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Recovering Deleted Web Pages

I recently had trouble upgrading this blog. No big deal, I thought, I will just restore the backup. The restoration went smoothly, except the part where I discovered that the backup was empty. Lesson learned (again): test your restore process!

Lucky for me, the Internet never forgets. These Firefox tools helped me restore the entries missing from my last good backup. I am sure there are similar tools  for other browsers. Once you display the content in the browser, you can save it and re-import it into your site. When you save, make sure you save the "Web Page, complete" so that you get images, CSS, and other related resources.

  • Lazarus Form Recovery: If all you lost was the content to a web form, then Lazarus will save you. Available for Firefox and Chrome, it is an impressive tool with great privacy features like encryption, ignoring passwords, and zeroing credit card information. Install this now, since it will only help you if it is running before your data loss! Now that I have found this tool, I am optimistic that I won't have any more lost posts due to accidentally hitting my back button, or a browser time-out.
  • CacheViewer Continued: This tool lets you search your local Firefox cache and display the page if it is available. Try this tool first because it is easy to clear your cache by browsing to the live (missing) URL. Before doing anything, turn on the menu bar and select File -> Work Offline so that you don't accidentally invalidate your cache. If you are lucky, you will find those partially completed private posts that won't be anywhere on the public Internet. The viewer is opened by enabling the add-on bar, and then clicking on the magnifying glass icon. Be aware that loading your cache can take a very long time, so be patient.
  • Web Cache View Plus: When you find a link to content that is unavailable (either because the site is down or you accidentally deleted it), then right click and select "Web Cache View". New tabs will open containing the cached web page at Google, the Internet Archive, and others. If the page is not cached, then blank tabs open.
  • The Way Back Machine: The Internet Archive's Way Back Machine is one of the most useful sites on the web. If your site doesn't come up in Web Cache View, don't despair. An older version might be available in the Way Back Machine. You can browse every time the site was crawled, and then follow the links within that version of the site.

Hopefully these tools will work for you. If not, then I guess you have to get to work recreating. These tips might help you deal with that realization:

  • Write down a bulletted list of everything you can remember about the content.
  • Take a deep breath. It is probably worth taking a break from your work to put things in perspective. You need to rebuild emotional strength to tackle a task you thought was completed.
  • Get to work, and have confidence that the content will be even better the second time you create it. It won't feel like it, but you have no evidence to the contrary.

Good luck!

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