Hotlinking or bandwidth theft is directly linking to a website’s file, such as images, videos, etc. Whenever you access any web file, that action will consume what we call site bandwidth. Bandwidth is the amount of data transmitted from one computer (or any digital device) to another at a certain period of time. A web file consumes the bandwidth of the site where it is hosted.
Bandwidth consumption depends on the following factors:
- Size of the file
- Number of users accessing it
- Internet speed
- Type of connection
For instance, if a user accesses an image hosted on your website, this action will consume a portion of your site’s bandwidth. When someone puts a link to the same image in their website, that will also consume a portion of your site’s bandwidth.
Simply put, bandwidth theft is like having a stranger plug into your electrical outlets, use your electricity without your permission, and have you pay for it.
You can prevent other websites from Hotlinking images or directly linking to files on your website using a cPanel feature called Hotlink Protection.
How to Enable and Configure Hotlink Protection
Follow these instructions to enable and configure Hotlink Protection.
- Click Sign Up / Log In at the top of this page.
- Select Hosting Manager from the drop-down menu.
- Enter your username and password then, click Log In.
- On the Home page, scroll down and click the word Security or the [ v ] Arrow on the right side.
- Click the Hotlink Protection icon, which is next to IP Blocker.
- Under Configure Hotlink Protection, a list of allowed referrers will show up.
- Under URLs to allow access, list all the sites from which you wish to allow direct links. This system attempts to add all sites it knows you own to the list; however, you may need to add others.
- Under Block direct access for the following extensions, list all the file extensions you want the Hotlink Protection to block direct access to.
- Click the Enable button above Configure Hotlink Protection to enable the feature.
Congratulations! You just enabled and configured Hotlink Protection.