What is Old'aVista?
Old'aVista is a search engine focused on personal websites that used to be hosted on services like Geocities, Angelfire, AOL, Xoom and so on. In no way it should compete with any of the famous search engines as it's focused on finding historic personal websites. You can find more details on why I created this website in the Why page
How did you acquire the data for the search index?
The data was acquired by scraping pages from the Internet Archive. I basically used a node application I built with some starting links and I saved all the links I found in a queue and the text from the pages in the index.
Old'aVista looks familiar, why is that?
Old'aVista's design is based on the 1999 version of the defunct Altavista search engine. The name of the website itself is a wordplay on Altavista. My original idea as to get old search engines and make them functional again, but I decided to make this website its own thing while maintaining the nostalgia factor.
Does Old'aVista compete with TheOldNet?
No, and it never will. Old'aVista is a search engine only and it's supposed to live alongside TheOldNet and other retro internet services. Old'aVista is focused purely on helping people find old personal websites that are served via TheOldNet and the Internet Archive.
Does Old'aVista compete with FrogFind?
No, even though FrogFind is also a search engine, their goal is very different than Old'aVista. FrogFind uses DuckDuckGo to search and serve modern web sites on VERY old computers.
Why is my search slow?
Unfortunately search queries in Old'aVista can take up to 1 minute to be fulfilled. The reason for that is that this website is built and maintained by a single person and it's hosted on a VPS from A2 Hosting with 1 gb of ram. The whole search index lives in a single Postgres table with more than 3 million records and growing. In practice that means that, if you have a query that returns a lot of results, it will take longer to be fulfilled. This situation can definitely be improved but I don't have the means to make that happen at the moment as I have to pay for my hosting out of pocket.
Why do I get irrelevant search results?
Because of how Postgres full text searches work, words like "the", "who", "a", "is", "it", which are known as "stop-words", are eliminated from the search as they are used very frequently. So if you search for "Doctor Who", you'll be searching for "Doctor", if you search for "The Sims", you'll be searching for "Sims" and if you search for "The Who", you'll be searching for nothing. There are ways to improve this, probably on a case by case manner, and I'm looking into them. But for now you can try to add more words to narrow the search down a bit more. Like "Doctor Who Tardis", "The Sims Maxis", "The Who Roger Daltrey".
Why do you have the option to search the Internet Archive?
The reason I added that option is because the Internet Archive website doesn't really work on retro systems and if you type a partial url that is valid on their site, it goes directly to that website. That doesn't happen if you search the Internet Archive here, but you also lose some of their features. Also, TheOldNet also uses the Internet Archive in their search feature, so you should get the same results here that you would there if you choose that option.
What are Top Searches?
Those are the most searched queries on the website, the more people search for a term, the higher that term is gong to rank on that list.
What are Old'aVista Highlights?
Those are the most clicked search results, every time a search result is clicked, the service registers it in its database and the highest ranking ones are listed on the homepage.
What is Cool Places?
Those are websites that I think are cool and you should check out. I'll add more of them later on.