I’m little chagrined to admit this, but I discovered a new use for Google: Web page recovery service for hapless webmasters. I’d been cleaning up some obsolete files on tweney.com earlier this week (a bunch of stuff left in the old www.tweney.com area, which I’ve long since moved under dylan.tweney.com). When I went to make sure the site was still working, I noticed — oops — that instead of a home page I got a bare list of files. WhooOOOPS! I had deleted index.html by mistake.
Not to worry, I thought — I’ll just re-upload the old index.html. Not so fast — for some reason, I didn’t have a local copy either. I could have dug through old backups of my home system, but that would have taken ages. Instead, I Googled “tweney.com” and sure enough, the old home page was cached right there. I brought up the cached version, viewed source, and found the original code (from the opening HTML tag to the closing HTML tag) was all there, intact. Paste into a new document, upload, and voila — restore from Google.
I don’t recommend this use of Google, since you have no control over when Google indexes and caches your site. It doesn’t capture any of the logic you might have behind your pages, either, so it only works for static HTML pages. And it’s probably not a great solution for restoring a whole site. But for piecemeal, last-minute, desperate resurrections of deleted files — well, why not?
File this one under “unintended uses for powerful technology.” I’m looking for a good analogy — it’s sort of like using a rifle to open a can of soup, or cooking a chicken on the engine block of your Chevy Nova. It ain’t pretty, and it ain’t right, but it works.