Xenu's Link Sleuth

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File:Xenu screenshot.png
Screenshot of Tilman Hausherr's Xenu's Link Sleuth

Xenu, or Xenu's Link Sleuth, is a computer program that checks websites for broken hyperlinks.[1] It is written by Tilman Hausherr and is proprietary software available at no charge. The program is named after Xenu, the Galactic Ruler from Scientology scripture.



Link Sleuth runs on Microsoft Windows. Link verification is performed on links which appear in <a> tags, as well as images, frames, plug-ins, backgrounds, local image maps, style sheets, scripts and Java applets.[2] The program follows links to other pages, and checks the links on those pages also, so it is possible to check an entire site for broken links in one session. Xenu displays a continuously updated list of URLs which can be sorted according to different criteria.[3] The program utilizes a "simple, no-frills user-interface",[4] and can help users understand how certain Web sites are structured.[5] The program has support for SSL Web sites.[6]

When Link Sleuth attempts to follow links to Wikipedia it displays Wikipedia's "403 Forbidden" response to Xenu's ID of itself "User-Agent: Xenu Link Sleuth 1.2j". It's possible Wikipedia blocks Xenu because of loading issues.[7]


Xenu's Link Sleuth software was called the "fastest link-checking software" by PC Magazine,[8] and "amazingly fast, very accurate" by a University of Wyoming newsletter.[9] The software was used as a testing tool in a usability study at Grand Valley State University.[10]

Xenu's Link Sleuth has also been cited by Rossett's The ASTD E-Learning Handbook,[11] Zhong's Intelligent Technologies for Information Analysis,[12] Gerrard's Risk-Based E-Business Testing,[13] Reynolds' The Complete E-Commerce Book,[14] Slocombe's Max Hits: Websites that Work,[15] George's The ABC of SEO,[16] as well as the German books Homepage- Erfolg,[17] and Einführung in XHTML CSS und Webdesign,[18] and Italian books, Plasmare il web,[19] and Il check-up dei siti Web.[20]


  1. "Looking for link validator.", New Straits Times, May 1, 2000.
  2. Haby, Steven., Xenu's Link Sleuth - A Useful Software Package to Find Broken URL Links, Connections, Issue 43., 2002., retrieved 3/7/07.
  3. Gunther, D., Recommendation on Quality Assurance and Selection of resources for the ETB network, European Treasury Browser, P. 48., 2002, retrieved 3/7/07.
  4. McCoy, Linda., Link Sleuth, Deccan Herald, August 24, 2005.
  5. Mruck, Katja., Qualitative Research Networking: FQS as an Example, Qualitative Social Research, Volume 1, No. 3, December 2000.
  6. Mickiewicz, Matt., Download of the Week, SitePoint Tribune, Issue 279., SitePoint, February 5, 2004.
  7. Boutell, Thomas. "Innnards: XENU linkchecker software: why does it hate Wikipedia?". http://www.boutell.com/innards/xenuandwikipedia.html. 
  8. "70 assists for a winning site.(WEB BUILDER'S TOOLKIT)", PC Magazine, April 23, 2002.
  9. Visual Communications eNews, University of Wyoming, June 2005., retrieved 3/7/07.
  10. Grissom, Scott., The Trials and Tribulations of Usability Testing, Grand Valley State University, October 8, 2003.
  11. Rossett, Allison (2002). The ASTD E-Learning Handbook. McGraw-Hill Professional. pp. 500. ISBN 007138796X. 
  12. Zhong, Ning; Jiming Liu (2004). Intelligent Technologies for Information Analysis. Springer. pp. 200. ISBN 3540406778. 
  13. Gerrard, Paul (2002). Risk-Based E-Business Testing. Artech House. pp. 155. ISBN 1580533140. 
  14. Reynolds, Janice (2004). The Complete E-Commerce Book: Design, Build, and Maintain a Successful Web-Based Business. CMP Books. pp. 189. ISBN 1578203120. 
  15. Slocombe, Mike (2002). Max Hits: Websites that Work. Rotovision. pp. 121. ISBN 2880465435. 
  16. George, David (2005). The ABC of Seo: search engine optimization strategies. ISBN 1411622510. 
  17. Rüttinger, Stefan (2003). Homepage- Erfolg: Wie Sie im Internet mehr Geld verdienen. Books on Demand. pp. 140. ISBN 3833006439. 
  18. Jendryschik, Michael. Einführung in XHTML CSS und Webdesign. Pearson Education Deutschland. pp. 250. ISBN 3827324777. 
  19. Polillo, Roberto (2006). Plasmare il web. Apogeo Editore. pp. 186. ISBN 8850325118. 
  20. Polillo, Roberto (2004). Il check-up dei siti Web. Apogeo Editore. pp. 170. ISBN 8850322828. 

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