I don’t do this often (after all, this is an interior decorating blog), but sometimes I like to do a little post here and there to help out my fellow bloggers—especially those who may be new(ish) to the world of blogging.
If you’ve missed the past Blogging Help posts, you can see them here:
- Blogging Help:: Get More Traffic With “Alt” Tags On Your Pictures
- Blogging Help:: Mouseover “Quick View” Before & After Pictures
- Blogging Help:: Resize Your Photos and Reduce Readers’ Frustration
This post was actually sparked by a comment from a fellow blogger on last Thursday’s Pinterest post, which led to a couple of other comments from other bloggers, as well as a couple of e-mails to my inbox. The topic of stealing bandwidth is one that really seemed to confuse people, and confusion generally leads to frustration. So let’s start from the beginning.
First of all, let’s define “bandwidth”. I’m not a techie kind of person, and I don’t know the ins and outs of how the internet actually works, so we’ll keep this very elementary. “Bandwidth” simply refers to the amount of data that is transferred from one point in any given amount of time.
Let’s look at two practical examples (please note that neither of these examples are of a blogger stealing bandwidth, but are simply examples of how bandwidth works)…
The other day I was on a blog (can’t remember which one…sorry), and on her sidebar she had buttons for other blogs. One of the button photos wasn’t showing up, and instead the picture looked like this…
So why was that happening? That happened because people with free Photobucket accounts evidently have limited bandwidth. In other words, the amount of data that can be transferred from their Photobucket account to other people accessing that data is limited.
There’s no telling how many blogs this blogger’s button is on. 50? 100? More? But each time one person accesses any page of any of the blogs with that blogger’s image embedded on it, Photobucket has to send out that image information. Once the limit has been reached, the photo can no longer be sent out.
Back in June, I was invited by Kate to write a guest post on her blog Centsational Girl. I was thrilled to be invited to share my cart-style coffee table tutorial, and I created new pictures specifically for that post, like this one…
Because these photos were larger format that I generally use on my own blog, I decided to upload them to the Yahoo server that hosts my Kristi Linauer Interiors website, and then add them to the post that I sent to Kate.
The problem? Kate’s blog gets 3.5 times the traffic that mine does, and many, many, MANY more times the traffic than my Kristi Linauer Interiors website receives, which caused me to exceed the bandwidth limit in a hurry.
The result? None of the photos were showing up on my guest post on her blog. After freaking out a bit, I finally realized the problem and called Yahoo to upgrade my account to allow for more bandwidth. Problem solved, but it cost me.
That’s the bottom line when it comes to bandwidth…someone pays for it. Generally, a website or blog (1) is using free image hosting, in which case they have limited bandwidth, or (2) they are paying for image hosting, the cost of which is generally based on the amount of data being stored and transmitted, or (3) they are hosting the photos on their own servers (the case for many huge websites) in which case they are spending thousands of dollars to purchase, upgrade, and maintain their servers.
How do I know if I’m stealing bandwidth?
Let’s say, for example, that this morning I was perusing Apartment Therapy, and I came across a picture that I wanted to share in a post here on Addicted 2 Decorating…
Stealing their bandwidth would look like this: I would right click on the picture, and click on “Copy Image Location”…
And then I would go to Windows Live Writer, and click on “Picture” and then choose “From the web…”
If I paste the link that I just copied from the Apartment Therapy website, it will insert that picture into my blog…
Every blogging platform that I know of has the option to insert a picture directly from the internet. On Blogger, you copy and paste the link to the photo into the area on the right where it says “Or add an image from the web”…
On WordPress, there’s a tab that says, “From URL”…
Using this method to insert an image onto my blog from another blog or website is called hotlinking. And every time a visitor comes to my blog to view the post in which this photo is located, the code in my blog post is pulling that photo from the server that is hosting Apartment Therapy’s photos, which eats up their bandwidth.
Now I doubt that a site as huge as Apartment Therapy will have a problem of exceeding their bandwidth due to the traffic on a comparatively small blog like mine, but the point is that they don’t (and shouldn’t have to) pay to host photos for visitors coming to my site.
(I really hope that makes sense!!! I know my eyes generally glaze over, and I start dreaming of paint colors and fabric swatches when Matt starts talking about computer stuff.)
How Do I Avoid Stealing Bandwidth?
The answer is quite simple. In order to use a photo from another person’s website, mouse over the photo, right click on your mouse, and choose “Save Image As” to save it to your computer. Then upload the photo to your own account on whatever photo-hosting site you use, and use the code from your own account for that picture in your blog post.
(*Please note: This is not a discussion about copyright. It is up to each blogger to educate himself or herself regarding copyright law, fair use, proper linking and crediting, and to find out whether the owner of the photos allows use without express written permission, etc.)
Other Problems That Can Arise From Hotlinking To Others’ Uploaded Photos:
There are two other reasons that I can think of (there may be far more) to avoid hotlinking to another website’s photos.
- Some website owners who are particularly frustrated with bandwidth thieves have added a bit of code to their website that automatically sends out an alternate picturewhenever another site tries to access their photos.I’ve seen things ranging from very tame pictures that simply say, “This website loves _________” with the URL to the originating website. I’ve seen others that are a little harsher and say, “This website steals photos from ________”, again with the URL of the originating website.However, one time, I actually saw a photo with a similar message as one just mentioned, but the photo itself was of a very…hmmmm…let’s just say “mature” nature. And it’s important to note that a website owner can add this code at any point. So if you’ve written a post six months ago with hotlinks to another site’s photos, they may have shown up just fine then, but that may not always be the case. (This actually isn’t very common, but it’s incredibly embarrassing when it does happen.)
- You don’t have control over the photos. If you have hotlinked photos in your blog posts, and the owner of the photos decides to delete the pictures or rename the pictures, you’re stuck with blog posts with big, empty holes where photos once were. Not pretty. Not pretty at all.
So there you have it. The basics on bandwidth, stealing bandwidth, hotlinking, and how to avoid it.
Hope that helps!
(If you have questions about this, please feel free to leave them in a comment. I can’t guarantee that I’ll know the answer, but I’ll try my hardest to help you.)