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  5. HotLinking - Enable and Disable HotLink Protection

HotLinking - Enable and Disable HotLink Protection

Hotlink protection prevents other websites from directly linking to files and pictures on your website. Other sites will only be able to link to file types that you don't specify.

An example of hotlinking. Say I like the image on your website, and I want that image on my site. If I use the full URL of your image on my site, then the image is downloading from your site every time someone looks at my site. This means I am using your bandwidth for the image. When you enable Hotlink Protection, then I cannot steal your bandwidth anymore.


Configuring Hotlink Protection


To enable Hotlink Protection:

  1. Log into cPanel.
  2. In the Security section, click Hotlink Protection.

    cPanel - Hotlink Protection

  3. Make sure the domain name you wish to protect is in the box called URLs to allow access.

    Configure Hotlink Protection

  4. In the box called Block direct access for the following extensions (comma-separated), provide the extensions for which you would like to block.

    cPanel - Block Direct Access for Hotlinking

  5. Leave the Redirect request to this URL box unchecked unless you want outside users to be redirected to another page. If yes, input the destination URL.
  6. Hit Submit.
  7. Scroll up a bit and hit Enable.

  8. A successful confirmation page will appear.

  9. Click Go Back.

To disable Hotlink Protection:

  1. In the Hotlink Protection page, click Disable.
  2. A confirmation page will be displayed.

You have now protected your images from being hot-linked. Just be sure that all of your additional domains are on the Hotlink list.

WARNING: If your images stop working, you may need to check your HTML source code for a common problem. Some website designers (or programs) may decide to use absolute pathnames for your images. That means, instead of a relative path like "/images/pic.jpg", it will use the entire URL like "http://www.domain.com/images/pic.jpg". You must have that exact protocol and domain name listed in your allowed URLs ("URLs to allow access"). If there is any slight difference in the protocol (http://) or in the domain name (domain.com/) between the allowed list and the HTML source code, then your images will be blocked.
Note: Some firewalls (such as Symantec's Norton Internet Security, and ZoneAlarm) will block a special referrer variable in order to add more privacy for the user. HotLink protection works with this variable to tell where the request is coming from. As such, HotLink isn't the best solution to avoid bandwidth theft as it will eventually block legitimate requests from visitors using one of those firewalls. Unfortunately, this issue is not under our control, and there's nothing we can do to prevent it from blocking legitimate visitors. Use it at your own risk.