White on transparent

Google Search will no longer make site backups while crawling the web

Google will no longer maintain an archive of the whole web. The “cached” links provided by Google Search were formerly a reliable means to access websites that were unavailable or had changed. However, the business is currently eliminating these links. According to Google “Search Liaison” Danny Sullivan, the feature “was meant for helping people access pages when way back, you often couldn’t depend on a page loading.” Danny Sullivan confirmed the feature removal in an X post. Things have significantly improved these days. Thus, the decision was made to retire it.

Since December, the feature has been coming and going for some users, and as of right now, Google Search is showing no cache links. As of right now, you can still create your own cache links without the button by entering “cache:” plus a URL into Google Search or by visiting “https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:” plus a website URL. Ars Technica’s cached version appears to be functional for the time being. Google has removed all of its support pages pertaining to cached websites.

Cache links were located beneath the drop-down menu that was adjacent to each search result on the Google homepage. The Google web crawler would save a duplicate of every webpage it saw while searching the Internet for fresh and updated content. As a result, Google soon had an almost complete backup of the Internet, utilizing presumably tens of petabytes of data. Given that Google is currently experiencing a cost-cutting phase, it should be able to free up a significant amount of resources by simply beginning to remove its cache.

Cache links were useful in case the website was unavailable or rapidly updated, but they also revealed some information about the “Google Bot” web crawler’s browsing habits over time. Not every page is shown exactly as you would expect. Pages used to be text-only, but over time, the Google Bot (of which there are now several specialized ones) learnt about media and other rich data, such as javascript. To keep SEO spammers away, many Google Bot information are kept under wraps, but you may still learn a lot by looking into what cached sites look like. Google made the switch to mobile-by-default in 2020, thus, for example, if you click on the previously cached Ars link, you will be redirected to the mobile site. You can still use the Search Console to find out more about how your website appears to a Google Bot if you are the site owner. However, this feature is limited to your own website.

The Internet Archive will have more work to do in order to archive and monitor changes to websites throughout the globe as a result of cached sites disappearing.

Scroll to Top