Web archiving is quite a common term in the business world. It is the process of gathering websites and their information from the World Wide Web and storing them in an archive for future use. Just like we traditionally archive paper or parchment documents, web archiving is preserving information available on the internet. The archived websites are made accessible for use by the government, businesses, organizations, researchers, and the public.
The Web is literally a web or massive amounts of websites and information. Usually, the web archivists make use of automated processes to archive the websites. Websites are plucked from their respective locations on the live Web with the help of specifically designed software known as ‘crawlers’.
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These crawlers travel across the websites along with copying and saving information as they pass. The websites and information which is archived are then made available online among the web archive collections. In spite of being preserved in the form of snapshots, the information can be viewed, read and navigated exactly as they were on the live Web.
Various organizations employ simple tools and techniques to archive their own website content. Many organizations and groups such as National Libraries are concerned with thoroughly archiving culturally important Web content. Certain commercial web archiving software is available for the use of organizations that have to preserve their own business for heritage, regulatory or legal purposes.
Internet Archive is the largest web archiving organization used by millions to maintain the archive of the entire World Wide Web.
Types of Web Archiving
Typically, there are 3 main techniques of archiving web content:
Client-side web archiving
This is the most popular archiving method mainly because it helps us to create an archive of any page freely available on the internet. Generally, when one wants to archive their own website or the websites of other organizations, the client-side web archiving technique is used.
Transaction-based web archiving
This method requires permissions and agreements from the server owners of the web content. Conducted on the server-side, this method captures all the transactions between the user and the server. This type of information is beneficial where compliances and legal accountability holds great value.
Server-side web archiving
Just like the transaction-based, server-side web archiving also requires the server owner’s consent. Here the crawlers capture all the information directly from the server.
Archives vs back-ups
A significant point to keep in mind is that all these 3 approaches are very different from a traditional website back-up. A website back-up is a simple storage technique which helps in storing a site’s information from the saved files in case a problem occurs.
The process of web archiving is very different from website backups.When a website is archived, the site is collected, preserved and made navigable as the original live site. If a website uses active scripts, the back-up copy would contain only its programming code which is not even time-stamped.
Importance of Web archiving
- A document of public communication
For many organizations, websites are a powerful means of communicating with the public and other organizations. Websites analyze the public character of organizations and document their interactions with customers and audiences. Archiving a website is important because it is an organization’s identity and hence, it is crucial to record it.
- Captured as evidence
Providing up-to-date information is one of the key features of the web. Due to this, websites are constantly evolving. On one hand, this is a great strength of the internet while on the other hand, this means that with each update some information is lost. A website must be archived so that it is captured as evidence for business or historical purposes.
This is especially beneficial for research organizations and for referencing and quotations. These activities rely on records and their linked pages and documents to use the knowledge again and again in the long run.
- Manage out of date information
If an organization doesn’t want to keep a particular content on its website any longer but at the same time doesn’t want to lose it, an archive would solve its problem. Research shows that these are great user demands for accessing older content which an organization may consider as out of date.
This will basically help the organization to keep up with updates along with managing its information.
Over to you..
Web archiving can be an economic and efficient process based on the approach. The archived website will not just be a digital copy of the original website but will also provide a time and date specifications.