Finding Broken Links Using Acunetix WVS

Acunetix WVS has the ability to discover links to pages that do not exist. In a world where sites are updated on a daily basis, it is quite easy to remove a page and forget to amend all links which refer to it resulting in what are known as broken links. Besides being deemed as unprofessional to internet users, broken links also have a negative effect on your search engine rankings.

When scanning a site, Acunetix WVS informs you of any broken links it detects during the scan. The following is a screen shot showing the broken links detected on our test site.

Broken Links list

Broken Links list

These dead links need to be remedied as quickly as possible. To understand how Acunetix found these links, we need to take a look at the "Site Structure". Taking the webpage called “/anotherlink” as an example, we can see Acunetix has marked it as “Not Found” in the Site Structure.

File Not Found

File not found shown in site structure

If you select the offending file in the Site Structure, the details window (on the right) will show more information on the specific file. Select the Referrers tab (from the bottom of the Details Window) to find all the pages that link to this dead link. If you do not see the “Referrers” Tab, you will need to click the left arrow that can be located on the bottom right hand side of the window (indicated by the Yellow Arrow).

Referrers list

Referrers list

You can now edit the pages that are linking to the broken link and remedy the issue.

Finding Broken Redirects that are Pointing to Non-Existent Pages

On occasion, we might have a web page, which links to a URL. The web server is configured to redirect requests (using "301 Moved Permanently" for example) to a second URL, however the second URL is a dead link. To understand where the redirected broken link originates from we need to take a closer look at the referring links in the Acunetix Scan Results.

In the Broken Links section, Acunetix WVS will present the link as a normal broken link, as shown in the screenshot.

Redirected broken link

Redirected broken link

When checking the Site Structure, the broken link (redirectdoesnotexist) is also shown as "Not Found".

Broken Link in Site Structure

Broken Link shown in Site Structure

The page linking to "redirectdoesnotexist" (retrieved from the Referrers tab) is redirectinglink.htm.

Referrer of broken link

Referrer of broken link

Redirectinglink.htm is marked as "Moved Permanently" in the Site Structure, indicating that this is a redirecting link. The Referrers tab of redirectinglink.htm will show the page linking to the redirected site.

Referrer of redirected link

Referrer of redirected link

You now need to decide which link you need to arrange. You can either arrange the original page, or the redirection.

Broken links can give a bad image, and they're very annoying. Acunetix WVS can provide a clear picture of all the broken links on your site, and further information on how to fix the links. Once these are broken links have been detected, they are very easy to solve.

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  1. Pingback: You can easily find broken links by using Acunetix WVS ← CyberOxen

  2. satyanarayana

    We have required to scan our application in Acunetix from Chrome or Mozilla instead of IE. Please Let me know how to change Acunetix browser.

    March 26, 2013 at 6:19 am Reply
  3. Hi,

    Are you referring to the user-agent setting? You can change this from Acunetix WVS > Configuration > Scan Settings > HTTP Options.

    April 3, 2013 at 2:36 pm Reply
  4. captcah

    Is there any way to configure acunetix and enable it to scan only for broken links instead of additional parameters?

    September 3, 2013 at 1:15 pm Reply
    • Hi,

      You can use the site crawler to crawl the site and easily identify the broken links.

      September 4, 2013 at 9:28 am Reply
  5. Nicole Padlan

    I have scanned a website, acunetix detected that it has broken links. but as I manually checked the website. I can’t find the broken link. Is it possible that the link is removed?

    December 12, 2013 at 6:17 am Reply
    • Hi Nicole,

      Did you have any items shown in the Referrers page? The latest build of Acunetix will also include a link to the page in the Crawl Results for each broken link – Search for “This vulnerability affects … ” in the Details section of the specific item.

      December 12, 2013 at 9:21 am Reply
      • Nicole Padlan

        Thank you for your reply! our team was able to solve this broken links problem. Anyway, I have another question, is ‘Application Error Message’ and ‘Error message on page’ the same? Can be it solved by using custom error pages in c# asp.net? Thank you so much Nicholas.

        December 16, 2013 at 6:44 am Reply