How to find and save your favourite pages after a website has closed

The BBC is 'archiving' its recipes, meaning that they'll still be available – but that close call should remind us to store the websites that we care about

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The Independent Tech

The BBC is archiving thousands of recipes from its website in what many are claiming as an act of cultural vandalism. The corporation has said they'll continue to be available – but what if they weren't?

Many people often claim that “nothing is truly deleted” on the internet. That saying isn’t as true as it might seem – things often do get deleted from the internet, and our information is being gradually degraded because we are often too lax about protecting it.

But noble people are working to keep as much of that knowledge as possible alive. And they’d have been able to do the same with the BBC recipe sites.

Perhaps the easiest and quickest thing to do if a site that you use and like is being removed from the internet is to create a mini-archive for yourself. If there are any recipes that you regularly use it’s probably best to go to them before they’re removed and save them as a PDF on your computer – you can then put them in something like Dropbox and have them available and backed up whenever you need them.

The easiest way to find any specific recipes is to head to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, which keeps a catalogue of almost every website ever published. That already has a cache of the BBC’s recipes, for instance, which can be accessed through its website.

The problem with that method is that they need to be found individually – and one of the BBC’s recipe’s strengths is that they were so easily findable through Google.

So the only real hope when a website gets removed is that somebody scrapes the entire website and hosts it again, online. That wouldn’t be technically difficult, though hosting such a website could be expensive for the person who chooses to do it.

The only problem this is likely to run into is if the copyright holder – like the BBC for its recipes – seeks to have them taken down. Treasures like the Wayback Machine exist because they are allowed to in a spirit of archiving and collection – but it has been forced to remove content in the past, when copyright holders argue that they want it taken down.

The Internet Archive has said before that it “has no interest in including materials in the Wayback Machine of persons who do not wish to have their Web content archived”.

Since the BBC would hold copyright to all of the recipes – the text, the pictures and the sites itself – anyone who makes them available publicly will be running the risk of being told to take them down by the BBC. But it seems unlikely that the corporation will be ill-willed enough to send out takedown requests, especially given that they are choosing to remove the pages.