Finding the Original Link to a Shortlink or Tinyurl

Shortlinks are a rage nowadays but as much as they are convenient to use for sharing content, they can also lead you to websites that you do not want to visit. Links to potentially dangerous websites can be hidden in a shortlink and there is no way for a user to find the original link unless he/she visits the linked site.

Finding the Original Destination of a Shortlink

If the shortlink is not from a party you trust, it is always best to check where the link is directed to. This can be achieved using a tool known as the 'Server header checker'. A 'Server Header Checker' allows you to inspect the HTTP headers a web server returns when requesting a URL. In this case, the tool will help you view where the shortlink redirects to.

There are many free tools that can help you check the 'HTTP Headers' but here are the two that I generally use and recommend:

Working Example

So let's look at an example. Let's say you want to find the destination link of the following shortlink:

Here are the steps that you need to follow:

Step 1: Open the server header checker application in your browser. You can do that by clicking on the following link:

Step2: Paste the URL of the shortlink in the space provided and click 'submit' as shown in the image below:


Step3: Once you click submit the tool should return the following data:

HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently =>
Server => nginx
Date => Sat, 28 Feb 2015 16:20:39 GMT
Content-Type => text/html; charset=utf-8
Content-Length => 110
Connection => close
Cache-Control => private, max-age=90
Location =>
Mime-Version => 1.0

The original link to the shortlink is indicated by the 'Location' field in the returned data. So in our example, the location of the shortlink was:

This is how simple it is to find the full Link of a Shortlink or ShortURL. If you have any questions, feel free to leave it in the comments section below and I would be happy to answer them.


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