University at Buffalo - The State University of New York
Skip to Content
UB Web Management

Transforming UB’s digital communications through process and tools

Link Maintenance

Proactive link maintenance is an important part of stewardship and helps ensure that visitors will not encounter broken links when they go to your site.

We all know the Web is extremely dynamic, with content constantly being created, relocated and removed. As old pages go away, links to them will break, and when someone clicks that link, they will often see the following message: "Error: 404 - page not found." This process, known as "link rot," has been studied—as many as one in every 200 links will go 'bad' every week (more details).

How Does the UBCMS Handle Bad Links?

The UBCMS actively manages its internal links, and whenever possible keeps them current. So when an author moves or deletes a page, the UBCMS will attempt to update the links on all linked pages. But there are several common situations where this auto-correction will be unsuccessful:

  • If the author who moves or deletes the page does not have publisher permissions for your site, the link on your page will NOT be updated. And if they do not have any publisher permissions, no pages will be updated.
  • If the link is buried within the text of a component (e.g. Body Text), it will not be updated.
  • If the link is buried in a Fixed List, it will not be updated. (The link will remain in the list component in author, but will disappear from the published version.)

Example of a Bad External Link

Here's a link to a page that no longer exists on another Web server (link).

  • The link remains clearly visible and a link checker or a careful check of the page's links will reveal the problem.

Example of a Bad Link Within the UBCMS

A bad UBCMS link as it appears in the authoring environment.

Here's a link to a page that has been deleted from the UBCMS

  • Because the UBCMS knows the link is invalid:
    • in the author environment, the link is shown in red brackets and preceded by a chain icon.
    • in the page's published view, the original link text is displayed as normal words and the hyperlink is disabled.
  • This means that your site visitors will be protected from clicking on a bad link, but a link check will NOT reveal any problems. You will need to also look at your page in author mode to catch any link rot.

How Can I Keep My Links Current?

We encourage you to assign someone to check the links in your pages on a regular basis. For example, University Communications monitors the links on its main pages on a monthly basis, and we make proactive system-wide updates whenever we learn an important page or site has been moved.

Link Checker Tools

Currently the UBCMS does not have an internal link checker, but there are popular third-party solutions. We recommend the following free tools:

Link Checker Software

Xenu Link Sleuth is a popular and free tool. You will need to install it on your workstation. > Download Xenu

 

When you run Xenu, be sure to click More options and reduce the Maximum depth from the default setting of 999 pages (1-3 pages is often sufficient). Then use Ctrl-B to just show broken links.

Pinger Extension for Firefox

A free add-ons for Firefox, Pinger is a tool that allows you to check all the links on a displayed page. You will need to install it on your workstation while running Firefox. > Install Pinger

Was this page helpful?

(Required)
(Required)
(so we can thank you or request more details)
(Required)
(buffalo.edu addresses only please)