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URL shorteners slow Web redirection

URL shortening services are slowing down URL redirection with only a few optimized for international use, reveals new report by Web monitor firm.

Web redirection through universal resource locator (URL) shorteners is adding extra seconds to page load time and only a few have optimized their domain name servers (DNS) for international users, according to Web site monitoring firm.

In a Wednesday blog post, Netherlands-based WatchMouse reported findings from its one-month monitoring of 14 most popular URL shorteners. The firm noted that for a URL redirection to add over half a second to page load time is "really way too much" and will "substantially" affect user experience.

Facebook's fb.me was found to be the slowest, adding over 2 seconds on average to page load time. Even the best-performing URL shortener, Google's goo.gl, added an average of 0.36 second to page load time, with YouTube's youtu.be next in line with 0.42 second.

The firm also found that only a few of the URL shorteners have been optimized for international use. This means that while URL redirection may be fast for a visitor in the United States, users in Asia may have to wait a while more to reach the page.

Uptime-wise, only goo.gl and Twitter's twt.tl scored 100 percent in average uptime availability. Snipurl's snurl.com ranked the lowest in uptime with slightly over 98.1 percent.

The monitoring took place from mid-February to mid-March. WatchMouse monitored the uptime and performance by checking the URL shorteners every 5 minutes from its 44 global monitoring stations. It measured the redirections and not the actual loading of the pages.

WatchMouse noted that redirection was expected to be completed within 8 seconds without error. If the redirection time was exceeded or a second error established, the firm would verify the results from another monitoring station before counting the result as poor availability or unavailability.

Web sites using shortened URLs also face the danger of losing the redirection if the URL shortener goes down. Organizations such as Archive Team and Internet Archive both have projects that save the shortened as well as original links, so links can be redirected even if the URL shorteners shut down.