Have you ever clicked a link and seen an error page, or revisited a bookmarked website and found it’s closed up shop? We’ve all been there. The good news is that you can view the website anyway, whether it’s buckled under an onslaught of traffic or was taken down three years ago.
Google, the Coral Content Distribution Network and Archive.org’s Wayback Machine all take snapshots of webpages, allowing you to view the cached version. If you want to speed up the process, you can also use a browser extension or a bookmarklet on your browser’s bookmarks toolbar.
Google Cache, which we’ve covered along with other Google search hacks, is a quick way to view a misbehaving website. Google’s cache links used to be front and center on its search page, but they’re now hidden behind an arrow that appears when you hover over a search result.
There’s a faster way to access cached pages that you may not be aware of. Just type cache: into the search box, followed by the address of the webpage you want to access.
Google doesn’t cache images, so you may need to use the Text-only version link.
Bing users aren’t left out. Bing has a Cached page link hidden behind an arrow, too.
The Coral content distribution network is ideal for accessing websites that are down due to a high amount of traffic — maybe they’ve been linked to on Slashdot or Reddit.
Using it is as simple as adding .nyud.net to the domain name of a website or webpage. So, if you want to access MakeUseOf’s homepage through it, you’d use “makeuseof.com.nyud.net“. If you wanted to access the MakeUseOf post I just linked to, you’d use “makeuseof.com.nyud.net/tag/10-websites-cool-computer-geeks-reside“.
If this sounds a bit complicated, don’t worry – you can also access the Coral CDN homepage and plug in a website or webpage address.
The Wayback Machine
We’ve covered Archive.org’s Wayback Machine extensively in the past. Not only is it a way to view a website that won’t load, it’s a way to travel back in time and view what websites used to look like. This tool is indispensable if you’re trying to access a website that’s been down for a while, or view a specific page that’s been removed.
Visit the Archive.org homepage, plug in a website address and click Take Me Back.
The Wayback Machine presents you with snapshots taken on various dates. You can view the most recent snapshot, or even view the oldest one.
Here’s what MakeUseOf looked like back in 2006, an almost-empty page with a “Hello world!” post. Ah, websites – they grow up so fast.
Better yet, have a browser extension do the work for you.
Resurrect Pages is a popular Firefox add-on that makes your error pages more useful with links to these services. We’ve covered it and similar extensions in the past.
Google Chrome already shows a link to the Google cache on its error page, assuming a Google cache result is available. Web Cache and similar extensions add small menus with links to these services.
You can find bookmarklets for the Wayback Machine on its main page, the Coral Cache on its plug-ins page and the Google Cache on unofficial websites. Drag and drop the bookmarklet link from the page onto your bookmarks toolbar.
If you don’t see the bookmark bar, you’ll have to enable it. On Chrome, click the wrench menu, point to Bookmarks and click Show Bookmarks Bar. Firefox users can right-click their toolbar and select Bookmarks Toolbar. Internet Explorer users should right-click their toolbar and click Favorites Bar.
What do you do when a website doesn’t load? Let us know in the comments.
Image Credit: Warning Sign Icon via Shutterstock