Need to see changes made to a WordPress-based site in the past? Regardless of if you were behind them or an unrelated person, we can see several reasons you want to do so. Although people suggest not looking back, introspection is a powerful tool, and lets you learn from past mistakes or reformulate the work you put in the past. Old results may also serve as inspiration to create something, or a demonstration to a potential employer as a shining example of your effort. Since we can’t know what your motivation is, we’ll demonstrate how to see old versions of any WordPress site in general.
Note. We have no affiliation with any tools mentioned below. Our goal is to present distinct options and provide you with alternatives.
1. Utilize Google Cache to view old WordPress site versions
The term “old” in this context merely means there’s a newer version of the site, not necessarily that years have passed. Consequently, you can take advantage of Google caching functionality, so long the version you want to see was recently available. Here’s what to do:
- Do a Google search for site:www.your-website.com
- Tip. You can also add extra search terms separated by backspace to narrow down a page on that website.
- Once the page appears in search results, click the tiny triangle (▼) next to the title.
- Select Cached, and you’ll see the last cached version of the site in question.
2. Look for an old WordPress site backup to see old versions
As you might have guessed, the precautions you have taken in the past can facilitate a straightforward solution. On that note, you must ask yourself about the number of manual backups you’ve created. Alternatively, try to remember whether you employed a service that automatically creates backups in regular intervals. If the answer is no, feel free to skip ahead. However, if your response is positive, you should examine how far the backup goes. If there’s one around the time of some old versions of a WordPress site you’d like to see, you’ve saved yourself time and effort.
We can’t provide an exact set of steps since they depend on whether you’ve utilized one of the leading backup plugins for WordPress or signed up for a third-party service that uses proprietary tools. Either way, your website backup will likely use a compressed archive format, such as ZIP or RAR. However, you shouldn’t import it to your main website. As an alternative, install WordPress locally, create a secondary website with your web hosting provider, or employ a staging environment many web hosting services offer. Use the instructions your backup provider supplied, and load the archive. Your website will look and function like on the day it was created.
Check page and post revisions for a WordPress website
Are you the website owner? If so, there’s a high probability you’re one of many people that only want to see one or several pages or posts from the past. Therefore, we thought we’d remind you of this option. WordPress comes with a built-in revision feature that can save a couple of dozen versions of a page or post, even going as far as 100. Follow these steps to access the revisions for a post or page by default:
- Access the WordPress Admin area.
- Click on Posts → All Posts or Pages → All Pages.
- Open the page or post in question. Now, depending on the WordPress editor, do this:
- Classic Editor: Check the “Publish” meta box on the right-hand side. Find an entry called “Revisions”, and you’ll see a number of available ones. Click the Browse link, and you can view revisions in chronological order.
- Block Editor: Expand the settings menu in the top right corner. Under the Document tab, find the option titled “X Revisions”, X being the number of available ones, and click it. You may now preview older instances of a page or post.
Note. Many website owners limit the number of revisions to, say, ten. Others disable the feature altogether to save database size. If that’s your case, revisions might not date too far back if they even work.
3. Use Archive.org’s Wayback Machine
Have you heard of Wayback Machine, a tool Internet Archive, a not-for-profit digital library of the Internet, offers for free? It has created snapshots of over 665 billion web pages at this time. Has a WordPress site had noteworthy traffic around the time of the old version you want to see? If so, do this:
- Head over to the official website for Wayback Machine.
- Enter your website URL, and click Browse History.
- You’ll see a calendar, and highlighted dates containing snapshots. Clicking on any item shows whether there were multiple snapshots created that day.
- Right-click and open the snapshot in a new tab. You can now interact with your old website as you would any other.
- Note. Links are likely broken, and you may not see all multimedia content.
4. View the old WordPress site versions via Oldweb.today
Contrary to the first method, Oldweb.today is an online tool that lets you see old websites, and even preview the way they looked in outdated browsers through an emulator. After all, WordPress was released in late May 2003, and we want to cover both sides of the spectrum. Using the website is dead simple—enter the URL and the year, month, day, and time of day. Try multiple times until you find what you want.
5. Employ Archive.today web tools
Archive.today website supplies a similar tool to the one above, but it works voluntarily. Thus, if you’ve never used it, it’s a precaution to ensure you never encounter this problem again. However, if the WordPress website was or is popular, there’s a chance other users have submitted a snapshot request. Since the tool is free to use, you have nothing to lose by entering a query under “I want to search the archive for saved snapshots” and clicking search.
6. Search for a website using Mementoweb’s Time Travel tool
Going back to tools that have an extensive library of cached websites, WordPress and otherwise, we present the official Mementoweb Time Travel website. Enter a URL, edit the date, add a time (or keep it blank), and click on Find. It will search several archives, such as Stanford Web Archive, Archive-It, UK Web Archive, and Icelandic Web Archive. Click the search results link, and you’ll be redirected to the corresponding archive’s website.