Create URL shortener without database using PHP, demo & download simple PHP URL shortener script and tutorial with PHP example code.

How To Create URL Shortener

We need simple HTML Form, and shortener.php file for processing the request, and we need redirect.php file to redirect the user to a long link, the idea needs to databases, but we will use another way, instead of databases, we will use TXT files. Anyway we need .htaccess file to hide redirect.php file, and we need robots.txt file to hide our TXT database from search engine, our PHP script is safely and simple and works good.

Live Demo

URL Shortener Demo.

Download & Usage

Download PHP Script, unzip file, open “shortener.php” file, change website link “http://localhost/url-short-txt/” to your website link, upload script files to your hosting, enjoy.


In “index.php” file we have simple HTML Form and PHP Session:

    // By Qassim Hassan |

    $_SESSION['prevent_repeat'] = rand(); // Prevent a repeat of the process


<form method="post" action="shortener.php">
    <p>Enter a long link: <input type="text" name="my-link" value=""></p>
    <p><input type="submit" value="Shorten!"></p>

Why we use PHP SESSION? To prevent a repeat of the process! after the process is finished, if the user pressed a F5 button (to refresh the page), like this:

php session

Now if the user pressed a “Continue” button, will the process is repeated, will be a lot of files are stored (txt files) and this is a serious problem! with PHP Session we will fix the problem.


In “shortener.php” file we have shortener script (read comments):


    // By Qassim Hassan |


    if( !empty($_POST['my-link']) and isset($_SESSION['prevent_repeat']) ){

        $link = $_POST['my-link']; // link from input "my-link" in index.php form

        $id = substr( str_shuffle("ASDFGHJKLZXCVBNMQWERTYUIOP0123456789asdfghjklzxcvbnmqwertyuiop"), 0, 6 ); // create random ID (6 lenght), you can change 6 to your custom number

        $txt_path = "txt-db/"; // txt folder path, you can change it (if you changed it, open robots.txt file and change "txt-db" to your new folder name, robots.txt is file to protection your text database from search engine)

        if( file_exists($txt_path.$id.".txt") ){ // check if ID is taken
            while($id) { // start loop to create a new ID

                $id = substr( str_shuffle("ASDFGHJKLZXCVBNMQWERTYUIOP0123456789asdfghjklzxcvbnmqwertyuiop"), 0, 6 ); // create random ID again (6 lenght)

                if( file_exists($txt_path.$id.".txt") ){ // if ID is taken 
                    continue; // if ID is taken: back again to search for available ID
                    break; // if found available ID: loop will be finished!

            } // end loop

        $create_txt_file = file_put_contents($txt_path.$id.".txt", $link); // create a new txt file and add inside it the long link

        if( $create_txt_file ){
            $website = "http://localhost/url-short-txt/"; // enter your website link
            $short_link = $website.$id; // short link
            echo 'Your Short Link: <a href="'.$short_link.'" target="_blank">'.$short_link.'</a>';
            echo "We have some errors! Please try later.";

        unset($_SESSION['prevent_repeat']); // Prevent a repeat of the process


        header("location: index.php"); // if empty link or repeat process, will be redirect the user to index page


Don’t forget to change “http://localhost/url-short-txt/” to your website link.


In “redirect.php” file we will redirect the user to a long link, if short link is invalid or deleted will be redirect the user to index page:


    // By Qassim Hassan |

    if( isset($_GET['id']) ){

        $id = $_GET['id']; // short link ID

        if( file_exists("txt-db/$id.txt") ){ // check if the ID is has txt file in "txt-db" folder
            $get_long_link = file_get_contents("txt-db/$id.txt"); // get the long link from txt file
            header("location: $get_long_link"); // redirect the user to the long link!
            header("location: index.php"); // if invalid ID (invalid short link or deleted), will be redirect the user to index page


        header("location: index.php");



This “.htaccess” to convert short link from “” to “”:

Options +FollowSymLinks
RewriteEngine On

RewriteCond %{SCRIPT_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteCond %{SCRIPT_FILENAME} !-f

RewriteRule ^(\w+)$ ./redirect.php?id=$1


This file “robots.txt” to hide our TXT files from search engine:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /txt-db/

Finally, TXT Files will be stored in “txt-db” folder, and in “txt-db” you will find “index.php” file, this file to hide our TXT files from the users.