Tag Archives: bit.ly

Long day’s journey into bitly

…with apologies to Eugene O’Neill.

For the past two years, I have checked in from time to time with bitly and added to my posts about what I found. What started as an amusing projection — how could the URL-shortening service evolve as they began to run low on 6-character hash strings? — turned somber, morbid, even sepulchral. Most recently, I wrote in The bitly dea(r)th watch that, because of Twitter’s DIY shortener, t.co,

…it was [now] less a matter of when bitly would run out of unique hash strings and much more a matter of when the world might run out of bitly. Would the dearth become a death, not to put too fine a point on it?

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The bitly dea(r)th watch

This is my fifth post about bitly (bit.ly, bitly.com), the URL-shortening service, in the past 18 months. The first three, written in early July 2010, were focused on two simple questions: (1) how large was bitly’s pool of unique hash-string URLs; and (2) at the then-projected rate of growth, when would that pool be exhausted? Or, more to the point, what could they do to avoid running out? The respective answers were 62^6 = 56,800,235,584 (see Part I); and roughly the year 2030 (see Part II).

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Maybe not “Soooo big!” But still counting on bitly

[This was originally posted on August 13, 2011, but had to be “reconstructed” following the crash of a MySQL server at my Web hosting service.]

About this time last summer, I wrote three back-to-back posts about the URL-shortening service bit.ly, now routinely re-directed — how ironic! — to bitly.com and self-referenced as simply “bitly.” The posts were entitled “Soooo big!” Counting on bit.ly and were focused on estimating when bitly might run out of unique URLs:

‚óŹ Part I calculated that the available 62 characters (26 upper- and 26 lower-case letters, plus 10 digits), taken six-at-a-time with repetition allowed, yielded a pool of 62^6 = 56,800,235,584 unique hash strings available for assignment in URLs.

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“Soooo big!” Counting on bit.ly, Part III

In the two previous posts on this topic, I calculated that, all other things being equal, the pool of 62^6 = 56,800,235,584 six-character strings from which bit.ly is currently assigning shortened URLs has a projected “exhaustion date” somewhere around the year 2030.

This inexact prediction is more than an idle curiosity because of the nascent effort of 301Works, under the aegis of the Internet Archive, to preserve re-directs even if, especially if, a URL-shortener goes belly-up or merely stops supporting already-issued links. More than 20 companies have joined 301Works, and bit.ly made this commitment on its corporate blog last November:

Bit.ly has already begun putting its short-to-long URL mappings in escrow with IA, which will run the 301works.org Working Group.

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