What if you could go back in time and view websites that no longer exist, including your old blogs or web projects?
As it turns out, you can. And it’s extremely easy.
In this article, I’ll give you a quick rundown of how it works, show how I used it to find my old dead website from 2012, and then turn you loose to explore yourself!
What is the Wayback Machine?
I recently learned about a free tool called the Wayback Machine — a searchable digital archive that contains point-in-time snapshots of much of the internet since October 24, 2001.
The gist is that you can use this tool to view websites that no longer exist or to view previous versions (as of a certain date) of existing websites.
Here are some reasons you may want to do that:
- Find your old blogs and websites to repurpose content
- Track competitor websites at various stages of growth to see changes
- Find an old news article that is no longer on the internet
This tool was created by a San Francisco nonprofit called the Internet Archive which has supported this work since 2001. So if the content you’re searching for was created after that date, there’s a decent chance you can find it.
Repurpose and reuse your old blog pages and posts
If you’re anything like me, you may have a history of blogs or websites that you started but never quite got off the ground.
Maybe the domain name or hosting expired and you forgot to renew it, or you just lost steam and moved on to more exciting projects.
But that doesn’t mean the work you put into those sites is gone forever.
You can now go back, find the old content you’ve written, and potentially publish it again on a new site.
How I used Wayback Machine to find my old side project from 2012
Back in 2012, during my senior year of college, a friend and I started what would become my first entrepreneurial venture: the Man Scanner app.
Without getting too far off topic, the app was basically a joke app that pretended to analyze any picture of a man you took, and then overlayed a random insulting caption.
It sold like 300 copies at $0.99 after being featured on a local tv news station and then we never touched it again.
For years the content from this dead site wasn’t of any use to me, until right now, when I’ve repurposed it to use as an educational example in this blog post.
Can you get your site removed from Wayback Machine?
If you’re reading this and freaked out that content that you thought was permanently deleted is still viewable to the world, you can contact the Internet Archives team here and request they delete it.
Now that you know how the Wayback Machine works, I encourage you to go poke around and see what was on the web from up to 20-something years ago, especially if you have old blogs/sites you can resurface.
At the very least, looking at your old content is an interesting exercise to see your old projects and how your writing or thinking has evolved since that time.
I hope you’ll find something fun in the Internet Archives!