Hosting Tutorial & Guide

What Is Hotlinking & Why Should You Prevent It?

updated on Sep 14, 2014
What Is Hotlinking & Why Should You Prevent It? Hotlinking, as a popular and frequently-mentioned cyber term, is perhaps not so familiar to beginners as most of the experienced webmasters do. But there is no need to worry a lot even you indeed know little about hotlinking, because we have prepared you with an easy-to-understand definition on it and the detailed reasons needed to prevent it. Keep on reading and get the information you want.

What Is Hotlinking

In a word, hotlinking is usually used over the Internet to describe the behaviour of presenting an image, video or file on a website through linking to the same image, video or file on another website and it is usually referred to the bandwidth theft. Furthermore, it means that you display your wanted images or videos by just using another web server instead of downloading the images or videos as the copyright and then uploading them onto your own website.

What Is Hotlinking What's more, bandwidth is usually referred to the data which is transferred from a website to a computer. Thus, if you directly link or embed images directly from another server, your visitors can take a look at your pictures by using other user's bandwidth and it will cost many innocent users a large amount of extra money even you are not on purpose.

Furthermore, there are some legitimate causes to turn to hotlink. For example, for people who have multiple websites, they can display their contents on another site through using the same server. Besides, a large number of advertisement programs make use of hotlinks in order to showcase their advertisements on the client pages. However, most of the hotlinks are illegal and not accepted by most of people because it can bring about bad effects and consequences.

Why It Should Be Prevented

It is obvious that the hotlinking should be prevented and prohibited because it offenses other users' right and vice versa yours. For example, if you are hotlinked, you will have to pay for unknown and unnecessary fees for others stealing your bandwidth and creative works in secret. It is common that you feel angry and be strongly violated by the bandwidth theft.

Why It Should Be Prevented In addition, if you are the one to make use of hotlinks, on the one hand you will have no ideas on whether the image directly linked from someone's server has been changed or not, and on the other hand you will be easily detected by other webmasters' protection measures. As a result, the image you have hotlinked cannot be displayed correctly on the basis of the strict online policies on offensive images and your site will be shut down once the owner uses DMCA law.

Therefore, for everyone's benefit, it is quite necessary to prevent hotlinking in the daily life. Additionally, you are able to prohibit some unauthorized websites from embedding or linking the designated images or files by adopting the hotlink protection.

How to Enable Hotlink Protection

In this section, we would like to give you a brief steps and some useful tips you need to make your site hotlink-protected. First of all, let's take how to use hotlink protection on HostGator for example and you can follow the displayed steps below to get the site well-protected. Note that it is indeed ease-of-hassle and easy-to-navigate.

1. At the first place, you need to log into your cPanel and then scroll down to the section of Security. Next, give one click on the "HotLink Protection" icon which can be easily noticed.

How to Enable Hotlink Protection - Security Section

2. Then, there is a list of sites in the "URLs to allow access" text area and you need to make sure that the domain name you need to protect is in that box.

3. Next, enter the extensions that you wish to be protected and block in the box of Block direct access for these extensions. Attention should be paid that they should be separated by commas and document file types are not allowed to be filled in. In details, you can fill in jpeg, png, gif, bmp, flv and avi in this box.

4. It is recommended to click on the "Allow direct requests" section as it helps to allow visitors enter the URL to an image on your browser.

5. Then, enter the URL of the redirection destination in the "Redirect request to this URL" section. In this way, others attempting to access your protected files are redirected to somewhere else. Do not forget to click on the "Submit" button.

How to Enable Hotlink Protection - Submit

Till to this step, you have completely finished the configuration of hotlink protection. Apart from this method, you are capable of staying away from hotlinking by watermarking images and using as .htaccess files as well as making use of supplied protection measures from your web hosting companies.