Web archiving and web continuity guidance

Websites must meet a number of technical requirements to be successfully archived. These requirements are described The UK Government Web Archive: Guidance for digital and records management teams (PDF, 0.29MB). If your website is closing please refer to Annex B.

Also see creating an official public inquiry website.

Technical limitations of web archives

The following features normally will not work in web archives due to technical limitations:

  • The original website’s built-in search
  • Content that can only be reached by a user logging in
  • Certain navigational features, e.g. drop-down menus, tick boxes, some maps
  • Flash animations and games, streaming media and embedded social media.
  • Complex JavaScript
  • POST functionality
  • Content hosted on websites external to the target archived website, unless we know about it before we launch a crawl.

Web continuity technical guidance

We work with departments across government to reduce broken links on central government websites through providing an innovative redirection solution to the web archive.

To implement redirection, website managers must install and configure components on their web servers. The following guidance explains how this can be done:

They have been independently tested by a validation facility approved by AKAS (the UK Accreditation Scheme) under ISO/IEC 17025:2005.

There are other ways to redirect users to content in the web archive. The Government Digital Service outlined their approach in this blog post.

Linking to the UK Government Web Archive

It is easy to view and link to an index, or timeline, which shows all available snapshots of any page or resource in the web archive.

To see whether, and on which date(s), a URL has been captured, simply place http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/*/ immediately before the original URL, like this:

  • http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/*/http://fco.gov.uk/en/about-the-fco/history-and-buildings/

Each dated snapshot on this is presented in a YYYYMMDDHHMMSS datestamp format, for example:

  • http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20090504174659/http://fco.gov.uk/en/about-the-fco/history-and-buildings/

When linking to the web archive, please state that the site has been archived by The National Archives and is available through the UK Government Web Archive.

Contact us

If you have any comments, queries or feedback about the web archive, please email us: webarchive@nationalarchives.gov.uk

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