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Preventing image hot linking

Preventing image hot linking

Hot Linking

There are numerous way of preventing image hot linking but most of them do not achieve what we would really like as an end result!

You can deny an IP address but this doesn't always work in preventing an image from being hot linked. The site your image is hot linked from usually does not make a direct call from its IP address. The image may have already been uploaded to the offending site with a direct link to your image. Often as a smaller image taking up only a few bytes on the offending site but when clicked on goes to your larger image stored on your server and therefore using up your bandwidth. It is also often only the image itself which shows up to the person who clicked on it which, is preventing the rest of your website from being seen and not really offering anything in return.

You could rename all the images being hot linked but then you would also have to alter most of your site to accommodate this.

Preventing image hot linking

The best way of preventing image hot linking is through your .htaccess file. If your not sure what a .htaccess file is then you may find it difficult preventing image hot linking on your site. If you are not familiar with the control panel and of how your website works internally the same may apply. If you don't have access to any of the above (.htaccess file or Control Panel) You maybe able to ask the administrator of your site to apply the technique I will explain later.

Now there are many web sites on the internet that can tell you ways of preventing image hot linking on your site and these usually include:

  1. logging into you cpanel, clicking on the hot link protection facility, enabling hot link protection, adding sites you will allow, entering where you would like any hot linked image to redirect to etc etc etc.
  2. Entering some code in your .htaccess file and hey presto, no hot linked image! (not always the case).

The problems with No 1 above is that it is not very straightforward for the beginner. It not carried out correctly you may find that enabling hot linking of all your images on all your sites/subdomain/addon domains, often shows no images to anyone looking at any of your sites, not even you! It doesn't prevent those sites, as mentioned above, who already have a thumbnail of your image with a direct link to it, from showing the image itself. This is because it is making a direct call using the URL of the image (http://domain name/image). If you disable hot link protection after applying it once to all your sites it can remove with it, other rewrite rules that were applied to individual .htaccess files on other directories/sites you may have applied earlier (not good).

No 2 above is probably the best but can still cause some undesired effects if done incorrectly. Again if the image has been copied already to the offending sites server and linked (clickable) from a direct request to your site, it is not in theory a hot link. Although the image is not being called everytime someone views the offending page. This may still be undesirable as it is using up valuable bandwidth when someone clicks on the copied image on someone else's site then connects to your image only. Showing the image only without offering any other interesting parts of your site.
Using this method you may only redirect a hot linked image eg .jpg or .gif to another .jpg or .gif file. Ok... So this is one solution! You can redirect the hot linked image or images to another jpg or gif image which can say something on it like: "This image has been stolen" or "To view this image go to whatever website", but at the end of the day it is still only an image. The wording on it can not be highlighted, copied or pasted into an address bar, so the viewer can access your site easily and see the image in its proper environment. They would have to physically type the letters of your website address shown in the image you presented them into their browser address bar. Which I doubt not many would be bothered to do. It's rather like placing an advertisement that people look at but don't take any notice of... Some will, most won't.

Wouldn't it be great if you could prevent image hot linking or image direct linking to something more beneficial like a clickable link to your home page or and html page?

Well you can!

Preventing image hot linking

To discover how to prevent image hot linking and redirect it anywhere you like 

click the "Stop Thief" link in the left hand column or click here!

 

 

 

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