. Archive Today
The archiving website Archive Today allows users to save current web pages and also search for existing entries that have previously been saved. Entering a URL for saving allows you to view a web page as it currently exists, save it to the site, and download the page to your computer. If you want to view archived versions of a website, enter the URL in the appropriate search bar and Archive Today will populate results for the homepage and associated individual pages. If there are multiple versions of the same page, they will be stacked together for easy viewing.
5. Browser extensions
Browser extensions can also access cached sites. Add Web Cache Viewer to Chrome and right-click on any page to view the Google or Wayback Machine version of the webpage. The View Page Archive & Cache extension for Chrome and Firefox goes even further, letting you view cached webpage versions from more than a dozen search engines, including Bing, Baidu, and Yandex.