Family of N

How Do You Save Web Content for Later?

Posted in Uncategorized by Laura on February 17, 2009

I have this unreasonable fear that all the good articles on the Internet are going to disappear one day. I think I’ve been burned by one too many sites that retired content, or that failed to back up and subsequently lost everything. So if I can, I save the most useful, inspiring, and beautiful web content locally, just. in. case. As a result, my bookmarks list is small, but I think I have half the internet saved on my hard drive. (What, the Internet has more than 200GB of information? Maybe I’m using a really good compression algorithm….)

I’ve been refining my “clipping” techniques for years and finally feel like I have a solution that works for me. I’ve come a long way from my primitive days of web browsing, when I would copy and paste favorite articles into Open Office and export them as PDF files.

After to many years of that, I started using Google Reader to read blogs, and it was much easier to capture articles by starring blog posts in Reader. (Most things I find these days are at least referenced in a blog, so that covered nearly everything.)

But as time went on, I got paranoid again about all of that content disappearing, so for a while I copied and pasted this kind of thing in BasKet Note Pads, a Linux-only tool for managing notes. I like that it will export any subset of your notes into a neat HTML document. Unfortunately, it does not export to another BasKet Note Pads application, and development has seemed to dwindle off.

I was really happy when I found a Firefox extension called Scrapbook. As I browsed the web, I could select text or pictures in Firefox to save it locally, and any time I wanted to, I could export the content to another computer.

But when Google Chrome came out, I knew I needed to switch browsers. I open and close a ridiculous number of tabs (I have thirteen open now), and Chrome has an innovative way of managing tabs in memory. And Scrapbook was not available as a Chrome plug-in.

Fortunately, by that time, a web-based tool called Snipd had come out of invitation-only alpha testing. Snipd seemed a nice compromise for me. I still wished I had a true local copy of all my favorite web content, but I at least got some measure of assurance having a duplicate of all of my favorite stuff at Snipd. But I couldn’t get over its limited organization capability.

Then I discovered Evernote. Like Snipd and Scrapbook, it saves a link to the original site, so I can return to check out comments later on. It stores the content on a server so I can access it from anywhere via the web interface, but I can also download everything locally just. in. case. It doesn’t have the most robust organization system, but it lets you store articles in separate notebooks and give them hierarchical tags. Plus you can search very easily and export the data in a variety of formats.

I save articles on homeschooling, parenting, and finances, tutorials for money-saving projects, pictures of tastefully decorated (and organized!) homes, and recipes, to name a few. These are things that will be useful to me years from now, when the original content might have been taken down.

What do you do when you see something online that you think you’ll want to come back to in five years?

One Response

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  1. Alan said, on February 17, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    What about the google cache?

    Then there’s the wayback machine and the internet archive project:

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