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Hotlinking: what is it, and why shouldn’t people do it?

Free hosting services often doesn't allow to use hotlinks.

I'm not sure if I understand it well and what is the reason of such a disaproval.

I would like to have pictures for my webpages in Photobucket e.g. which is allowed to have hotlinks and use those pictures using hotlinks on my sites. Is it that what is not allowed?

What is a problem for free host server owners to accept such links?

Bandwidth of Photobucket is used only as I understand and it is completely legal. I'v read quite enough abt hotlinks, but I can't understand this simple issue.


Hotlinks are links from other websites to images and page components located on your website and can create god awful loading on a web server, especially if you have some blog article go viral or are hosting a movie that gets extra popular. It's why most people who put videos on their website host the actual video on YouTube and let Google's CDN take care of the traffic.

Images hosted on your website are only to be used on your web pages, not someone else's.

Your use of Photobucket actually is probably encouraged by your hosting provider. It limits the traffic from your website to your HTML pages and can vastly reduce your traffic.

Free Host Servers are shared servers with several hundred websites coming off a single server. That is why they're free and in order to do this, they cannot tolerate any one website hogging the server's resources or using them irresponsibly.

To reiterate, hotlinking is other websites linking to your image and other component content (as opposed to page links) on your site and leeching your resources. Linking your website to content storage providers like Amazon Web Services S3 Buckets or Photobucket reduces your server traffic and frees your resources to handle serving out pages only.

  • Thank U for a great explanation. Ya, I'v just checked hotlink to my byethost pic : <img src="...byethost..."> from my another site n it stopped working quickly (pic wasn't visible). So as I understand such hotlinked pic from Photobucket
    – Michal P.
    Oct 23 '12 at 18:53

ToS means their terms of service. If you wan't a real answer contact the company who emailed you pointing out their Terms Of Service.

  • Nobody emailed me. Just I want to prepare foundation for my new project. Users would use Photobucket to add pictures to my new Web 2.0 style site... I want to be prepared if my project succeed
    – Michal P.
    Oct 25 '12 at 9:52

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