What Is Hotlinking and How To Avoid It?

With the inception of the internet come all sorts of ways for users to use the system in a less than admirable way. One of these ways is hotlinking. You may have heard of it. Here are some facts about hotlinking and why you need to be aware and stay away from doing it.


Let’s say that you see a video on someone else’s site. If they allow you to download the video, then you can embed it into the text on your site with their link so that they get the credit. Sometimes though, you may tweak the link so that it appears on your page without the owner’s consent. This can cause problems for the owner.

This is how we get to hotlinking. That link to the video you posted on your site for others to link to? Well, what your visitors and clickers don’t know is that the video is linked to the original site. Each time that someone clicks and views it, the bandwidth used to run it is not coming from your site but the other site.

Still not seeing the problem? Well, website owners pay for bandwidth on a server. This is the space that they have available to run software, store files and anything else that they are allowed to do on the site. Each time videos on the server are watched, they use a certain amount of bandwidth. That is paid for by the site owner.

When you use their video still on their site, they are paying each time someone clicks on YOUR site. This is theft and you are doing it if you are direct linking to a website’s video or file without their permission.

How do you know that you are jacking someone for their bandwidth? Look at the coding for your link. If it includes a tag that requests the image from a website server other than yours, then you know that the image is being accessed from that server. There will be no added website address in the HTML language if it is on your server.

Hotlinking can drive up your website charges if someone is stealing from you. But, don’t think this is like using your neighbour’s water hose when they are out of town. Victims of the theft can get even at your expense and it can be more costly than what you are doing.

Since the files and images are on another server, it can be changed at any time by that owner. You could look at your website one day and realize that you have an image showing that is inappropriate or derogatory. This is called “switcheroo.” It could get you booted off your server if someone complains.

The solution is not to hotlink in the first place. If you think you are inadvertently hotlinking, take steps to stop it right away.

Filed under Grow Your Business #

Leave a Comment

Fields marked by an asterisk (*) are required.

Subscribe without commenting