‘Server not found’ can happen to any site — are you prepared?

“The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became truth.”
“1984” by George Orwell

A while ago I stumbled upon a nice website which did show some interesting ways to organize scientific work, especially regarding the interplay of Sente and DEVONthink. Unfortunately, when I now try to access the site, the server is not available anymore. Sure, there is the Wayback Machine of the Internet Archive, but it does not have everything (leading to a “Hrm. Wayback Machine doesn’t have that page archived.”).

One of the reasons why I really love DEVONthink. It offers Plugins for Firefox and Safari that allow you to quickly export the page you are reading as PDF, either paginated or everything on one (long) page. Given that you can search this PDF, Date and Time created are logged automatically, as well as the URL this gives you an easy way to make sure that what you have found is available later on. I use a dedicated DEVONthink database for websites (named Webcapture). Without this database the information would have been lost (to me).

There are many tools available that save websites, DEVONthink is just one example. Printing the page to PDF is very easy on the Mac (simply select print and an option in the PDF dropdown menu at the bottom left of the print dialog), but there are also dedicated applications. In any case, I would make sure that you save the snapshot on your harddrive (and sync/backup it from there). There are services that do snapshots, but who knows whether these services are available in the future.

And it’s not only that a service/website/page might not be available in the future. Information can also be altered. Having a “print out” as PDF is helpful here too.

So I can only strongly recommend to make a snapshot of the page you like instead of just saving the link as bookmark. Sure, you need the link to get back to the site for more information, but a page with interesting information might be gone any second — because the writer lost interest, his/her job, or countless other issues.

And yes, this also applies to this site and its contents.

1 Comment

  1. Another good option that doesn’t require a Mac at hand is to bookmark the site with Pinboard once you subscribe to the optional archiving service. Pinboard’s servers will fetch the page in it’s entirety and store it.

    I’ve been using this from just about everywhere – iPhone, iPad, etc. – and I am happy with the results.

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