The integrity of uniform resource locator (URL) references within web sites are maintained when changes occur in the locations where resources referenced by URLs are stored. A Referential Preservation Engine (RPE) maintains a database in which the location of web site documents and reference information are stored and updates various URL hyperlink references contained in the web pages on the site so that users can locate documents that have been moved to new storage locations. The RPE can also update links to external web sites by communicating with an RPE running on each external site. The RPE on the external site keeps track of the movement of linked documents on the sites and passes information pertaining to the new location of the linked documents to the local site, whereupon the links on the local web site pages are updated to reflect the new storage locations. The RPE also can track usage of a user's favorite sites and/or documents that are stored in an Internet browser and update the URL references for these favorites when the resources they are mapped to are moved (or renamed).