Image Hotlinking – The 411

Have you heard of hotlinking – do you know what it is? I must admit when I started out blogging this was something that I did because I wasn’t aware I was doing anything wrong and didn’t know the repercussions of doing it. It’s something that doesn’t affect your site if you are doing it but boy does it have an effect on the sites that you hotlink to.

Hotlinking Images - the 411, what is image hotlinking, how it affects your site and what you can do about it

What is hotlinking?

Hotlinking is where you take an image from another’s site use the URL and then insert that image URL into your own site. It’s one of the options in your Add Media when you write a post in WordPress – Insert from URL. And really there is no harm to your site to do it. BUT, on the other end, there can be huge issues, every time that image gets pulled up a little of your bandwidth is being used!

It also may not be anyone’s fault but your own – and this is where I did it a lot. When I guest posted I would write my post as a draft on my site insert all of my carefully edited images and then send the HTML copy to another site and wow there it is my post going viral on another site with my images on my server.

Those little bits add up and the big bits – like really add up over time and then suddenly your host is in contact that you have exceeded your bandwidth quota for the site and you have to pay more. Don’t believe me – then look at my November bandwidth on Rainy Day Mum – YES that actually does say 2.7TB that is 2700GB of bandwidth from my site.

Hotlinking Images - the 411, what is image hotlinking, how it affects your site and what you can do about it

Ok, it was a great month traffic wise but let’s look at April 2016 one of the slowest months I have had this year that still has 711.13GB of bandwidth being used. When you look at hosting the more bandwidth you use, the more expensive it gets. SO NOT A GOOD THING at all.

Hotlinking Images - the 411, what is image hotlinking, how it affects your site and what you can do about it

How can you find out if you have images hotlinked?

I could write a how to, on finding out whether you images are being hotlinked on another site – but why, reinvent the wheel and Scottish Mum has a really good how to on discovering it so over to her and finding out where your images are.

How can you get the bandwidth from image hotlinking under control?

Wouldn’t it be grand if we could all go now and message everyone that has hotlinked to an image from our site – those that are happening from when you guest posted go ahead and send over the images that you used and ask them whether they wouldn’t mind swapping them out because it’s drawing on your bandwidth.

Now let’s deal with the others. We’re going to get technical but I will try and make this as easy as possible – if you are still not sure then I am offering a hotlinking service for $30 where I will go in and edit the code for you and believe me you will see an improvement straight away. Don’t believe me just look at the bandwidth graph below – the red arrow points to when I inserted the code and then Saturday was my biggest traffic day that week!

Hotlinking Images - the 411, what is image hotlinking, how it affects your site and what you can do about it

Step by Step

WE ARE GOING TO BE EDITING A FILE ON YOUR CPANEL – PLEASE MAKE A BACKUP AND ENTER THE CHANGES YOU HAVE MADE INTO YOUR CHANGELOG

  1. Log into your cPanel and open up File ManagerHotlinking Images - the 411, what is image hotlinking, how it affects your site and what you can do about it
  2. It will look something like this (this is a recent update to the file manager and does make it easier to navigate)
  3. Click on Public.html as this is where your files will be stored
  4. Then click on your site folder e.g. rainydaymum.co.uk
  5. It may look slightly differentHotlinking Images - the 411, what is image hotlinking, how it affects your site and what you can do about it
  6. Click on the cog in the top right-hand corner
  7. Select Show Hidden Files and saveHotlinking Images - the 411, what is image hotlinking, how it affects your site and what you can do about it
  8. Now look in that folder for .htaccessHotlinking Images - the 411, what is image hotlinking, how it affects your site and what you can do about it
  9. Select the file and click on download this will put a backup copy onto your machine.
  10. Go to Preventing Hotlinking and set up your code – your domain in the first boxHotlinking Images - the 411, what is image hotlinking, how it affects your site and what you can do about it
  11. Then go to the bottom and click on Generate .htaccess file
  12. Ignore the instruction on the site there as your site already has a .htaccess file and you don’t want to remove the instructions already there
  13. We are now going to edit on the server it is really simple so don’t worry and you have your backup file that you can upload if needed. Click on .htaccess and edit in the menu barHotlinking Images - the 411, what is image hotlinking, how it affects your site and what you can do about it
  14. Click before # Begin WordPressHotlinking Images - the 411, what is image hotlinking, how it affects your site and what you can do about it
  15. Insert a new line by clicking enter
  16. Type in # Prevent Hotlinking
  17. Copy and Paste your code across from the Preventing hotlinking site
  18. Save
  19. ALL DONE!

Image used of Woman earning Euro’s on the Internet via Depositphotos

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Hotlinking Images - the 411, what is image hotlinking, how it affects your site and what you can do about it

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Cerys Parker

Cerys is the founder of Rainy Day Mum a top UK parenting blog. Prior to having children, she taught digital media and web development. Supporting other bloggers to develop, grow and expand their blogs through actionable tasks that aren't as terrifying as they seem to be!

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nennisb@yahoo.com - May 25, 2016

I don’t care about the bandwidth for one of my sites, but am finding redirects on my images I’m assuming they’ve hijacked them in some way – will this prevent that? If so, I want to hire you, Cerys, to do this for my craft site and a new site.

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    Cerys Parker - May 25, 2016

    I’ve just been checking it out after seeing your comment on the Facebook Page. It looks like they are hotlinking and you can click on it but it’s not obvious. I would recommend doing this as since I did not only has my bandwidth decreased but my click throughs on Pinterest has also seen a notable difference as well.

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