Frequently asked questions

For Website Owners

Can I donate my historical web content?
We are happy to consider donations of historical web content, particularly that which aligns with our collecting expertise and isn't well represented in other public web archives. Please contact our subject specialists directly or get in touch with the web archiving team.

Can SUL re-host my website in its current state?
SUL uses a web archiving approach for long-term preservation of and access to websites. This means accessing the website at its canonical, public location with capture tools like an archival web crawler, packaging the data in the WARC preservation format, and making the archived website available through access interfaces like the Stanford Web Archive Portal (SWAP). This allows us to make sustainable commitments for access to archived websites. Re-hosting is not sustainable, given the requirement to support the wide range of technologies, external service dependencies, and software versions that undergird historical websites.

How is an archived website different from a "live" website?
An archived website is a "flattened" version of its "live" counterpart, made up of those assets that a web capture tool was able and instructed to identify, locate, and download. In an access interface like SWAP, archived websites are navigable in much the same way as "live" websites but with added controls for temporal navigation. Features of the "live" website dependent on the original web server - for example, site search or other form processing - do not work within the web archive. The formatting and layout of the archived web content may also be discrepant with the "live" version, or content may be missing from the archive.

Are there limitations to the capabilities of web archiving technologies?
Web archiving technologies are constantly improving but tend to lag behind the pace of innovation on the Web. Capturing streaming multimedia, social media platforms, and content served via asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX) are particularly difficult.

How can I make my website easier to archive?
Following our archivability guidelines will make it easier to archive your website and with greater fidelity.

Stanford Web Archive Portal (SWAP)

How do I access SWAP?
SWAP is accessible at A growing number of archived web resources are also described in and discoverable through SearchWorks. These metadata records link directly to the archived web resources in SWAP.

What is meant by, "Resource not in archive"?
The archive is (necessarily) more discrete than the Web itself, so you may encounter broken links. The "Resource not in archive" error reflects content that we haven't collected because it didn't exist when we went to collect it, it was deliberately excluded from the capture scope, or it was too difficult to capture with the available technologies.

What is the "overlay" banner?
The overlay banner offers persistent temporal navigation controls while browsing archived web content. You can toggle the overlay using the link in the upper-right corner ("Show overlay" / "Hide overlay"). The expanded overlay offers additional temporal navigation controls, described below.

Can the "overlay" banner be hidden entirely?
The overlay banner can be minimized but not hidden entirely. We've elected to persist the banner to maintain the context of being within the archive as well as access to the web address search box and temporal navigation controls.

How can I search in SWAP?
SWAP does not offer full-text search, but you can search for web addresses in the index using the "Browse history" field on each page. We plan to develop web archive full-text search a complementary access service in the future.

What are SWAP's temporal navigation controls?

  • The resource page (e.g.,*/ presents a histogram and calendar for viewing and accessing the range of captures for an individual resource. You can access the resource page for any resource by searching for its web address in the "Browse history" field or by replacing the YYYYMMDDHHMMSS timestamp in the web address with a wildcard character ("*").
  • Individual web page captures (e.g., feature an overlay banner. In its minimized configuration, it features navigation links to access the previous and next captures. In the expanded configuration, it additionally offers a link to the resource page, links to the first and last captures, and date timelines where the darkness of the shading correlates with the number of captures in that time frame.

How can I discover the contents of SWAP?
You can manipulate the SWAP web address to retrieve listings of indexed content. If you replace the YYYYMMDDHHMMSS timestamp in the web address with a wildcard character ("*"), then truncate and append a wildcard character to the web address of the archived resource (e.g.,*/*), SWAP will present a tabular list of all archived resources "below" the truncated path along with their archived date ranges and number of captures, including both duplicate and unique versions.

Can I link to pages accessible through SWAP?
Yes; we plan to maintain the current link structure, and the web addresses of archived resources don't change.