A broken link is a killer for any website and it should be eliminated at all cost. The bad thing is, it is easily said than done. If you are running a website with more than a thousand articles and every post contains at least 3 links, how are you able to find out which particular link is no longer working?
There are plenty of solutions for this. If you are using WordPress, you can install the broken link checker plugin and get it to scan all your posts for broken links. The drawback for this? It sucks your CPU power like there is no tomorrow. Even if you are using a dedicated server, this is not the best way to utilize your CPU resources.
The next solution is to use online tool, like the W3C link checker to scan your site for broken link. The problems with these tools are the free one don’t come with plenty of options and the good one are costly.
The last solution, which I am using for this article, is to install a desktop app and run the scan from your desktop.
LinkChecker is a free, GPL licensed website validator and it checks links in web documents or full websites directly from your desktop. It works in Windows, Mac and Linux.
To get it working in Linux (Ubuntu), go to the download page and download two deb packages: linkchecker_8.2-1_amd64.deb (or the i386 version if you are using a 32-bit machine) and linkchecker-gui_8.2-1_all.deb.
Note: The current version as of this post is 8.2-1. You should get the newer version if it is available.
Install both the .deb files (by double-clicking it) in your system.
Note: LinkChecker is also available in the Ubuntu repository, but it is not the latest version. If you don’t mind using an older version, you can install it using the command:
sudo apt-get install linkchecker linkchecker-gui
Run Link Checker. This is what you will see.
All you need to do is to enter your website URL and press the Start button. It will then proceed to do the scanning. If you have a big website with plenty of content and links, it could take up to a few hours to finish the scanning.
After it has completed the scanning, you will be able to see the result for each link, as well as the overview, such as how many valid URLs, invalid URLs, warnings etc. Clicking on each entry show you the information of the link such as the URL length, download time, file size, number of images etc. and the actual problems (if any) with the link.
In the Options settings, you can change the recursive depth of the scanning. A “-1” (default) value means it will scan the full site. You can also set a string or URL flag so it will show the warning or ignore the particular URL if it detects it.
You can also upload your browser bookmark file and get it to scan all the websites found in the bookmark.
Once it has finished scanning, you can save the result (in HTML format) to view it later.
While there are plenty of link checker tools out there, I personally prefer this python-based LinkChecker app over the others. Not only is it lightweight and cross-platform compatible, it also comes with the features I need. The best thing is, it is updated regularly and is free.
What tool do you use to check for broken link in your site?
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