Writing Tips at GarySpeer.com

Tips for writers and musing about writing and life

Beware of bandwidth thieves, they can cost you money in webhosting

I want to say a little about website and blog issues, all related to Internet writing and stuff you need to know if you’re writing and putting anything on the Internet. As I sit comfortably here at my modern desk — the sort of computer and desk setup everyone needs, a “Tablemate” stand for my laptop adjusted just right in front of my massive maroon colored recliner chair — I think I’ll start with a mysterious techie term I only partly understand myself. I’m talking about “bandwidth.”

As I understand it, “bandwidth” is sort of the dataflow up and down, back and forth, between your website and the browsers of all those good folks who flock there. If you run a blog or a mostly text website, adequate bandwidth is probably included as part of your webhosting package, and you may never need to know about it.

If you have a site loaded with graphics, you probably use enough bandwidth to know something about it. And if you find someone linking to the images on your website from their website — you really know more than you want to know about bandwidth. That’s the focus of what I’m saying here: Beware of bandwidth thieves.

Some people are too cheapskate, too dishonest, too nasty to get their own photos and graphics. They look around the Internet (or have software which looks for them) and mooch off YOUR bandwidth because they like a photo or graphic on YOUR website. These folks either aren’t ambitious enough to get their own graphics/photos, or they’re just too dishonest to care about this whole issue of Internet thievery. Probably a combination of both. But they very likely aren’t stealing your graphics and bandwidth accidentally. It takes a bit of knowledge to do it.

What happens is something like this:

Snidley Nasty sees your blog and really likes that photo you posted of your granddaughter. The granddaughter is a cute toddler, and Snidley has a lovely blog about babies and kids (which he generates by stealing articles and stuff off other blogs). Snidley has no kids, no grandkids, and spends most of his time and money on wild women and song.

Snidley simply right-clicks on your blog page, or views it as “Source” through his browser, and gets the name of your photo, say “nancy.jpg.” He then creates a link on his blog about babies and toddlers — and for the image he uses, instead of setting it up to an image in a directory on HIS blog, old Snidley Nasty just links to the image at your blog’s URL, i.e., http://www.yourblognot mine.com/nancy.jpg would probably work.

Now Snidley not only displays your dear Grandbaby Nancy on his website — everyone who views his website draws bandwidth from YOUR website to see your lovely Nancy on this scoundrel’s place.

Some of you reading this may know more about the mechanics of this than I, but I THINK that’s at least close. The practice is called “hot linking,” and it can cost you significant bandwidth if good old Snidley Nasty has a lot of visitors to his site. If your webhost charges you $$ or shuts you down when you exceed your bandwidth, the Snidley Nasties of the Internet are a problem.

There’s one quick fix that might help you. Most webhosts let you activate, or will activate it for you, a feature that blocks hot linking. It’s very simple to implement. I’m not so naive as to think it can halt all the Nasties on the Internet, but it certainly won’t hurt. Check out your “cpanel” for it, if you manage your own website. If you have others who manage the site, or your webhost doesn’t give you cpanel access, shoot them an email or phone call and ask.
[tags]Internet writing, blogging, bandwidth stealing, hot linking to images, writing tips at garyspeer.com[/tags]