FEATURE: A look at URL shrinking

Many people were probably first introduced to the world of URL shrinking by sites such as Twitter.  Speaking of which Twitter uses TinyURL for its shrinking needs, although there are other services available and here are a few of them with their pro’s and cons.

For this review I have used the URL:

https://openbytes.wordpress.com/2009/08/03/a-long-time-ago-in-a-terminal-far-far-way-star-wars-ascii-style/

which is 106 characters in length and will serve as a good example of how much these services shrink your URL, but also as a comparison between the services listed here.

TinyURL http://tinyurl.com/

One of the most well known services around.  A very simple interface which will take seconds to get a result from.   It also gives you the feature to attach an alias to your URL.

RESULT:  25 characters – http://tinyurl.com/njxgqp

Shrinkify http://shrinkify.com/

A service that offers an addon for Firefox, a dashboard widget for MAC OS X and a gadget for IGoogle.  A very simple, bright and clean interface that offers you a result as either a shrinkify.com/…. or for the real byte saving enthusiasts a s7y.us/…  for the purposes of comparison we will be taking the shortest one.

RESULT:  18 characters – http://s7y.us/135m

OSMUrl.us http://osmurl.us/

A site that has a very basic (and quick loading) main page.  To obtain your URL without using CAPTCHA you must register.  This is free however and can be done quickly.   As a member you can get various stats on your links.

RESULT: 16 characters – http://h.nl.am/_

Cligs http://cli.gs/

Offers analytics on your shortened URL, but for the “average user” it gives you the facility to Tweet it from its control panel or post to Identi.ca automatically.

RESULT: 20 characters – http://cli.gs/sm3b23

Now time to reverse that URL and find out where it really wants to take you.  Longurl.org is a useful service that will give you peace of mind.
Now time to reverse that URL and find out where it really wants to take you. Longurl.org is a useful service that will give you peace of mind.

Conclusion

All the URL services Ive tried have been great.  TinyURL is habit for me, however I will certainly be looking at alternatives now.  OSMUrl.us certainly has the smallest size (at present) but I didn’t like the CAPTCHA authorisation that was required for non-members.

TinyURL was the largest here (although that is probably a testament to its popularity) however it is something very familiar and thus for me a fast way to get my shortened URL.   Shrinkify offered a respectable size of URL and I particularly liked the simple and clean interface, whilst Cligs (still short at 20 chars) offered some nice features on the completed URL.

If I can break the habit of TinyURL, I will probably go with Shrinkify.  OSMURL.us would have got my vote if it had not been for the CAPTCHA feature (and I am loathed to sign my email up to another service)

So for ease of use with a short result, Shrinkify gets the prize!

Finally if you are unsure of where a shrunk URL will take you, help is at hand with LongURL which will expand a shortened URL, giving you details of redirects and the actual site you will visit.  It is used as a browser app or can be installed as a Firefox extension or Greasemonkey script.

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com

One Comment Add yours

  1. shor7.com says:

    great article, thanks for sharing.

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