Google Seceder June 17, 2013 12:11 PM   Subscribe

PSA: Google Reader shuts down in two weeks. Several alternatives capable of importing your subscription lists and starred items (exportable via Google Takeout) have popped up since the closure announcement, and that's OK. But there's one highly valuable aspect of Reader nobody can replicate and that will soon be lost forever: Reader's vast archive of cached feed data. Here's how to save it all.

Every feed ever submitted to Reader has its metadata, plaintext, and other embedded media stored in Reader's servers -- even for sites that died years ago. For many sites, it is the last remaining record of their content -- an ordered, organized, comprehensive, and searchable list of thousands of items where coverage is spotty or robots.txt files block the way.

This huge trove of data, which made Reader's personalized search of all your subscriptions so powerful, is being destroyed at the end of the month. But while Google Takeout lets you easily export several kinds of data, including an OPML subscription list and starred items, this far more complete archive is hidden away in Google's server racks.

Luckily, the unofficial Reader API gives users (unintentional?) access to this database, and can provide a complete list of any feed's contents for backup. offers a page with a plain textbox that will generate this page for you. Just drop in an RSS feed URL and hit the download link to get a raw JSON formatted list of up to 9,999 items. You can also get these results yourself using this URL:[ENCODED FEED URL HERE]?n=9999

Note that the feed URL needs to be encoded; you can do that using this tool. Also, you can tweak the number at the end if you want less data, but I'm not sure if 10,000 is the upper limit.

You can find the feed URL for any site you're subscribed to in Reader by going to its feed, clicking the "Feed Settings..." button up top, choosing "View details and statistics", then copying the blue Feed URL shown in the window.

This is an invaluable tool for any site you'd like to save -- personal blogs, long-dead websites, ones with rejiggered content schemes, paywalls, or contents that are difficult to Google Bing.* Two that may be of interest to Mefites: a rolling, daily list of the most popular posts and comments across the site, going back years.

Lastly, if you'd like to aid Mefi's Own jscott's Archive Team in their ongoing effort to discover and back up as many Reader feed contents as possible, you can join them on their project page!

posted by Rhaomi to MetaFilter-Related at 12:11 PM (3 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite

I love you for this! Thank you!!!
posted by SuperSquirrel at 12:23 PM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:30 PM on June 17, 2013

Heya, this honestly feels more like something to nudge a little into being a post on the blue than something that's got a real clear reason for being on Metatalk. Maybe revisit it and go that route?
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:47 PM on June 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

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