Since 1996 the Internet Archive has been leading the field of web archiving, developing the technical means to harvest, store, preserve, and access archived web content on a huge scale. The size of Internet Archive’s holding are hard to imagine, with hundreds of billions of web pages captured and dozens of petabytes of data stored.
The Internet Archive’s web content is accessible via the Wayback Machine. Paste any URL into the search box to see past copies captured over time. To provide authentic access to archived web content, the Wayback Machine renders the original functionality in the user’s web browser with hyperlinks automatically redirected to archived sources rather than the live web.
For example, browse the history of the U of I Library’s website: https://web.archive.org/web/*/www.lib.uidaho.edu
Each captured site will have a timeline of years and calendar allowing you to browse its history in the archive.
Citing an archived version of a web page from the Wayback Machine is a good option, since Internet Archive is so huge and well known.
You can copy the archive link directly from the address bar when viewing the page.
The archive link will follow the pattern “
https://web.archive.org/web/ + date + original url”, looking something like:
Save Page Now
To built its collection, the Internet Archive continuously crawls huge sections of the web capturing content in the WARC format. However, it also invites anyone to capture individual pages for free via its Save Page Now feature. This is a form of curation, since if real people are interested in saving the content, it probably has more value than randomly crawled links. Submissions are anonymous.
Optionally, you can create an Internet Archive account. When logged in, “Save Page Now” you will give you more advanced options, including save outlinks and screenshot. If you select the option “Save also in my web archive”, the capture will appear in your account’s “web archive” list, giving you a basic way to keep track of saved items.
On a larger scale, many institutions subscribe to Archive-It service to create, manage, and store their own web archives. Internet Archive also supports a variety of initiatives to preserve open access scholarship.