Checking your site for broken links is a necessary but tiresome part of web site maintenance. For the longest time I’ve used Xenu’s Link Sleuth, mainly because it’s free but also because it works.
On the downside, Xenu is pretty user-unfriendly and is very limited in terms of customization.
Recently I came across Web Link Validator from Rel Software, which, to my mind, is a much better bet for anyone serious about keeping their web sites free of broken links.
Web Link Validator (WLV) has a number of features that I really like:
- It’s fast – It only takes a few minutes to check 1000+ links.
- It’s easy to customize – There are plenty of settings to play with in order to check exactly what you want.
- It’s easy to use – Once it’s checked your site, it’s easy to see where the broken links are so that you can fix them. It even tells you what the link text is so that you can find it quickly on the page.
- It has good reporting – It can provide comprehensive, customizable reports which you can even have emailed to you.
- It does a lot more than just check links
WLV also tells you a whole load about your site. For example, it will tell you what HTML tags you are using and how many of each. It provides a complete breakdown of all the file types on your site.
It can even FTP into your server and find all the old orphan files that are no longer being used.
The main downside of this excellent tool is the cost, which is from $95 to $795 per license depending on the number of copies you need.
However, if you manage a corporate web site, it’s well worth the investment in terms of time saved over cheaper, less usable tools.
Fortunately, if you can’t afford Web Link Validator, REL does provide a free alternative – REL Link Checker Lite. This tool is more on a par with Xenu, except that it has a more user-friendly interface.
It certainly doesn’t have anything like the capabilities of WLV and it only checks up to 1000 links at a time, but hey, what do you expect for free?!
I’m not too up on other link checking tools – are there any others that you’d recommend, free or otherwise?