Shorty – Your own TinyURL generator

Khoi Vinh recently announced an awesome utility for anyone who frequently passes long URLs out to contacts. The service, known as Shorty, is a self-hosted alternative to URL shortening services like TinyURL or URL123. Shorty is self hosted. This means that any long URLs you pass through the utility will be prefixed with your own domain.

The critical difference between Shorty and TinyURL is that Shorty resides on your server. You install it (all you need is a MySQL database and PHP) and you then have the power of TinyURL and its ilk, but rather than being tied to a third party, it’s a part of your brand.

shorty screenshot

Seeing as though Shorty – a self hosted solution – was too enticing to pass-up, I quickly downloaded the latest public beta release for comparison. The installation was a breeze:

  • Create or utilize an existing database (recommend that you create a new one). Dreamhost users, log into the DH Panel, navigate to Goodies > Manage MySQL > Create a new MySQL database. Edit the configuration.php file within the distribution.
  • Upload the ‘shorty’ directory to your web server.
  • Run the included installer
  • When prompted, enter your desired user account details.
  • For those that receive an error reporting a missing .htaccess file, Reed has noted a small tip for adding the required rewrite rules.
  • As directed, remove the _install.php file from the directory for security reasons.

Once you’ve logged into your local installation of Shorty, you’ll be presented with three tabs: Auto, Keywords, and Random. Each of these tabs facilitates the process of shortening long URLs into shorter, more manageable alternatives.

  • Auto – Specify the URL to be shortened, add a keyword to the URL structure, and select ‘Get Shorty’ to receive a shortened URL with the specified keyword. You can opt to elect that Auto be the preferred Shorty method for shortening URLs.
  • Keywords – Enter multiple keywords to be included for shortened URLs. Again, users may opt to elect ‘Keywords’ as the preferred URL shortening method.
  • Random – The plain vanilla method of shortening URLs. Simple paste the URL to be shortened and receive a ‘Shorty’ version. Probably the best choice for those in search of a local version of TinyURL or the like.

In addition to offering users with a means in which to create clean, short, and concise links, Shorty offers a make-shift solution for tracking link usage. Users who have Shorty installed locally can check out the ‘Admin’ panel which offers a running list of Shorty converted URLs complete with livesearch to find specific links.

short link tracking admin panel

Despite being a beta release, Shorty is rock solid. Gone are the days of relying on third-party URL shortening services. Hello Shorty, where have you been all this time? Download your own copy of Shorty and continue increasing the exposure of your own domain while passing out URLs. I am certain that third-party URL shortening service will cease to profit or exist thank to Shorty.

Informative read? Consider a healthy digg to spread the word concerning this fantastic self-hosted URL shortening solution.

Discuss - 43 Comments

  1. Derek says:

    I actually stopped using it once someone pointed out a vulnerability some time ago. I’m sure it has been patched. I’ve been using urlTea quite a bit lately.

  2. @derek: Are you still constantly using Shorty? If so, how’s it going? Improvements, new pros/cons, etc…

  3. I see. I’ll check it out. Thanks.

  4. Jangla says:

    I’ve been considering using this as using TinyURL causes you to bleed page rank. But can someone confirm for me that this will result in a proper 301 redirect so there’s no loss of page rank?

  5. Jangla says:

    OK, I’ve installed it – only trouble is, go to the login screen and there’s no way of logging in!!!

    Anyone able to help? I’ve tried posting on the shorty web site but despite regstering, there’s no option to make a new post.

  6. If you like TinyURL, you might also want to check out

    TraceURL shortens any URL plus it tracks traffic to the page through the TraceURL shortened web site address, showing where the traffic originated. Count accesses and have the origin of the visitor displayed on a Google Map.

  7. […] Many people use TinyURL to shorten long URLs for sending in emails or posting online. I recently discovered Shorty, which provides a tinyURL-like service on your own domain. So, you could have URLs like redirect to any URL on the web. It’s fairly easy to set up and you can even track how many times each of your short URLs has been used. Instructions for setting up Shorty are available here. […]

  8. […] gives a great run down of how to install the tool, and the wonderful MakeUseOf blog have an in depth review of the app […]

  9. VickyNZ says:

    Can you go into detail about what exactly that security vulnerability was? I’ve just heard about Shorty but don’t want to use it if it’ll compromise my site, and googling about it doesn’t bring anything up. Thanks,

  10. David says:

    Hallo, Yahoo does not allow me to upload the .htaccess file! Any alternatives? Thanks, David

  11. David says:

    Hallo! Yeah, anything with a .whatever in front of it is not allowed at Yahoo, at least in my account. I am running Pommo with no problems but this shorty thing would be great for me, too. I will contact the Help folks to see if they can set it up for me somehow – otherwise am out in the cold…

  12. […] decided to try Shorty, it is easy to install. You can read more about that at Shorty, a self-hosted alternative to URL shortening services. Using it is also very simple, it works like the public solutions but has the advantage of being on […]

  13. […] I decided to try Shorty, it is easy to install. You can read more about that at Shorty, a self-hosted alternative to URL shortening services. […]

  14. Dan Gwozdz says:

    Jangla (and others):

    I ran into the same problem – login screen wasn’t appearing. It seems to be intermittent, and is being caused by the “news” function in functions.php – if you comment out the lines within the function (and leave the declaration and curlies) it should fix it. At least, it did for me.

    I presume this has something to do with the get-shorty site not answering the requests by the function for news to fill in under the login box, and the script is stopping there as a result. 😛

  15. Scott Allen says:

    I installed Shorty, and it all seemed to be working properly, except the new links give me an error 404. .htaccess file is in my directory with the shorty files. Dbase was set up. Installer said I was installed. But still each time I try it 404. Any ideas what I missed?

  16. Steve Iman says:

    The links above are to quite old postings. I ran across a more 2009-like version of discussion at Best of luck!

  17. Larry says:

    Hi! Just wanted to try Shorty on my domain but everytime I try installing it with shorty installer, it says “Could not establish a connection to the database. Check configuration.php for the correct values!” Shorty wasn’t installed… Could you please let me know what exactly a server name looks like and a database name looks like? I think these are the sticky ones I try playing/changing numerous times without success. thanks!

  18. rick says:

    a easy and very simple url short generator