Everyone has done it at some point. Hotlinking. It seems so innocent. We’re here to tell you that hotlinking is not a good idea. Just don’t do it. Here’s why you should avoid it.
What is Hotlinking?
Have you ever seen an image you wanted to use on your website, so you copied and pasted the URL to plug into your own website? That’s hotlinking. It seems innocent enough, doesn’t it? All you did was copy and paste an image URL into your blog post or site. The picture looks perfect on your page. So what is the problem?
It’s Bandwidth Theft
OK, so theft might seem like a strong word but it’s an accurate description of what hotlinking does. The person who posted the image pays their server to host the picture. Every time the image is viewed, the data is transferred from the web site to the user’s computer. This is bandwidth. You have the picture on your site but the original owner is paying to deliver the data. This isn’t really fair, is it? It’s kind of like you plugging your computer into their outlet and using their electricity. It might not seem like much, but it can add up over time.
You are using the link to someone’s hosted image, so you have no control over what that image is. It might be exactly what you need for your site right now, but what if the owner decides to change the image to something else? If they simply delete the image, then you might have a blank screen or a box with an “x” in it. That is not a good look for your site. Also, the content owner might change the image to something that does not fit your brand or, even worse, is embarrassing. This is a big risk to take.
In the end, the internet is like one big neighborhood pub. We should try to be good patrons, and there are certain things that are just expected. One big expectation is that you do not ever hotlink, just like you should never take a sip out of someone’s mug without asking first.
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