Link Checking Software Review: Web Link Validator

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

Web Link Validator (WLV) has a number of features that I really like:

  1. It's fast
    It only takes a few minutes to check 1000+ links.
  2. It's easy to customize
    There are plenty of settings to play with in order to check exactly what you want.
  3. 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.
  4. It has good reporting
    It can provide comprehensive, customizable reports which you can even have emailed to you.
  5. 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.

Free Version

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?!

Other Alternatives?

I'm not too up on other link checking tools - are there any others that you'd recommend, free or otherwise?

Posted on: March 3, 2006 | 3 Comments

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3 Comments Posted

I use Powermapper by Electrum and have done for years - http://www.powermapper.com/

Thanks for the suggestion, although this tool looks primarily designed for creating site maps. Does it do a good job of checking links too?

Yeah, it does look like that however I have used it for 6 years as a LinK Checker and not used a Site Map once :-)

You can try DRKSpider.
It's also OpenSource!!! :D

Let me know if it's fast enough.

There's also the W3C's link checker:

http://validator.w3.org/checklink

It's bare-bones, but it'll work in a pinch.

Adam - good tip; I forgot about that one. However, it is pretty slow and doesn't check external links, so I'd only recommend it for smaller sites.

Good enough in a pinch though!

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