Google's 'Cached' Links Feature Is Killed Because 'Things Have Greatly Improved'

Google Cache

Websites on the web experience a lot of things, and they can affect the way the websites behave.

For starters, websites can experience downtime, slow loading, blocked access and others. Google on the other hand, has one of the most reliable servers on the internet and because of that, it has what it calls the 'Cached' link feature.

What it does, is taking snapshots of web pages of websites as they appeared when Google last crawled them.

Google does this to create backups of them, in case the original pages were unavailable for the aforementioned reasons.

But this time, Google has decided to remove the feature for good.

In a post on X, Google Search Liaison said that the feature "was meant for helping people access pages when way back, you often couldn't depend on a page loading."

But in the modern days of the internet, "things have greatly improved. So, it was decided to retire it."

The word "improved" here means a lot.

For example, the internet has advanced far enough that reliability has improved tremendously.

With more stable internet connections, the need for cached versions as backups diminished.

Then, due to how fast web pages can evolve, cached versions could soon become outdated. And for Google, serving users these outdated pages can potentially mislead users.

Besides the resources required to store cached web pages in the growing web, Cached links requires legacy feature maintenance, and according to Google, this is no longer worthwhile.

Cached links used to live under the drop-down menu next to every search result on Google's page.

As the Google web crawler scoured the Internet for new and updated webpages, it would also save a copy of whatever it was seeing.

But this move quickly led to Google having a backup of basically the entire internet, using what was probably an uncountable number of petabytes of data.

Google is in the era of cost savings, so assuming Google can just start deleting cache data, it can probably free up a lot of resources.

Google Cache Links
The link to a web page's Google Cached links could be found on the bottom-right of the 'About This Result', before Google removed it.

Preserving the history of the internet and its media is an ongoing challenge, and Google in removing its Cached links feature means that the internet is losing one of the most viral preservation tools it has.

This means that preserving the World Wide Web is becoming increasingly difficult in the long term.

The Internet Archive has been a popular place where people can see how web pages appear in the past, and that for many people, it's the fallback they would go to if Google's cache didn't have the web page version they needed.

With Google's Cached links no longer available, the Internet Archive is becoming the de facto choice.

The death of Google's cache means that the Internet Archive has a larger burden of archiving and tracking changes on the world's web pages than ever before.