Google has discontinued one of its oldest services, one aimed at saving snapshots of websites in case one was somehow no longer viewable.
The Google Cache website archive, which allowed users to quickly check what older versions of a website looked like, is now no longer available, according to the company's so-called Search Liaison, Danny Sullivan.
"It was meant for helping people access pages when way back, you often couldn't depend on a page loading. These days, things have greatly improved. So, it was decided to retire it," Sullivan said on the social media platform X in February.
Google had built the cache to save a back up of a website in case the original went offline or was slow to load. However another unintended benefit was internet transparency, since users could easily see if changes had been made to a website.
Companies or political campaigns trying to scrub unwanted information from their website could then easily be caught out by looking at the earlier version stored by Google.
The link to the Google Cache used to appear as a small menu next to every search result, but this option is now gone, Sullivan said.
One future alternative could be links to the Internet Archive from Google Search, Sullivan said. This archive, which was launched as a non-profit project, also offers an extensive archive of many websites with its Wayback Machine.
According to the operators, snapshots of more than 865 billion websites can be retrieved there, with some daily changes to some websites viewable over a period of years.