How to Find and Download Files that Are No Longer Available
We’ve all experienced it. You search for that perfect plugin to complete your project, only to find that it’s no longer available. Either the site is no longer up, the file has been removed or it’s been taken over by pr0n. The next step is to fire up search engines you hardly ever use. That’s right, I’m talking about you Live and Ask.com. But still, no luck. Every page you find that mentions the download file you need has a broken link. Arrghh, stupid Internet!
But wait! There’s still hope! There’s a tremendous resource on the Internet that people often forget about. It’s so powerful, that even though you’ve forgotten about it, it never forgets about you. It’s been stalking you for all of these years. It actually has the first website you ever made. You know, the one you deleted every trace of — the one that could ruin your career if anyone ever found out. That most excellent resource is called the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. It has a memory more powerful than your old girlfriend and can remember everything, exactly the way it happened, blinking text and all.
I recently used this powerful time traveller to find a Textpattern plugin that was no longer available for download. The site that hosted the file had fallen victim to some hardcore pr0n action and I was left with the broken-link-download-blues. Fortunately, I was able to copy the broken link and paste it into the Wayback Machine, which miraculously offered me the file that I needed. So next time, when you hit a broken download link and you can’t find that file, be sure to check the Wayback Machine before you completely give up.
In addition to being helpful to yourself, this resource could also be helpful to many other people. Although I’m too busy and focused on other projects to do what I’m about to suggest, if you have the time and resources, here’s an opportunity for an excellent online resource. You could scour the Internet for dead/broken file download links and then check to see if they’re available from the Wayback Machine. If they are, you can then add it to your website and either link to the Wayback Machine or better yet, download the files to Amazon S3 to make sure the files are always available. Furthermore, you can leave comments with links to the pages on software and plugin directories that contain those broken links. And if you’re really smart, you’ll automate the entire thing!