I was going to post tonight's inquiry to the local tech support thread but noticed we don't seem to have one yet. I figured I may as well create one, (mods - feel free to relocate it as you see fit), and I'll pose my current challenge for some community input.

I came up with an intriguing project with which to occupy myself of late, and as I'm suffering serious dark thoughts it would be good for me to set myself to a task which will engage my overactive mind. I'm just not entirely sure how to approach it safely, as I'll describe below.

First are foremost, I am a Linux user and try to abstain from most locally-operated closed-source software applications where possible. So this will be a strictly open-source inquiry. (The exception for this exercise is that I'm using Chrome rather than Chromium - but I may migrate to the open-source alternative shortly.)

So about a decade ago, I created a network of browser shortcuts into an organized folder structure for all of my favorite websites. This was in the era before social media sites like Facebook replaced 90% of non-bot-oriented web traffic.

Examples of folder labels include:

- Listen (organizing field recording and generative synthesis ambient libraries)
- Converse (for forums like Steve Hoffman's audiophile community)
- Discover (for news feeds and deep-dive informational resources like web-hosted encyclopedias and ubuweb)
- Consume (with nested subfolders for used books, original pressing vinyl, etc)
- Ambient Music (a library of tutorial links for getting started with open-source music creation tools)
- Intellectual Amusement (for Google Scholar, TVTropes, and other cultural studies libraries)
- B-Movies (for MST3K-related fan-constructed content like annotated episode transcripts)
- Underworld (for every major official and unofficial resource for material relating to my favorite electronic duo)
- and Music Blogs (a massive folder of hundreds of ambient and experimental independent music news sources)

Now to the problem at hand. Tragically, the majority of the sites archived in my bookmarks have long-since shut down in the years since I painstakingly crafted and organized the links. I'm thinking of performing an audit - visiting each URL, and creating an updated bookmark system for the surviving sites.

But I am wary about malicious URL redirects from persons who purchased the abandoned or expired domains and replaced them with phishing links or similar malware.

I have an idea of the safest way to approach this errand. I have a secure sandboxed browser I use for cookie-less surfing which I usually use when I want to check Amazon for a product without being inundated with sponsored ads for the item for weeks on end. It's a Firefox default installation without any custom user configurations other than disabled history and cookies to aid in rendering it anonymous, which I use in tandem with a VPN to protect my local IP. But to avoid browser fingerprinting, I haven't customized or installed any pop-up blockers or similar browser add-ons.

Would that browser paired with a VPN be sufficient to test all those URLs? Or would you recommend that I go a step further and boot to a USB-bootable Live OS session, then securely transfer an export of the bookmarks to the default browser of the Live OS and export my revised tailored bookmarks to an HTML file?

I just want to make sure that I do this safely.

I'd love the community's thoughts! Thanks!

(I'm like this all the time.)

I found an answer myself.

https://www.cnet.com/tech/computing/how-to-check-if-a-web-site-is-safe/ reports that I can use a URL checker such as Google's. Just enter:

http://google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?site= followed by the site you want to check

I'll try that this weekend.

(I'm like this all the time.)

Sounds good, ISB 🙂 let us know if you discover anything potentially malicious.

10 years ago or so, I would bring a bootable Linux distro with me on vacations so I'd dare log into services from other unknown computer if need be. You've already suggested using a USB, so I'd just second that option if the Google checker wasn't usable.

For myself, I wouldn't actually worry much and would just check them in my usual browser.

Happiness is a warm manatee

Thanks. I had a few minutes to kill tonight so I plowed through several hundred of the blogs and got the entire project done in one shot. Most of the blogs hadn't been updated since around 2010, and about 40% of them opted not to renew their domain licenses when they expired.

Nothing particularly malicious was found, though there were some suspicious CAPTCHAs on sites that had clearly closed down. I was able to get through them all just by using an incognito browser with relative safety.

I prefixed all of the dead links with an "X." I didn't have the heart to delete the shortcuts and figured by my archival nature there is some value to preserving the links in  case I ever feel like plugging the URLs into The Internet Archive to revisit the deleted content. The Web is vastly different now than it was in those halcyon days of the wild west.

Thanks everyone. Maybe we can keep this thread alive for other tech-related inquires.

(I'm like this all the time.)

You found the solution. I was going to jump in with a few suggestions.

I was also going to add or suggest trying to use the wayback machine but I don't know if that would have been particularly helpful for what you were trying to achieve.

I was this cool the whole time.

Thanks, @DJChameleon! Yes - The Wayback Machine is precisely what I was referring to when I mentioned using The Internet Archive to revisit deleted content. It's a wonderful service! :)

(I'm like this all the time.)