Geocaching.com has long offered Pocket Queries for loading up your GPS with a large amount of geocache entries at once. Well, it didn’t take long for many cachers to cobble all their Pocket Queries together and keep them in an offline database, like GSAK. Offline databases are handy, as you can perform analysis, load up your GPS in a custom way, or go out caching even if geocaching.com is offline (for maintenance). There is a problem with GSAK databases though: Archived Caches.
When a geocache is archived, Groundspeak stops providing it in Pocket Queries, except your “My Finds” Pocket Query. From Groundspeak’s perspective, this makes perfect sense – an archived geocache is not something they want people seeking. Sometimes a cache is archived due to lack of maintenance or otherwise abandonment in the field … but other times it is due to a landowner request or more. If Groundspeak provided archived caches in Pocket Queries then we could potentially have conflict with these landowners who were told the information would no longer be available for cache hunters. Fine. But what about GSAK databases?
Traditionally, the way to handle archived caches in your offline database has been to filter caches that were not received in your last GPX download, or within the last x number of days (I’ve used 14 for that). If you don’t filter you could end up loading archived geocaches on your GPS and, well, you’ll find your self hunting for a cache that isn’t there or worse – dealing with that angry land owner. Even using the last GPX date / GPX in the last 14 days method leaves you open to a cache that has been archived in the last couple days.
Now that GSAK supports the Geocaching.com Live API, there’s a nice little trick we can use to clean up our archived caches: The refresh cache data function lets us mark the archived caches in our database without exposing us to new archived cache listings that aren’t already in our database.
First off, set up your filter. Remember you can update a maximum of 6,000 caches in one day so if your database is huge then you may need to break the task up. I started out by selecting all active and disabled caches that haven’t been updated in 14 days.
The screenshots above show my filter settings that I used. This returned 3,977 caches in Ontario for me. Since that was less than 6,000, I set GSAK to “refresh” this cache data. Since archiving a cache creates an “Archived” log, and changes the individual GPX information, this will grab the “Archived” status for every cache in the list that has been archived.
This requires GSAK 8, and you need to be a Geocaching.com premium member … if you have an offline GSAK database you’re most likely a premium member anyway since that’s the only way to get Pocket Queries.
In GSAK, go to the “Geocaching.com access” menu, and select “Refresh cache data….”
Once you have done that, a new dialog box will appear asking if you want this to update the current cache, or everything in your filter. If you have less than 6,000 caches in your filter pick “All in current filter”. If your filter was over 6,000 caches you may want to hit cancel instead and refine your filter first.
So, once you hit OK, it’s a good time to get a coffee, or perhaps lunch as your wait for the data to come in and GSAK to process it.
After a long wait, this process will come back and your caches are up to date. Since my filter excluded caches which haven’t been updated in the last 14 days, most of the caches in my filter disappeared. 8 caches were still in my filter, however as those caches had been retracted. A retracted cache is different from an archived cache as it has been un-published. These caches should be *deleted* from your database or manually marked as archived.
You can see in the summary screen above that 3,969 caches were updated – the archived ones are marked as archived in my database and the rest were brought up to date. The 8 retracted caches were not updated as they were never published, which explains the discrepancy between the 3,977 caches that were in my filter and the 3,969 caches that got updated. The retracted caches did spend a brief time as “published” which is how they got in my database to begin with.
So here you have it. Use the above process every couple weeks or so, or even before your next GPS load and you’ll never load another archived cache into your GPS from GSAK again.