In brief

  • Brave now redirects 404 errors to the Wayback Machine.
  • The Wayback Machine saves billions of webpages for anyone to look at.
  • The Internet Archive, which makes the Wayback Machine, first partnered with Brave back in 2017.

The Internet Archive today announced that the crypto-enabled browser, Brave, now redirects all traffic from “page not found” error pages to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, which then looks up former versions of the website it might have saved.

The goal is to “help make the Web more useful and reliable,” the duo proclaimed in a joint-statement.

The Wayback Machine is useful when searching for Internet content that might have been lost (in, for instance, a server crash), or deleted. (Decrypt, for example, used information lodged in the Wayback Machine to challenge Craig Wright on his claim that he’s Bitcoin’s creator, at the Oxford Union last year).

Since its conception 23 years ago, the Wayback Machine has archived over 900 billion URLs and over 400 billion web pages. It’s of vital importance; a study printed on the Wayback Machine’s website (which, ironically, was down when last we checked), suggests that the average life expectancy of a single site is between 44 and 100 days. Until the entire Internet goes on the blockchain—or distributed through peer-to-peer protocols such as IPFS—the Wayback Machine is our best bet.

The Internet Archive has been chums with Brave since 2017, the year it signed up to its crypto-payments system. Should Brave users wish, they can switch on Brave Rewards, which shifts some money, held in Brave’s Basic Attention Token (BAT), to the websites they visit.

Wallets can be loaded up with Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ether, or Brave’s own token. Customers of Brave can also earn BAT by opting into advertisements.

Since signing up in 2017, the Internet Archive has received over 9,000 BAT tokens, the equivalent of around $2,500, it reported in April 2019. Though a small sum, the Internet Archive sees it as “proof that the current web, the one that’s driven by ads that know our every move, doesn’t have to be the web of the future. There could be a better way that’s secure, private and supported by its citizenry.”