As a web developer I have encountered my fair share of customers who messed up and lost both their website and their backups. Fortunately, there are services out there that recover sites from the Internet Archive.
I personally tried out these three:
I stumbled upon it after reading this positive review on hackrepair. Don’t be misled by their spammy domain name: this tool has been the easiest to deal with.They are not cheap, but by far the best solution for WordPress sites and custom options. Jim Walker from HackRepair already reviewed this service in so much details, that there is not much to add. Their main caveat: the scraper itself is incredibly slow: it took a few hours to scrape a domain with 200 odd pages. However, they beat the competitions hands down on quality, customer support, and number of features. Documentation is also great. It’s my go-to option.
Their WordPress results aren’t always that useful though. I once ordered a WordPress version, and ended up using the HTML version, because it was easier to deal with. It’s nice of them that they send you both sites. My customers obviously like the WordPress version better, because they get a heart-attack if they see some lines of HTML. The WordPress part is generally good value for the additional $60, but only for specific customers and sites. Next time, I’ll contact them first to ask if the site is a good fit. Their tech support is incredibly responsive and fast.
2. Wayback Machine Downloader as a Rails gem on Github
This package is not really made for end-customers. It’s a Ruby-on-Rails gem/package, so it’s super useful if you have to create your own application that needs to scrape or recover websites from the Wayback Machine. I suspect the paid services used this as the basis for their own tool.
As a standalone tool, it’s use is questionable. I made it work though, and the best thing: it’s free! I spent a good hour making it work; I’d rather pay the $15 for an online service, than trade my time for money. There is no option to integrate this with WordPress or another CMS.
3. The Wayback Downloader from Seoscrapers.com
Simple, easy, and cheap. It seems to be Russian-made, and those Eastern European guys normally know how to code. I like the integration with their Google plagiarism checker that checks if content has a match in Google’s index. It makes PBN building a lot easier when you can automatically remove duplicate content. No WordPress integration: this seems to be a tool aimed at SEO’ers building cheap PBNs – hence the page about expired domains.
It’s safe to say that when you’re considering backing up or restoring a website, you have a fair amount of choice when deciding on the website or system you need to complete the work. Whether you’re planning on scraping the web archives for that favorite website from your youth, or are seeking to rebuild the website you’ve lost after a traumatic loss of data. Whether a missed hosting fee has led to your site being shut down, or that you have been targeted by a particularly cruel hacker, it’s a huge relief to know that there are ways of retrieving what you’ve lost – even if it comes with a fee. By downloading the files that make up your website, it doesn’t take a web developer qualification to give you the ability to rebuild your site from the bottom up.
In the end, every option has its own pros and cons. For my customers, I’ll keep using the guys from Waybackmachinedownloader.com. If I ever develop my own tool, I’ll use the Ruby gem, and if I ever decide to go back to the PBN game, then Seoscrapers seems worth another try.