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Xenu link sleuth

xenu link sleuth, or simply xenu,

is a computer program that checks web pages for hyperlinks that contain errors. xenu link sleuth was written by Tilman Hausherr. It is a proprietary software that is available free of charge.
The program is named after Xenu, the galactic ruler from the Scientology scripture.

Format of Xenu link sleuth

Xenu link sleuth runs on Microsoft Windows. Hyperlink checking is performed for those links that are displayed in -tags, as well as for images, frames, plug-ins, local imagemaps, backgrounds, stylesheets, scripts, and Java applets. The program follows links to other web pages and also checks the links on those pages, so it is possible to check an entire page for broken hyperlinks in one session. Xenu displays a constantly updated list of URLs that can be sorted by various criteria.

The program uses a very simple user interface and in this way can help users understand the structure of certain web pages. The program supports SSL web pages


Advantages of Xenu Link Sleuth

  • Free of charge
  • Simple user interface
  • Better error reporting
  • Save function even if the software is damaged
  • View shows broken links only
  • Function for rechecking broken links
  • The program requires little memory, even executable files are very small
  • Problem-free report display even with very long URLs
  • Very fast loading of saved files
  • Supports SSL web pages
  • Partial testing of FTP and Gropher pages possible
  • Search for stand alone files
  • Special handling of redirected URLs
  • Page directory
  • Randomization of test order (= less concurrent requests on a single server)

Tip: Configuration with Proxy

A proxy can be configured in the control application of Windows. To do this, double-click on the “Internet” icon and then on the “Map” of the dialog box named“Connection“. A proxy may be needed when working behind a firewall. This is common in large corporate networks.

Maximum checking of web pages

There is no maximum number of web pages. The maximum is only limited by the memory of the computer used.

Speed of Xenu Link Sleuth

The computer program works at a high speed because it uses a technique known as preemptive multithreading. This means that the link checking software retrieves multiple web pages at the same time. An initial number of these threads is initially set to 30. Changing this to any number between 1 and 100 is possible at any time by configuration. However, too high a number may result in failed connections or timeouts. This would result in the broken links having to be rechecked.

Tips for repairing broken links

Repairing broken links (i.e. getting the right links) is regrettably a difficult and time-consuming task. A few tips:

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  • If the email address of the website owner is known, you can write to them. Even if the website no longer exists, the email address may still be valid.
  • Check the home page to which you have linked to see if this page may show a notice of a website move.
  • Using search engines to find the website or website owner’s name.
  • Posting a message in a newsgroup that deals with the issue. If necessary, the website owner or one of his friends reads this message.


Cookies are disabled by default, and in addition, Xenu Link Sleuth rejects all cookies. However, if cookies are needed because

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  • a user authenticates with Internet Explorer before starting a run, or
  • to prevent the server from serving URLs with new session IDs,
    these can be enabled in the Advanced Options dialog box.

Important note: This option should not be used if there are links that delete data – risk of data loss.

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