Back in the day, Google cached websites when there was a chance that they might not load or is users needed an archival version to see what a website looked like previously. However, those use cases have mostly fallen by the wayside, so the search engine has decided to retire the feature. However, there are other alternatives that Google might be looking to implement soon.
Back in December of 2023, self-proclaimed search geek Barry Schwartz posted a picture to X, noting that the cache link on Google had disappeared. They had tried “dozens of queries” and could not find the cached pages they were looking for. That posting sat idle for about a month until January 29th, when another X user asked if Barry had confirmed whether the cached links were completely gone. From here, Barry pinged @searchliasion, the Google Search Liaison, who explained that the feature had been removed.
The Google Search Liaison explained that this was one of Google’s oldest features and was “meant for helping people access pages when way back, you often couldn’t depend on a page loading.” Nowadays, though, that is not so much a problem, so the decision was made to retire the feature. With this in mind, some archival sites offer an alternative, which perhaps Google will look to incorporate into search soon. Namely, the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine might serve as a pseudo replacement.
The Wayback Machine is a useful and cool tool where you can plug in just about any site and get versions of it from years ago. If you want to see what HotHardware looked like way back (get it?) in 2000, check out the image above from the Wayback Machine. Besides the novelty, this has practical applications a well, such as seeing how information has changed on a website, like terms and conditions or privacy policies. You can also use this for data collection and information gathering on a website if you want details that might have been removed.
Ultimately, when they say something put on the internet stays on the internet, it is no joke. While Google is not necessarily contributing to this with cached pages anymore, there are other players like the Internet Archive who are, and it is pretty interesting to see. So, while we wave goodbye to one of Google’s oldest features, we know that all the info we could ever need is still out there on platforms like the Wayback Machine.
Tyler Fields is your internet guru, delving into the latest trends, developments, and issues shaping the online world. With a focus on internet culture, cybersecurity, and emerging technologies, Tyler keeps readers informed about the dynamic landscape of the internet and its impact on our digital lives.