What is a TinyURL™?

G. Wiesen

A TinyURL™ is a link to a website that utilizes a universal resource locator (URL) shortening service to make the URL shorter while still connecting to the intended website. These types of URLs are often used for message posting services such as various forms of social networking that may only allow a few characters per post. They are also common on forums and similar Internet websites where people want to easily link to various other web pages. By using a TinyURL™ service, a lengthy URL can be significantly shortened, making it easier to remember, write down, post on another website and otherwise utilize.

TinyURLs are used by message posting services.
TinyURLs are used by message posting services.

The original TinyURL™ website was established in 2002 as a way for people to link to websites, such as news networks and forums, without having to type lengthy URLs. A URL is the web address used by most users to navigate the Internet and find the website they are looking for. URLs typically take the form of a web address, such as http://www.wisegeek.com, which establishes a textual address people can remember that is converted to an Internet protocol (IP) address by computer networks to actually direct a user to the proper website. One major problem with the use of URLs, however, is that they can become quite lengthy and difficult to remember, write down, or post to other pages.

URL shortening services are often used in social networking.
URL shortening services are often used in social networking.

A TinyURL™ is a web address that has been significantly shortened to allow someone to access the website without having to type the entire address. It basically functions by creating a secondary link, usually using something like http://www.tinyurl.com followed by a specific identifier for the intended web page. When someone types in the TinyURL™ link, it will quickly redirect the user’s web browser to the page with the full URL. This type of service is especially useful for some news groups and similar types of websites that can have extremely long URLs when referring to a specific article or page on the site.

One of the major potential downsides of using TinyURLs™ is that it does require an additional process to get a user to the desired website. There is already some potential for failure in the basic use of URLs since a network system has to process that URL and change it to the desired IP address that the network can actually recognize. By adding an additional step, the change from a TinyURL™ to the real URL, there is another opportunity for the system to not work properly. If the TinyURL™ service goes down, then none of the links will work. There is also a potential security issue of someone accessing the TinyURL™ system and rerouting addresses improperly.

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