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Researching a domain's history

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The hosting of adult content, excessive pop-ups, drive-by downloads, spam, adware, viruses etc., can cause severe long term damage to a website. Don't buy a site without researching the history of the domain.

Due diligence should start at the Internet Archive at, also called the Wayback Machine. This is an online repository of how sites looked earlier, an archive that goes back many, many years. The Archive project doesn't record every single page of a site and certainly not every single change a page has been through but it provides access to snapshots of the site from when the occasions when the Archive spider visited. It typically does list pages crawled in the last six months or so - don't expect any very recent snapshots. To find out more about the Archive visit their FAQ page.

Research involves going beyond checking just the home page of the domain but historical content of other pages of the site too. Handy trick: When you're at a particular destination truncate the URL and replace with your chosen page. For example, when you get to*/ and replace the "" with "" to read:*/ and you get to see what the links.htm page used to look like. Notice any seedy or illegal material?

Not all sites allow access to the Archive's bot and those that don't may not have any history stored at The blocking of the Archive spider is not necessarily devious or underhand. Some webmasters block it simply because of the bandwidth it takes up.

So, in essence, the Wayback archive copies can sometimes be extremely insightful but the site itself is patchy and doesn't update often. It also frequently breaks down and is inaccessible. We'll provide you several other ways to check on the history of a site. Read about them here.

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