• 08.01.04

Where Do Old Web Sites Go to Die?

When URL stands for U R Lost… or Left Behind… or Languishing… there’s still hope.

You’re happily trolling the Web, visiting your favorite sites. You type in, and a message pops up: “404 — Page not found.” Or a cheesy ad from a hosting service. Huh? What gives? It was there yesterday. Where did it go?


In a world where the average life span of a Web page is just 77 days, sites often just vanish. Their owners either lose interest or stop paying to maintain them — and the host providers unceremoniously yank them off the Net. It’s that simple.

Can you ever find them again? Sometimes — thanks to a half-dozen archive services. The Internet Archive (, for one, saves 35 million sites every two months, totaling billions of pages. Want to flash back to, a dotcom purveyor of . . . just balls that went belly up in 2002? Plug it into the Archive’s Wayback Machine, and presto! Your favorite oldies, resurrected. It’s a matter of historic interest, says the Archive’s Michele Kimpton: “As time goes on, people will want to save and access the Internet, and the content will become more valuable.”