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UIT Launches New Vanity URL Platform

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

With UIT’s new Vanity URL service, you can create and manage custom Stanford URLs to redirect your website traffic.

Animated GIF showing URL changing to

Vanity URLs provide a shorter and more descriptive address that is easy to remember, type and share. For example, a URL like is easier to type and quicker to identify than

With your custom Stanford URL, you can also use the service to create short links to direct people to specific pages. For example, a URL like is simpler and more memorable than

What’s new and different?

The Vanity URL service provides more flexibility, enhanced security and improved performance. You’ll be able to:

  • Set URL ownership. A Stanford workgroup is required to own a Vanity URL. UIT will send yearly notifications to members of the workgroup about impending expirations. If the workgroup has no active members or admins, the Vanity URLs will expire and no longer forward web traffic.
  • Shorten, customize and manage URLs. Workgroup members will have the ability to create, customize and manage short links. Workgroup members also have the ability to change vanity URL ownership at any time.
  • Get expiration notifications. Every Vanity URL now has a one-year expiration date. The owning Stanford workgroup will be notified to renew their vanity URL annually.

Why the change?

The new Vanity URL service replaces the legacy Virtual Host Redirect service on Stanford’s Andrew File System (AFS) as part of University IT's Web Content Management Program.

The Web Content Management Program was intended to move all web content off of Stanford’s Andrew File System (AFS). The legacy Virtual Host Redirect service is being replaced by the new Vanity URL application which moves the traffic forwarding to our cloud vendor.

AFS is minimally supported and hosts a number of web spaces created by individuals and other organizations in unsupported, outdated, and vulnerable versions of web tools. In addition to inherent security issues, the decades-old system is costly to maintain and support, lacks modern usability features, and is impacted by delayed open source fix releases.

In 2017, the university president, provost, and board of trustees gave the directive to the Stanford CIO to address the growing concerns around the security, privacy, and stability of AFS. To date, UIT has focused on advancing the Web Content Management Program — a multi-year initiative to provide modern, secure, and managed cloud-based web alternatives, and reduce the overall footprint of AFS. This change does not impact virtual host proxies.

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