As a web designer, there have been many times in my career when I need to grab a copy of a website and share the files or save the files to my local machine. Often, this is part of an archiving process, especially when a client’s site is undergoing a significant redesign or moving platforms.
My best practice for archiving a website is two-fold:
- Submit the site that is finished with a redesign or about to go through a redesign to WayBack Machine. This creates an online, publically accessible website archive at that point in time.
- Save a local copy of the old and new websites. This copy is simple HTML and not dependent on server set-ups, framework versioning, plugin, package dependencies, etc. I grab this archive-worthy website copy using a website archive application, like SiteSucker or A1 Website Download.
Website Archive Applications
Sometimes Git, FTP, cPanel, or other credentials are not an option. Also, how do you grab a copy of a website, let’s say, created and hosted by Tumblr, Medium, or another online Content Management System? In these cases, there are third-party apps that can make grabbing a copy of a site an easy task.
For instance, my design portfolio website, kellybarkhurst.com, is a theme attached to my Tumblr blog account. There’s no FTP access available through Tumblr; updates to the site are made solely through Tumblr’s online access. I use SiteSucker to grab copies of my website periodically. With one click, I now have HTML files on my local machine for each post and all the images and text included in each post. This allows me to have a backup in case Tumblr ever goes down, I get locked out of my account, banned, etc. It’s a fail-safe that keeps the documents of years of my work backed up safely.
SiteSucker is a Mac-based application that automates downloading websites from the Internet. SiteSucker is a tool that localizes a website’s files from an active URL. This means the app downloads a live website’s files to your Mac. SiteSucker is a paid app that, in 2022, costs under $5.
SiteSucker is great for grabbing a local website copy on an online CMS like Squarespace, Wix, Tumblr, and more. For special configuration tips on how to grab an archival copy of a SquareSpace site, check out the SiteSucker FAQs.
A1 Website Download
A1 Website Download is a Windows or Mac app that downloads entire websites to your computer. A free trial allows you to use this fully functional application for 30 days. In 2022/23, it costs under $30 to purchase.
I hope these tools help you save time while saving and archiving websites, especially sites you only have access to via your browser.
Common questions about downloading a copy of a website
No. Using A1 Website Download or SiteSucker is best for grabbing a copy of a website you can save, view, and read on your local machine. I mostly use this technique to reference a site and how it looks at a specific time. It’s great for making screenshots or archiving a website; I especially find this useful for making new images for use in your portfolio website for years to come. Alternatively, Wayback Machine is a great way to see a snapshot of a website at a specific point in time.
Yes, this can happen. Some servers and websites will and can flag this behavior. The A1 Website Download app has settings to help prevent blockage.
For instance, I was able to successfully grab a client’s old Joomla site by using the Joomla CMS website (with crawler throttling) setting, and unsuccessful while not using this setting.