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URL Shortening

Posted By: Thomas Shaw, 9:08pm Thursday 14 May 2009    Print Article

Popular URL shortening service was offline for a number of hours today. Millions of URL links were broken and users were redirected to a error page (image below). It begs the question - should you host/manage your own URL shortening service or rely on a 3rd party?

What happens if the URL shortening site goes out of business, or changes their URL format some day? It is not out of the realm of possibility that any of the major players in URL shortening could go the way of 1000's of other web companies and just disappear. Even if the service goes down for a short time, (like we have seen recently) the users who have clicked on the link get lost.

These URL shortening services are causing network congestion by adding an extra HTTP request to every URL that is processed by them. One by one these are not problems, but by the millions they can make a notable dent in networking throughput, strain on hardware, and eventually, increased costs of keeping networking hardware healthy.

What is URL shortening?

URL shortening services have been around for a number of years. It is a tool that will convert a long URL such as (54 characters) into a smaller URL (19 characters)

The shortened URLs can be easily shared and distributed in websites, forums, blogs, Instant Messengers, SMS and especially in social media service providers like Twitter, which allows users to post only 140 characters.

How else are you going to share links on Twitter without having the URL take up half the message?

TinyURL,, are some of the popular sites that offer URL shortening service. The shortened URL offers various advantages including easy management of links, promotion of sharing of site link, compile click data and a useful user interface.

Some URL shortening service providers offer valuable data like live click data, geographic location, webpage link from where the site link was clicked, and more. This data can be used to understand where your visitors are coming from and their interest.

A excellent blog post you should read is URL Shorteners: Which Shortening Service Should You Use?

List of URL shortening services

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Article Tags: tinyurl url shortening twitter url url redirection

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