Google Won’t Back Up Your Internet Anymore: Cached Web Pages Are Dead

Google Won’t Back Up Your Internet Anymore: Cached Web Pages Are Dead

Google will no longer back up the entire Internet. “Cached” links in Google Search have long been an alternative way to load a broken or changed website, but the company is now discontinuing them. Danny Sullivan, a “search coordinator” at Google, confirmed the feature’s removal in a message Share XSaying that this feature “was intended to help people access pages, where you often couldn’t rely on the page loading. These days, things have improved dramatically. So, it was decided to discontinue it.”

The feature has been coming and going for some people since December, and currently, we don’t see any cache links in Google Search. For now, you can still create your own cache links even without the button, just by going to “https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:” plus the website URL, or by By typing “cache:” plus the URL into a Google search. At the moment, it appears that the cached version of Ars Technica still works. All Google support pages related to cached sites have been removed.

Cached links are used to live within the dropdown menu next to each search result on a Google page. As Google’s web crawler scans the Internet for new and updated web pages, it will also save a copy of everything it sees. This quickly led to Google backing up the entire Internet, using what was likely countless petabytes of data. Google is going through an era of cost savings right now, so assuming Google can start deleting cache data, it will likely be able to free up a lot of resources.

Cached links were great if a website was down or changed quickly, but they also provided some insight over the years into how a “Google Bot” web crawler viewed the web. Pages don’t necessarily display the way you expect. In the past, pages contained only text, but slowly, Google Bot learned about media and other rich data like JavaScript (there are now a lot of specialized Google Bots). A lot of Google Bot details are cloaked in secrecy to hide from SEO spammers, but you can learn a lot by checking out what the cached pages look like. In 2020, Google switched to mobile by default, so for example, if you’ve visited a cached Ars link before, you’ll get the mobile site. If you run a website and want to learn more about what your site looks like to a Google Bot, you can still do that, though just your site, through Search Console.

The death of cached sites will mean that the Internet Archive bears a greater burden of archiving and tracking changes to World Wide Web pages.

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