Web archivist saves 172 axed BBC websites in torrent time capsule

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A plucky BBC fan has set about the task of archiving almost 200 Beeb websites before distributing them online in a single torrent file.

The BBC plan to cull some 172 of their websites in a massive cost-cutting measure, citing increasing server fees as the reason. While some of these websites are linked to unpopular, long-dead shows such as VideoGaiden, more valuable destinations such as the personal memories of war survivors at WW2 People’s War will also face deletion.

“The material taken offline is stored for future reference or deleted altogether,” said BBC Online managing editor Ian Hunter.

The anonymous distributor (thought to be ex-BBC employee Ben Metcalfe), has suggested it is not just cost-cutting measures influencing the cull, but external pressure from the new coalition government too. In his words, the archive stands to “expose the ‘cost savings’ of this proposed exercise as nothing more than a charade to appease the detractors to a strong BBC, and to curry favour with the current government.”

The process of preserving the sites seems to hve been relatively straight forward. In just under 24 hours, the archivist bout a small virtual private server for around £2.50 and began downloading and indexing the sites in a process known as spidering, which automatically grabs and arranges the data intelligently. The whole thing could have been pulled off even quicker boasted the person believed to be Metcalfe, had he been “less kind to the BBC’s servers”.

You can pick up the torrent file by clicking here.

Gerald Lynch

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