How to Stop Hotlinking on Your WordPress Site

The freedom on the internet is almost endless. People do something terrible, and they can get away with it without any repercussions. Meaning, it’s also filled with people who love to leech off of someone else’s property. And that involves the website and the blogging community.

Website owners pay premium amounts for their hosting provider, and that would include how much bandwidth they get to use for their gain. Some leechers can suck a considerable amount of bandwidth from these websites. The term for that is hotlinking.

“This process referred to as hotlinking means that another site is using resources from your web hosting, which leads your WordPress site to load slower,” says Derek Iwasiuk in this post. “As a site owner, you want your site to benefit from all the resources available at your disposal and no one else’s.”

In this article, we’ll list down some of the steps on how to prevent this from happening. Take a look below.

What is hotlinking?

To put it simply, hotlinking is when someone uses the URL of a resource (images, videos, stylesheets) you have uploaded on your website.

This means, you can see the image on their website, but your bandwidth is doing the heavy lifting from your end.
This could be very convenient for the hotlinker since it’s one less space in their bandwidth.

People consider hotlinking as akin to theft because doing it means using another site’s paid resources without the owner’s permission.

There is also a possibility that search engines will give more importance to the thief’s link. Causing you to lose the traffic that should’ve been yours.

To give you a better idea on how to prevent people from hotlinking your content, here’s a video that will teach you:

How to know if someone is hotlinking your images

Your website becoming slow can mean many things, which is why you cannot quickly detect if someone is hotlinking to your photos or something else. To know whether someone is leeching off of your bandwidth, use Google Images.

Using Google Images is super easy. To check which sites are hotlinking your files, copy and paste this into the search bar:

inurl:website.com -site:website.com

Of course, you need to change the “website.com” to yours for this to work. This command above will show you all the images from your site and remove all of which that includes your website’s URL. In the rest of the results, you’ll find your images that other websites are hotlinking.

However, it’s not 100% perfect, so you’ll have to sort some things up. But if you don’t want to use any third party tools then this is just the best thing you can use.

How to stop others from hotlinking on your site?

After looking for any traces that your site might have been a victim of it, whatever the results are, you have to do these steps we’ll share below. Because even if you don’t see anyone doing this on your site, you still need to gear up and prepare when something terrible might come up. Hotlinking is easy to be done and you falling a victim is not impossible.

Use Cloudflare

A CDN like Cloudflare has a Hotlink Protection which you can turn on for your site. What it does is it checks any request for an image that’s hosted on your site and see if the request is from your website or not. And if not, they will be denied access.

Some hosting providers like Hostgator and SiteGround who partnered up with Cloudflare have this service as well. If you don’t use any of these two, check with your provider and see if they offer anything similar.

Configure .htaccess

To access your site’s .htaccess file, you need to download an FTP client like FileZilla. If you are not too familiar with this, we urge you to backup your files first before doing anything. This will save you from any future headaches when worst comes to worst.

Here’s a step by step guide to prevent hotlinking using this technique.

Conclusion

Hotlinking has been around for a while and is a real problem many website owners face. It doesn’t just affect your site’s performance; it can also be a reason for your readers to leave immediately. Make sure to check your website regularly to see if any unusual things are happening. If you want to see a visual explanation and steps to prevent this, watch the video tutorial here.

We hope this guide will help you stop others from stealing the bandwidth you’ve paid for!