The information in this post will teach you how to stop hotlinking bandwidth of your website. What do you know about hotlinking? Well, it is the main method involved in stealing bandwidth from your website by other site owners and/or bots. However, it can be expensive for you in web host cost.
Hotlinking has to do with creating direct links to a site’s non-HTML files in a way that embed these files on the page of another person. For instance, imagine you just created a very good website online (one of the best).
You have a huge image collection, and you have plenty of visitors coming to your website. All of a sudden, although there is no increase in your user stats, your bandwidth usage – data transferred from your website to viewers – is increasing. You were contacted by your web host/server administration informing you that you delivered 40% more images compared to last week.
Research changes in stats
Does it mean that your income has increased in the same manner? No. Was there any increase in the traffic served by your website? No. So, what’s happening? Well, another website owner has hotlinked your images from his own site instead of ripping your images off.
This means they are linking to the picture hosted on your website instead of saving your photo in their image directory. There was a time during early development of the internet where stealing an image was an acceptable solution as long as it is properly credited.
But such is not the case today. With bandwidth usage on the high side and lots of high-resolution images on the net, it’s totally not acceptable. It’s theft.
Why are people still hotlinking bandwidth?
There are several reasons for image hotlinking. Now, picture a newbie who is new to blogging or started selling via eBay. They need an image, and they are aware that it’s illegal to copy an image from another website and place it on their site.
So, they come up with the idea that you will not know if a person links out to your website. Plus, they are really interested in that image. They feel there is no evil intention to this. Whereas, it’s unlikely for it to increase your image serving to a great extent.
At this point, imagine you are operating a heavy-image website like an art website for example. Then, a competitor uses an image you uploaded on your site to sell their own posters? That’s malicious. What is more, there are robots stealing the entire contents of a site.
They can increase your bandwidth usage a lot more than usual if they use all the images on your site. As such, you don’t benefit or gain anything from this. There are some mean webmasters who employ this as a way to run their competitors down or chase them out of business. As the web host charges you for additional bandwidth or your website is taken down.
Discuss sudden increase in bandwidth with your host
And the unfortunate thing about this is that it can take time to get to the bottom of the issue. However, some web host will shut down hotlinking bandwidth following complaints. A similar illustration to this is when someone connects their electric wiring to yours for electricity. They don’t pay or contribute to the electricity they get from your home, and you end up paying for it alone.
Most people guilty of hotlinking bandwidth try to justify that what they are really doing is similar to stealing cable. There is a big difference since cable users pay flat rates for every service they use in total.
Or similarly, someone using a wireless Wan connection belonging to another. Besides this being true, it’s very easy to trace hotlinking bandwidth compared to any of these examples. Patience and a good Google search is a nice way out.
Am I hotlinking bandwidth?
You are hotlinking bandwidth if you are linking directly to a website non-HTML files owned by another. Or to any image belonging to another. You are hotlinking bandwidth if you see a link that starts with src=”http://” that lists a domain not belonging to you.
You are not charged for bandwidth serving this image. Instead, charges are incurred to the individual you are stealing the picture from.
It’s either you host images and any other file from your image directory. Or you upload the images to a free image host or server that permits hotlinking in its usage restrictions. If not, make sure you don’t do it.
Options for bandwidth issues
In order to stop hotlinking bandwidth, you can employ hotlinking checking services to check each of your image links. This can let you know if anyone has stolen them or know if your images are protected from hotlinking.
It involves websites that allow you to input your image URL in their form. It’s either the next page contains or does not contain your image. You are vulnerable if it does. However, you may be required to pay for this service if you have plenty of images to check.
However, there is an easier way to do this. That’s if you’ve got plenty of time to check all your images. What you can do is run a search on Google for the full URL link. Your image will turn up in the search if anyone has embedded your image URL on their website.
Once you notice this, you can employ any correction method that’s appropriate to stop hotlinking. It’s either you alert the webmaster, or complain to the website host/server.
You can also protect your files (pictures, sound, clips, and so on) and prevent hotlinking by using a .htaccess file or by contacting your server administrator.
Before you upload .htaccess files, make sure you contact your administrator. Make sure you protect your images to stop hotlinking bandwidth. Even if your images are secured, ensure you check them from time to time. Another old-fashion way to prevent this is to use watermarks on your images.
I discovered through observing stats in cpanel AWStats that I had a tremendous number of robots and bots stealing bandwidth. Upward to about 14 GB a month which is a lot. This was pushing me into a corner of paying an additional $15 a month for web hosting.
From my direct problem and observing robot activity relative to bandwidth usage, bots hotlinking bandwidth and stealing content must be big business.
I installed WP Security plugin for WordPress protection. It has options in blocking bots and there is 6G blacklist firewall rules for additional protection. There is also a choice of blocking hotlinking. I also use the WP Block Bad Bots which shows blocking over 8000 bots in over a month.
At any rate, my bandwidth usage went from 22 GB to 8 GB in a couple of weeks. Actually, it took some direct experience and some good choices to stop my problem. I hope this information to stop hotlinking bandwidth is helpful.