A webpage doesn’t stay accessible forever. In many situations, you will land on a 404 not found page when clicking links on the internet. Fortunately, there are cached versions of the webpages that you can try to retrieve when you are not able to access the live page. For example, Google regularly takes snapshots of webpages that we can view later. Cached pages in in Google’s servers are essentially backup of original content stored in origin web server. Practically search results come with cached link and clicking on it allows you to view cached copy of a webpage, instead of the current live version. Similar to Google, there is also an Internet Archive having billion of cached webpages. Also web browsers like Chrome stores the local cache of the site’s you visit. In this article let us discuss different ways to view cached page when it is not accessible online.
Remember, the cached copy from Internet (Google and Internet Archive) is the latest snapshot while from Chrome browser is the version when you visited the page last time.
Why a Webpage is Inaccessible?
You may not able to access a webpage due to one of the following reasons:
- Traffic spike that causes the website to perform very slowly.
- Site owner might have remove the webpage thus accessing the page will result in 404 not found error.
- Website owner might have blocked the content with a paid subscription or registration that has been previously accessible.
How to View Cached Copy of a WebPage?
Here are few ways to view cached copy of a webpage:
- Use Google search cached copy
- View cache from Chrome address bar
- Get copy from Wayback Machine archives
- Using Chrome extension from Chrome Web Store
- With third party Chrome cache viewer software
- Use show saved copy button by disconnecting Internet
- View cached pages directly from Chrome browser cache
The first four methods are to show the cached content from Internet. The rest three are to view Chrome’s local cached copy. Note that the servers operated by Google are usually faster than typical web servers, so cached pages will load faster than the original versions.
Use our Google cache checker tool to confirm the last cached date of a webpage in Google server.
1. View Cache from Google Search Results Page
Follow these steps to get the cached version of a webpage from Google Search.
- Type the URL or keywords related to the page in Google search box and hit enter.
- Choose the result entry that you want and click the downward facing arrowhead at the end of URL or breadcrumb.
- Click on “Cached” from the context menu.
When a cached page is displayed, the header section shows the date and time of the cache and a reminder that the current page could have changed in the meantime. You should also know that Google might omit the cached link if the owners have asked Google to not cache their websites and remove the existing cached version. Because the cached webpage is simplified for faster access, you will get missing backgrounds and broken images.
To remove all graphics, you can choose to read the plain text version by clicking on the “Text-only version” link. However, in some cases, this will actually make the webpage more difficult to read, because the layout has been distorted. You can always click the back button on your web browser or click “Full version” link to get back to the previous version.
2. View Cache from Chrome Address Bar
This is another handy method to view cached copy of a webpage. Follow these steps:
- Open Chrome web browser.
- Type “cache:” in the address bar of the browser, followed by the target URL.
- As an example, if you are looking for the cached version of www.wikipedia.org, then you need to type in “cache:www.wikipedia.org”.
- The result will look similar to the cached version you see from Google Search.
3. View Cache Using Wayback Machine
Another easy way to view cached copy of a webpage is by using the Wayback Machine. The Internet Archive is a digital library that crawls and indexes all webpages available on the Internet. These pages are stored as snapshots in archives based on the calendar. It is known as Wayback machine and contains more than 300 billion of archived pages from the past.
You can access information of the currently missing webpage, if it was accessible in the past. Open Chrome and go to Internet Archive site, type in the target URL in the search box field and press enter.
A calendar interface will be displayed and you can choose cached version for a specific date. You should be aware that the information can be outdated if the cached version is very old.
Note: Actually you can use any web browsers like Firefox, Safari or Edge for viewing Internet archive of webpages.
4. View Cache Using Chrome Extension
You can use Chrome extensions to view the cached copy of a webpage from Wayback Machine or Google Cache. Open your Chrome browser and go to the Chrome Web Store. Look for “Web Cache Viewer” extension and install it on your browser.
Generally, you can right click any link on a webpage in Google Chrome and choose “Web Cache Viewer” option. You can choose to view the cached page from either Wayback Machine or Google archive.
This extension is very useful to get the archived pages when 404 not found error is shown. If you do not find the link on any existing webpages, then paste the complete URL in a Notepad or TextEdit file. Save the file with .html extension and then open it using Chrome browser. Now, you can right click on the link and use Web Cache Viewer extension to access the cached version.
5. View Chrome Cache Using Third Party Software
There are software solutions that allow you to directly view the cached copy of a webpage from Chrome browser. This is an indirect way of accessing cache and you don’t even need to have Internet connection. However, you must have already visited the website in the past.
ChromeCacheView is one of the third party solutions available for Windows to view cache from Google Chrome. The software locates and reads the cache folder of Chrome web browser. This method is useful if Google has somehow removed the cached version of the webpage from search results and the live version of the webpage is inaccessible as well. Note that if you have cleared the web browser cache recently, the cached webpage might have been deleted forever.
Download the executable file and open from any folder. This will show all cached files from Chrome’s cache. You can export the cached files to HTML report and open on the browser using the URLs.
Note: Chrome cache is stored under “C:\Users\Username\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default\Cache” in Windows 10. However, these files will have no extension hence you may not be able to view the content easily.
6. Use Show Save Copy Button in Chrome
First turn off your Internet connection, so that the cache on Chrome is not over written. Now go to the URL “chrome://flags/#show-saved-copy” and choose “Enable: Primary” option. You should relaunch the browser for the changes to take effect.
This flag will enable to view saved copy of a webpage when the connection is not available as mentioned in the definition.
When a page fails to load, if a stale copy of the page exists in the browser cache, a button will be presented to allow the user to load that stale copy. The primary enabling choice puts the button in the most salient position on the error page; the secondary enabling choice puts it secondary to the reload button. – Mac, Windows, Linux, Chrome OS, Android.
After enabling the flag, go to the webpage URL you want to view the cache. Chrome will show the error “err_internet_disconnected” along with a “Show saved copy” button. Click on the button to view the cached copy from Chrome.
7. View Cached Copy of a Webpage from Chrome Hex Dump
Since Chrome browser also stores the cached copy of sites you visit, if the live page is not accessible, you can try retrieving the page from your Chrome browser’s cache. Go to the URL, “chrome://view-http-cache/” or “chrome://cache/”. This page will show all the cached pages on your Chrome browser. Search for the URL you want to view and click on it. It will open the page like below:
If you could not find the URL, try opening with the shortcut “chrome://view-http-cache/FULL-URL-HERE”. Ensure to replace the “FULL-URL-HERE” text with the complete URL you want to view (with https/http and www). Chrome stores the cache as hexadecimal code dump, so it is not possible to view the page as it shows from live server. You can read the article in stack overflow and check any of the scripts mentioned can be used for your purpose.
What if You Can’t View the Cached Version?
In some situations, you can’t find the cached version of the website. This happens when the administrator modifies robots.txt file to prevent the caching process. People may do this if they don’t want the content retained elsewhere. There’s actually a huge dark territory of the web that search engine crawlers can’t access, such as information stored behind a login-based system, private discussion forums, paid online newspaper and others.
You may confirm this by searching for the content=”noarchive” entry in the webpage’s source code. If the robots.txt file prevents the crawlers from indexing the website, you shouldn’t expect to see any cached content in Google’s search result or from Wayback Machine. Also, you can use Google cache checker tool to verify whether Google has the cached copy of the page and the date of cache.
However, you should be able to get the cache from local Chrome browser’s cache if you have visited the page before.
If you actively seek information on the web, Google Cache is a useful feature. Most of the time, you can get a copy version of the website that’s indexed by the crawler. Even if you rarely use it on a daily basis, there should be a time when you will benefit from it. This is especially true if the webpage becomes inaccessible due to various reasons. In other situations, the webpage is still accessible, but the administrator has removed a piece of crucial information. If online cache is not accessible for any reasons like the site owner restrict from crawlers, you should try to get the cached copy of a webpage from your local Chrome browser’s cache.