Web archiving involves using software to take periodic snapshots to preserve as much data as you need about your organization’s website, including any associated metadata. These snapshots will allow you to track and to document even the slightest changes made to the website.
The benefits are that this practice shows your records management program:
- is proactive about capturing and preserving its records.
- will be, to a greater extent, ready for legal disputes. For instance, consider whether your organization would ever need to investigate or to examine posts or comments that were edited or deleted.
- will be able to fulfill public information requests for the purpose of researching gradual changes to your organization’s website as a whole instead of just content from a single, current webpage.
- has the potential to reconstruct its website if the need arises.
- will have the capacity to examine what its website or one of its webpages looked like in April 2020 versus at another point in time, and it will be able to provide this information to others.
Rather than, at most, regarding our websites and social networks as instruments to disseminate small chunks of information in the moment, we could think of them as complex, dynamic systems that are products and reflections of the doings and the histories of our organizations, including their peaks and valleys, which are worth capturing and preserving.
Other things to consider are the cost of the storage that will be needed to meet retention and security obligations, the level of ease certain web archiving systems will bring in accessing your records as technology changes, and any records management policies that may need revision to comply with state laws and rules and in anticipation of any public information requests for records that were created through any technology used by your organization to carry out its day-to-day operations. Last but not least, think about how the ease of access to your records, their security and management, and your service contract could be affected if your web archiving provider experiences an event that threatens its systems or if it joins forces with another company.
If you are interested in taking a closer look at web archiving, explore these resources:
- While TSLAC does not recommend any one provider or type of software for web archiving, you can browse through these websites for ideas on what your government or agency might want to implement for its records management program:
- Library of Congress:
- Minnesota Historical Society:
- Washington State Archives: