Things I've Learned Hosting a URL Shortener Service

Jason Thai

TinyAlias

TinyAlias is no longer in service but I am still hosting it on Heroku so you can try out its functionality.

Access the heroku app here: https://tinyalias.herokuapp.com (It may take sometimes to wake up since this service is now hosted for free).

You can also view the source code here: https://github.com/zirius/tinyalias

After hosting my own custom url shortener service TinyAlias for about 6 months, I learned a few things:

There are many available services on the internet. Some provide more functionalities than the others.
Most people use the service for spam and phishing purposes - Same link is shortened multiple times.
Determining if links are safe is hard - Most services are not able to provide such information.
Links are mostly distributed through emails - Most links are images embedded in emails.
A lot of users are robos - They can be configured to use the service in a programmatical way.
Links are auto rejected by various websites - They all have mechanisms to block the shortened links on their sites.

That said, a lot of companies use shortened links with their own vanity domains which feature thair brands to promote their service and that is a good use case for the service. Also it is great to send someone a short link rather than a very long one, which is the main purpose of these services.