Trigger warnings for this article: information loss. Work-safe.
Last April, Geocities announced that it would shut down its website hosting service, but it gave no date.1 The deadline has now been given: Geocites will shut down on October 26, 2009.2 You don’t have long to archive your favorite sites on Geocities. How can this be done most efficiently? What sites might you want to save?
If Firefox3 is the web browser that you use, you can quickly find Geocities sites in your bookmarks (favorites) with an add-on such as Enhanced Bookmark Search4. If you usually browse the web with Internet Exporer instead, you could import Explorer’s bookmarks into Firefox, in this way: in Firefox’s menu, go to Bookmarks, Organize Bookmarks, File, Import.
This isn’t the quickest way, but you could download the sites manually, by hitting the “Save” button on each page within a site. (In most browsers, “Save” will be in the menu on the upper left, under “File.” The drawbacks to this method: it’s tedious, and it doesn’t capture web page elements made with Cascading Style Sheets. CSS is included in downloads made by a Firefox add-on called Save Complete.5)
It would be faster to download sites automatically using a program to do the work for you, such as an offline browser. I tried HTTrack Website Copier6, and I was sufficiently satisfied with its results that I didn’t try out some of the other free offline browsers I’d noticed in a Google search. (The others were Webreaper, Wget, and PageNest.7) HTTrack is a GPL offline browser for the operating systems Windows and Linux. HTTrack is easy to use: you give it an url (website address), or even a whole list of urls in a text file. (I’ll provide such a list at the end of this article. This method is the fastest because it requires less of your involvement, but it can cause problems with sites that don’t have an index page.) Then, all by itself, the program downloads the entire site, including the sub-pages, pictures, and anything else it finds in there.
After you download a back-up of a site, make sure you skim through it to make sure it’s all there. Sometimes Geocities says “Service temporarily unavailable,” and so those pages will fail to download. There are a couple of reasons why this problem is happening: maybe Geocities is getting overloaded with traffic because everyone is rushing for their last chance to download their favorite sites… or maybe Geocities’ service has always been unstable.
If your own website was hosted by Geocities, I hope you’re planning to move to another web host. Free web hosts are more common these days, so you can choose among them for the traits that suit you the best. The daily-updated website http://www.free-webhosts.com8 is a good way to compare free web hosts.
You can use Google to comb Geocities for web sites on specific topics. Type in your search terms, and then include the words “site:geocities.com” in that search (without the quotes).
I spent more time trying out keywords that could bring up sites on therianthropes and otherkin,9 animal-people and persons who consider themselves to be other than human, often in spirit. I discovered many more sites in addition to those that I described in my previous article. I have archived all the following Geocities sites, so if you miss out on this, you can ask me for a copy of the ones that you need. ( Read more... )