Should You Use Hotlink Protection?
This is a quick post about something that has troubled and intrigued me over the years, should you use hotlink protection?
What is a Hotlink?
First of all if you don't know what im talking about, its pretty simple, when someone visits your site, their browser downloads all the pictures, text, code to make the page show up, but what happens if someone copies the url of one of your images and puts it on their page? then when someone goes to their page, it will show up your image on their site, so effectively you are giving away bandwidth to someone else.
Sounds bad, right? That is when hotlink protection comes up, there are different ways of doing it, but its basically just a couple of tweaks to the software/code/server to block anyone besides your site from using your content...
The Rise of Social and CDN'sThere was a time when bandwidth and hosting was expensive (like in Australia heheheh), where hosting a image or video was costly, but nowadays we live with a different set of rules, hosting and bandwidth is pretty cheap, not only that but a lot of the social websites depend and interconnect with the content on the web (facebook, twitter, pinterest, etc... are very popular because they provide a platform for sharing content, and sometimes that content is in your site).
I kinda think that whats important now is to have good content and popular content, so things like someone hot-linking are no longer a issue of cost, but one of opportunity, its also a type of problem that nowadays can be easily fixed with the use of CDN's or cheap hosting.
Hotlink protection is also another form of a walled garden, and although suitable for some types of sites, most would gain more from being open and easily accessible, search engines will appreciate and users even more, so... should you use hotlink protection, im kinda inclined to say no! not anymore ^_^.