Image hotlinking has become a big issue on the Internet. It occurs when another website directly links to an image on your own site which will eat up your bandwidth. If someone hotlinks to an image and their site doesn’t receive much traffic, the publisher may never notice that this is going on. However, if the site does receive a decent amount of traffic there might be a noticeable increase in the bandwidth being used.
We have come across several sites that do this with some of our images, but we normally just leave it alone since they don’t get enough traffic to cause our server any harm. A new service called ImgRed (short for Image Redirection) is looking to conquer this problem by providing an easy way for users to hotlink to images without eating up the publisher’s bandwidth!
Once you have the URL of an image, just prepend http://imgred.com/ onto it and the ImgRed server will do the rest of the work. So if you wanted to link to an image the HTML code would look something like this:
<img src="http://imgred.com/http://www.mozilla.com/img/firefox/main-feature2.jpg" />
Or you can even link to a thumbnail version of the image that ImgRed generates. This is done by prepending http://imgred.com/tn/ onto the image URL:
<img src="http://imgred.com/tn/http://www.mozilla.com/img/firefox/main-feature2.jpg" />
The first time that an image is requested via an ImgRed link it will pull it directly from the publisher, but then every other time it will be hosted by the ImgRed server.
I think this is a great concept for a service, but it is hard to tell how long it will be around for. They are currently providing the source code so that other people can setup similar servers, but this could be a sign that the service will be short lived. If that’s the case I’m not sure if you would want to risk using ImgRed on a regular basis because it could cause a lot of broken images (a.k.a. no images appear) if the site is taken down.
Note: Website publishers can also block ImgRed from caching their images if this is something that you don’t want.