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Internet user accessing information

20 November

Broken links will soon be a thing of the past for UK government websites, as The National Archives launches its unique Web Continuity project.

The first of its kind anywhere in the world, the project has already enabled millions of people using government websites to find information which would previously have been lost through broken web links.  The service is now leading to more than six million redirected hits a month.

Preservation of digital records

Dr Amanda Spencer, Head of Web Continuity at The National Archives, said: 'When it was first created, the internet was often regarded as ephemeral. Websites weren't viewed as records which needed to be preserved.

'However, as the internet has developed to be the predominate source of government information for most people, this has changed. Today, some information only ever exists online and as the experts in preserving the future of history, we have had to adapt.'

Web archive

The software enables users who click on a link that is no longer live to be taken automatically to where the information they need is held in The National Archives' UK Government Web Archive. The web archive regularly captures and preserves 1,500 government websites for posterity.

Dr Spencer added that while broken links are a problem across the whole of the web, 'The National Archives is the first to offer a solution'.

Six government departments have already installed the software, but the Web Continuity project is due to be formally launched at the House of Lords on 2 December 2009.