How to download a website for offline browsing

Learn how to download a website, as an exact copy, or for offline browsing using NCollector Studio

The NCollector Studio home screen

Introduction

In this article we will explain in detail how to download a complete website to your local computer for offline browsing or as an exact copy of the target website.

First of all, make sure you have installed NCollector Studio 2.0, which supports both these scenarios and more.

Home Screen

When starting up the application, you will see the "Home" screen, giving you a selection of use case scenarios. In this article we will explain how to set up a project using the "Offline Browser" and "Mirror Website" wizards.

The offline browser wizard setting up a project to download a website

Wizard

Click the "Offline Browser Wizard" tile to start the wizard. First specify a name and a target folder for your project, then enter the url for the website you wish to download for offline browsing. You also have the option to add multiple website addresses, but for offline browser projects it often makes most sense to keep each website in a separate project. Keep the other settings as-is (we'll come back to these in later articles). Click "Next" to continue to the next step in the wizard.

The offline browser wizard link restrictions step

Link Restrictions Wizard Step

As we only want to download this specific website, make sure the "Url Restrictions" setting is set to "Domain Only". If you are downloading from a subdomain, this option is available as well. Even though this is set to domain only, embedded content like javascript and images are downloaded so that the pages can be rendered nicely offline. This setting is only used for links to other web pages. Now, we want to download the complete website, so make sure both the "Maximum Levels" and "Maximum Pages" settings are set to "Unrestricted" (drag sliders all the way to the left). For the remaining settings, the defaults will work best for most websites. You can hover over each setting to view a detailed description of how it works. You might want to consider turning off the "Remove javascript" setting depending on the website you are downloading.

Keyword Filters

The last step of the offline browser wizard is not needed in our case as we wish to download the complete website and not apply any filtering to the download process. However, you can use these settings if you would like to e.g. exclude certain links or exclude everything but certain links etc.

NCollector Studio downloading the complete website

Running the offline browser project

We're now ready to start the project, so click the "Finish" button, and sit back and relax while NCollector Studio downloads all parts of the website. It will give you some indication on how many links are excluded based on the filter you applied, the size of the downloaded files etc. When finished downloading, it will translate all the links so that the website can be opened from your hard drive or viewed directly in NCollector Studio.

The offline browser end report

Viewing the website offline

When the project completes, the application will move to the report view, allowing you to browse the downloaded website from inside NCollector Studio, or in your default browser by clicking the right arrow next to the address field. You can also view all images downloaded from the website in the image gallery by clicking the "Images" tab.

Mirroring a website

If you would like to download a website and keep the markup exactly as it exists on the online website, you can use the "Mirror Website" mode. The settings you use are pretty much the same as for an offline browser project. The only exception is that the downloaded files will not be modified in any way be the spider engine.

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