The Best Tools to Archive Websites for Long-Term Storage

The Internet is an amazing source of knowledge, with websites dedicated to bringing you up-to-date information. However, as fast as information can spread on the Internet, it can also disappear just as quickly. Perhaps the web host owner deleted the page, it was lost in a transfer, or the website simply doesn’t exist anymore. If a website or an article contains information you can’t afford to lose, you may be interested in how to archive websites permanently so you can access it without problems.

Thankfully, if you want to preserve the contents of a specific website, you have a selection of options in front of you. Here’s what you can do if you want to make a permanent copy of a website for later use.

Probably one of the simpler solutions to archive websites permanently is to save the webpage as an offline copy on your hard drive. That way you don’t even need an Internet connection to see it! If you’re performing research, saving the websites to a folder on your computer will help collate all the information you need that can be accessed offline and shared with others easily.

So, how do you save a website? You can just right-click a web page and click “Save as…” but this will save it in an HTML format. While this does work, it might not be ideal for sharing or reading later.

A much more convenient way to archive websites permanently is by saving them as PDF files. If you use Chrome, you can find a “Save as PDF” option when printing a web page. Just go to print it as normal, then click to change the device and select the PDF option. Instead of printing a physical copy, Chrome will simply save the page as a PDF on your computer.

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If you’re using a different browser, there are several plugins and websites dedicated to converting web pages to PDF files, such as the WebToPDF addon for Firefox.

If you just want to save the text on a webpage, it gets even easier! Simply copy-paste the text into a word processor of your choice and save it for safekeeping. Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best.

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But what if you don’t want to save a copy to your computer? What if you’d prefer to have an online copy of the website as it is right now?

Archive.is is a free service that allows you to archive websites permanently. You give Archive.is a website, and it’ll take a snapshot of the page as it looks at that moment. Then it’ll save a copy to its databases where it’ll be preserved in its current state. You can use the share tools to get a permanent link, so you can bookmark the page for later. This makes it an ideal choice if you want to preserve a website yet still have access to an online version for sharing or sourcing.

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But what if disaster strikes and you can no longer bring the webpage up? Perhaps the website died before you could save its contents, or the page you want to access was deleted. If this happens to you, don’t fret just yet – you may still be able to find that page again!

There’s a very useful tool hosted by the Internet Archive called the Wayback Machine. This tool allows you to see how web pages looked in the past by using saved copies over the course of the page’s life. They achieve this by sending out crawlers which store webpage snapshots as they go; basically, an automated version of archive.is that’s always scanning and saving webpages as it finds them.

This does mean that if you want to pull up a webpage that has long since gone, there’s a chance the Wayback Machine took a snapshot of it before it vanished. All you need to do is enter the webpage you’re interested in bringing back to life, and Wayback Machine will try its best to find a copy of the page. If it does pull up your web page, you can then save it for later use to make sure it doesn’t go missing again!

Even if you’re not too interested in saving a webpage, you can always use it to explore how popular websites looked in its infancy, such as what Amazon looked like back on May 12th, 2000 or the prototype for Google search.

Given the turbulent nature of the Internet, losing information can be highly annoying. With these tools you can to make sure a page stays around forever, even if it has already changed!

Have you ever gone to a website to get something crucial, only to find that it has moved on? How do you make sure that information on the Internet sticks around? Share your stories with us below.

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