Tag Archives: URL shortener

Ducking out on bitly

When I wrote my first three posts on bitly (as “bit.ly”) nearly five years ago, they offered a serious-yet-humorous attempt to answer a simple question: Given that bitly’s shortened URLs were only 6-character strings and given the effort by 301Works (through the Internet Archive) to preserve those “mappings,” how long would it be before bitly ran out of strings? My assumption-dependent answer back then — roughly the year 2030 — is now as irrelevant as 301Works seems to be invisible, but you can find the third post here with backlinks to the first two: “Soooo big!” Counting on bit.ly, Part III.

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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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“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:

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

In Part I, I calculated that bit.ly is currently using a pool of 62^6 = 56,800,235,584 six-character strings that it can assign as re-directs, for example, to provide URL-shortening for tweets that are up against Twitter’s 140-character limit.

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