More properly known as the Internet Archive, it’s a very useful resource.
Time and again I come across a dead link. No matter how I try to massage it, the page – sometimes even the whole site – is gone and I can’t look at what it used to contain.
Or can I?
Google’s cache can sometimes yield a little gold when it comes to resurrecting a page that is no more (it has ceased to be, it has expired and gone to meet its maker, it is an ex page) but the Crème de la Crème de la Crème (or possibly brûlée de la Crème) has to be The Wayback Machine.
As long as TWM has scanned the particular page at some point in time where it contained the information you seek, you may well be able to pull it up, sometimes years after the site has ceased to exist.
This can be very useful when trying to obtain freeware or open source materials that, for one reason or another, are no longer immediately accessible.
It’s even more useful when used as part of an intelligence gathering exercise. On more than one occasion I have had a client ask me to find out all I can about a company whose website has been taken down.
Using Google’s cache and/or TWM, it doesn’t take long to resurrect at least one page from the original site, and sometimes embedded in that page are links to other pages, and before long I have a reasonably useful idea of what was happening to the company shortly before their apparent disappearance off the face of the Internet.
It’s not perfect, of course. Sometimes the webmaster or other admin of the site knows enough to ask Google and TWM to delete all cached pages, in which case an indirect approach is called for.
But if I tell you what that is, I won’t be able to earn a living for myself…