How the Google Cache can Save Your A$$
A couple weeks ago I was doing a little “maintenance” on one of my sites and accidentally deleted my entire database of about 30 articles.
After I finished berating myself for being so stupid, I realized that my hosting company would have a backup, so I sent anÂ email asking them to restore the database. Their reply stated that backups were “coming soon”…OUCH!
So right after I signed up with a better hosting company I had to figure out a plan B.
Have you ever done a search on a major search engine and noticed next to almost every result there is the Cached Page link? If you go to this search for Smart Money Daily on MSN you can see an example. If you click on the Cached Page link you’ll be take to a snapshot of my home page from a couple weeks ago [note: because of how I've done my stylesheet the cached page's display is a bit funky]. This is not a live page and it is not on my server. Which means that if my server is down, or my database has been deleted, this page will still be available [for a couple weeks only because when the search engines stop finding the real page on your site, they will drop the pages from the cache].
So, now I can retrieve my page’s content and stuff it back into my database. Copy, paste and repeat. All I need to do now is to find all of my pages. For that we can use the site:smartmoneydaily.com search and it will give a list of all the pages indexed by MSN [the same query works for Google and you may need to search both to get all of your pages]. Since my pages also have a date stamp on each story, I was able to back-date them into their original order. Yeah!
What happens if your pages aren’t in the search engines’ cache? You really only have one last resort: Archive.org the Internet Archive [which is, bar none, one of the crown jewels of the web BTW]. A couple years ago a client that I had built a website for called me, and told me their site was “gone.” After some investigation I found out that their had been a miscommunication and the web hosting company, who couldn’t reach my client, deleted all the site’s files. It had been a 2 years since I had done any work on the site and I didn’t have a backup, but even though they had all expired from the cache, I was able to find every page of that site on Archive.org.
The Internet Archive is a little hit-and-miss as to which sites they actually archive. Not a thing in there for this site, yet some garbage sites that I have had for a couple years have every page I’ve ever tossed onto a server in there.
All I can say is that I hope you never need this information, but hopefully if you do run into a lost website problem, [note to self and others: BACKUP YOUR FILES! In case of hard drive data recovery.]Â you’ll be able to recover gracefully with the help of the search engines’ cache and/or the Internet Archive.