Archiving a website might still be an uncommon thing to do, but it can bring many benefits. Archiving saves all of the data and information that your website contains, which can be used to your advantage at a later date.
Now the next question that arises is, is backup and archive the same thing? To put it simply, no. Backups are focused on preserving your website’s data while archiving is focused on safeguarding the context.
While backups are usually available from your web host, archiving is something you need to do manually.
In this article, I’ll explain why you should archive your website, give three valuable tools to help you, and elaborate on the different ways to do so.
Let’s get started.
Why Archive Your Website?
There are plenty of reasons to archive your website. One of them could be to look at previous designs and iterations of your website, even from many years ago, to help influence your new design choices.
Your website archives can also become valuable evidence in the unfortunate event that you’re involved in litigation surrounding your website. If you can present a complete and precise website archive, you can protect your business from legal disputes before the courts get involved.
In fact, if you’re in the financial or legal industries, you are legally required to archive your website.
Archive Tools and Sites
There are a plethora of tools and sites available to help you archive your website. I’ll list down three of the more popular ones and give a mini-review about them.
- Wayback Machine
Wayback Machine is a free tool that’s specifically designed to store web pages from the internet. It has a few methods to create and upload the archives. Its API directly explains what the website can do.
Here, all archiving processes need to be done manually. Luckily, saving a URL to Wayback Machine is relatively easy. All you need to do is:
- Go to the website.
- Enter the URL you want to save in the Save Page Now box.
- Hit the Save Page button.
That’s it. Your webpage is now archived and permanently stored on Wayback Machine.
Pagefreezer is a premium archiving service that allows businesses to store a complete record of all website content. It provides automated solutions that take snapshots of a website at regular intervals.
Pagefreezer utilizes a technology similar to search engines where they use web crawlers to go through a website regularly and catch any changes and deletions made.
Not only that, but Pagefreezer also archives social media content, text messages, and enterprise-level collaboration platforms.
To start archiving, head to its user-friendly dashboard and click on the Create Archive button and simply paste the URL in the box.
Archive.today is a tool that’s specifically designed to store web pages from the internet. However, it takes a different approach when it comes to archiving pages.
Archive.today works by saving your URLs and asking permission to place them in the archives. It can store web pages and will always be online even if the original page disappears.
All you need to do to archive your site is simply paste the URL into the red box and hit the Save button.
How To Archive Your Website?
There are multiple ways to archive your website manually, so I’ll mention three significantly different methods.
I’ve ordered the methods based on their difficulty, with the first being the easiest and the third requiring some technical knowledge.
- Save One Page to Your Computer
Saving a single page to your computer is the most straightforward method. You can do this on almost any web browser. Here are the steps:
- Open your web browser and load the website you want to archive. Once the page is loaded, head to your browser’s File menu and click on the Save page as option.
- Once you click on the Save page as option, the browser will redirect you to a dialog box. Type in a name for the page, or use the default name.
- Make sure that you save the entire page instead of just the HTML. This is so you can preserve the website with most of its functionality.
- Use an Online Archive Tool
Here, you utilize one of the three archive tools I mentioned before. The archiving process will depend on the tool you’re using. But in general, you’ll only need to paste the URL you want to archive on a dialog box, and the tool will do the rest.
To quickly access the archive tool, some tools have the option to become bookmarklets and browser extensions. So with just one click, you can promptly archive a web page with ease.
- Use a Web Archiving Integration Layer (WAIL)
WAIL is open-source and a free cross-platform desktop application that allows you to get a functional Graphical User Interface (GUI) to use with its installer. Here are the steps to archive using this tool:
- Head to the WAIL website and download the installer according to your operating system.
- If you’re using Windows, simply unzip the file and move the folder to your root C:\ drive.
- If you’re using macOS, mount the .DMG image and on the resultant dialog screen and move the app icon to your Applications folder.
- Launch either WAIL.exe or WAIL.app, depending on your operating system.
On the first dialog box, enter the URL of the site you want to archive and hit the Archive Now! Button. WAIL will then begin to crawl the website.
When the process is complete, a Success pop-up message will appear, and you will be able to check the archive by clicking on the View Archive button on the Basic tab.
Now you know how to archive a website. Remember, it’s a good practice to archive your website regularly.
Archiving can be beneficial whenever you need to look back at previous website designs for future projects. Archived pages can also serve as valuable evidence should your website ever be involved in litigation.
Using the free tools mentioned above should be enough for a small business owner. On the other hand, if you’re an enterprise-level business owner, going for the Pagefreezer tool can bring plenty more benefits to you.