Understanding Hot Linking and its Effects

There are always two ways of doing things – right or wrong, good or bad, ethical or unethical and in the world of Internet one can find these existing side by side. While some webmasters adopt a clean and clear approach for their websites, others opt for improper manners, which though beneficial in the short run produce undesirable results later. The topic of this article relates to the latter and is called Hot Linking.

What is Hot Linking?

Hot Linking is the practice where a webmaster directly links an image, video or some file placed on another site to his own site. In other words, it involves displaying something; say an image, on your site, which is property of some other site. In some cases, a site may not have an issue if its images are linked to by another site provided credit is given. But when it is done without permission is a kind of violation.

Why hot linking is considered bad?

For the site whose files are Hot Linked

When linking an image to another site, a webmaster is using the bandwidth of the site containing the picture and not the bandwidth of his site. This can be regarded as stealing the bandwidth of another site and for this reason Hot Linking is also referred to as ‘Bandwidth Theft’. Here the website owner doesn’t download the file to his own server rather hotlinks the files so that when a user clicks on the file, the bandwidth of the site hosting the picture is used. As a result, the site whose file is being hot linked will have to pay for the additional use of the bandwidth.

There are some other common names of this type of linking such as Inline Linking, Leeching Remote Linking and Direct Linking.

For the site indulging in Hot Linking

Switcheroo – Mind it

This happens when a webmaster in order to prevent bandwidth theft, replaces the image with another totally irrelevant image leaving the other site owner in an embarrassing situation in front of the users. Imagine your visitors being shown an image of the ‘Monkey’ when they click on a hot linked image on your site. This will create a very bad impression on them.

Broken Files or Images

In case the original site to which another site has hot linked changes or removes the file, it will have detrimental effect on the latter. Either the images or files will appear broken or a blank space will be displayed instead of supposed file. Since no control can be exercised over the other, hot linking can lead to unwanted situations.

Increased Loading Time

From SEO perspective too, hot linking is considered bad for it increases the time taken by a web page to load. This happens because files are stored on a different server from where they are to be drawn. This lowers the site’s speed and search engines, especially Google pay much attention to loading time. Thus Hot linking can have a direct effect on ranking as well.

Legal tangle

It is obvious that using the property of another without permission is not legal. As Hot Linking amounts to unauthorized use of files, it may happen that the webmaster whose site is being hotlinked may file a case. This can land the other site in undesirable legal tangles.

From the above discussion, it can be said that Hot Linking does more harm than good and thus should be avoided.

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About the Author: Robin C

Security Consultant, Engineer, Technology Enthusiast and Blogger.

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  1. Hello snaha you did a wonderful job on here. Thank you so much for sharing your valuable ideas on here. And, it would be more helpful to know about hot linking.

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