Date: 05.06.2014Last updated: 05.06.2014 at 14.45

Category: Archive

Carl Davies and Elliot Gibson from BBC Archives describe the work involved in archiving BBC Online.

In the last couple of months the BBC has been celebrating the success of 20 years of BBC Online. Many have asked how BBC Online has been archived over the years. The good news is that it’s been archived comprehensively, through a number of different approaches.

The key has been in working with institutions like The British Library's UK Web Archive and The National Archives's Online Web Archive, through sharing knowledge and ensuring consistency in standards, particularly around the international web archive standard WARC. This improves the ability to share online resources with each other in the future. This has led the BBC to adopt a more focused and widely accepted method of web archiving called crawling.

The Archive has been working with Hanzo Archives, a Web Archives specialist, who have recently completed a huge high quality crawl of BBC Online. This has resulted in well over 10 million pages being archived.

In addition, we have worked with the Internet Archive, based in California, to archive their copies of BBC Online. This gave us 16,000 crawls of BBC Online and over 170 million archived pages, dating back to 1994.

The Archive has also been creating screenshots and screencasts of BBC website user journeys and archiving selected high quality video and images which were created for the website. We also had an internal web archive from 2005 to 2010, which created millions of pages and we are in the process of looking to preserve this material and convert to WARC if possible.

Lastly, but by no means less important, the Archive has been selecting documentation created around the BBC’s online development. From wireframes and design planning, through to reports and research, we now have a very thorough archive of important documentation around some of the BBC’s key online services, including BBC iPlayer, apps and the homepage designs.

The future of archiving the BBC website is ever evolving. We will continue to crawl the site, and will ensure we keep working with The British Library and The National Archives where possible to share more knowledge and experience.

We will also keep archiving our unique web content in the highest possible quality, and will explore new approaches to archiving websites as and when they become available.

BBC Online screengrab

Screenshot from Welcome to the BBC UK Index Pages. (c. 1997)

Lead image is a screengrab of BBC Online from 1997. Both images are taken from collections in BBC Archives.

Carl Davies is an Archive Innovation Executive in BBC Archives.

Elliot Gibson is a Senior Media Manager in BBC Archives.

We now have a very thorough archive of important documentation around some of the BBC’s key online services including BBC iPlayer, apps and the homepage designs."

Carl Davies & Elliot Gibson

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