Web archiving is a method of gathering a website and its information and storing it in an archive. It is a process that is very similar to the old-fashioned method of archiving parchment or paper documents. The basic concept of archiving is to select data, store it, preserve it and make it available to others.
The process makes use of archiving software so it is available to organizations and individuals who wish to archive their web content for regulatory, legal or business purposes. There are specific technical methods that are utilized for web content archiving, and the three main ones are transaction-based, server-side and client-side archiving. Server-side and transaction-based archiving needs active participation of the server owners. Client-side methods are able to be done on a wide scale and can also be done on a remote basis.
- Most of the information on the World Wide Web that was available during the early and mid 1990s has been lost forever. Very little of this information has been preserved. This time period was prior to the very first archiving, which commenced during 1996.
- Since that period, the web has become a hive of information and accordingly has become a significant part of everyone’s life. Archiving has allowed for it to be drawn into other areas such as referencing and research. In the past, these activities were dependent upon physical records. The web and particularly archiving of the websites has made it possible for historical information to become accessible to the masses.
- Most organizations use their websites as a mechanism of communication with other organizations and the public. Websites act as powerful mediums of information and attraction for potential customers. They reveal information about an organization’s public character, as well as any interaction taking place between the organization and the public. A website is often the only place where that particular information can be found, making it a vital part of the identity and history of that organization. This also applies to individuals who have their own websites.
- Websites are generally updated on a regular basis, and not only regarding the aesthetic structure, but also the information found there. This is what appeals to many who use the World Wide Web. By the same token, this information is often not around for a very long time and can be lost before it is captured for historical or business purposes.
- Website archiving provides individuals and organizations with the opportunity to provide others with the access to information that they may want to remove or replace on their ‘live’ site.
- Archiving allows the website owner to preserve advertising mechanisms and designs.
- Web archiving is preferable to disk back-ups. Copies of back-ups are not always reliable, particularly in cases where the website uses scripts. These back-up copies will only contain the code that was used during programming and will not be time-stamped. Changes can be made to back-up copies, which may affect the authenticity of the website content.
- You should archive your website to provide an exact screen shot of the website at a certain point in time. It should be available for review or to future generations in its original format at a specific date and at a specific time. This allows users to view the site information in the exact context of its original production.
Websites are required to be archived according to the Public Records Act. This provides the public access to websites and the information therein at any point in time.
In the event that you require information or documents for regulatory
Management and retention of information and statistics on your website is crucial for legal purposes, business use and historical purposes. One of the reasons why you should archive your website is the same as the reason for why you should retain paper documentation of your activities: for the information that it contains that may be useful in the future for research and as a historical overview of the time. compliance, you need to archive your website to allow easy access in the future. In cases where you require web information or documents for litigation purposes, retrieval from an archive is simpler than perusing a multitude of backups or disk images.