Google has officially retired the feature that allowed users to access archived backups of websites through the “cached” link. This tool, a longtime staple of Google Search, permitted users to view changed or unavailable webpages by accessing backups. According to Google Search Liaison Danny Sullivan, the retirement is due to improvements in page loading reliability over the years.
While discussions about a potential partnership with the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine for historical versions are ongoing, nothing has been confirmed yet. For website owners and developers interested in understanding how Google’s crawler interprets their pages, Sullivan suggests using the URL Inspector tool in Google Search Console, which remains available.
Google’s decision to discontinue the web caching service is viewed as a cost-saving measure, freeing up computing resources previously allocated to archiving website backups. Over the past few months, the cached link feature gradually disappeared, and currently, no cache links are visible in Google Search results. All support pages related to cached links have also been removed.
With Google stepping back from web caching, the responsibility for archiving websites falls more heavily on entities like the Internet Archive and its Wayback Machine. Users looking to access cached pages can use browser extensions like the Official Wayback Machine Extension or create personal cache links by typing “cache:” plus a URL into Google Search.
Google’s move signals a change in how online content is stored and made available over time. As Google removes its web caching service, organizations like the Internet Archive become more crucial in preserving old versions of webpages and maintaining a record of the internet’s past amid the rapid development of the online world.