Do You Know People Are Stealing Your Server Bandwidth?

The main concerned as a shared hosting site owner is the usage of your web server.

You always try to optimize it and avoid using too much of the allocated resources of your server.

If not, your site could slow down or even come to a stop where you and your visitors cannot access your website or blog.

One unnecessary wastage of your bandwidth (consumed communication data resources) is the act of hotlinking an image on your sever by other people.


What Does Hotlinking Images Mean?

Hotlinking also known as inline linking, piggy-backing, direct linking or offsite image grabs.

When people hotlink your image, it means that these people are using one of your images on their websites by linking it directly to your image that is stored on your server.

Normally if we want a picture from a site (with permission), what we do is we upload and save a copy of the image on our own website, on which the image will be shown.

But instead these unscrupulous people are using a direct link to your picture. They do not have to store the image on their site.

So each time, your image on your sever is shown on other people’s sites, there is data transfer request from your server.

In other words, they take advantage of your bandwidth from your server to show picture on their sites.

And you are the one who pay for it. To put it simply, hotlinking is stealing bandwidth!

There is a free tool where you can check whether your site can be hotlinked.

You just enter the image URL into the box and then click “Test Hotlinking Protection” button.

The free tool is over here.

Here is one simple way to stop hotlinking from your site files and prevent people from abusing your bandwidth.

1. Log into your web host server (Bluehost, DreamHost, GoDaddy, HostGator, etc)

2. Click on File Manager.

3. Go to your blog directory and look for .htaccess file.

4. Then paste this code onto it:

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www\.)?YOUR URL [NC]
RewriteRule \.(jpg|jpeg|png|gif)$ – [NC,F,L]

5. Remember you need to change YOUR URL to your own site home URL (homepage).

6. Then click Save Changes button.

That’s all you need to do.

You can now test whether your site is properly protected from being hotlinked. Go back to the test tool and type in any of your image URL and click on Test Hotlinking Protection button.

Take Note: At first if you see the image, do not worry. It is most likely the tester tool is showing you the cached snapshot of the image.

Just clear your cache. You do this by clicking on History on top of the page. Then click on Clear recent history.

Now retype the image URL into the tool tester again and click Test Hotlinkng Protection button. Now you should not see any image, except the text “Hotlinked image” or a red X.