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Gorby

Hotlinking Photo Host Choices

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Hotlinking Photo Host Choices

 

Being a photo host is quite a precarious existence, many have failed in the last few years, taking people's precious photo links with them, so it's worth taking time to choose one that will last the course and not leave you in the lurch at some future date. Not all photo hosts are suitable as many are not happy for you to hotlink (direct link) content to other sites, which is what we need for this site.

 

If you choose to go with a free host please bear in mind that hosting photos uses a LOT of storage and bandwidth, which is far from cheap, so the company in question is likely to want to recoup that cost in some way either by adverts or eventually charging its members, as PhotoBucket famously did a few years ago when they upset virtually all their users with a huge annual fee.

 

In the list below, if I haven't mentioned the fee, it's free as far as I can tell. Prices quoted are from November 2019, and will usually only change in an upward direction.

Please note: The list in no particular order – being first doesn’t mean it's better, I recommend you read the whole list before you make any decision.

 

Flickr (now owned by SmugMug)

https://www.flickr.com/

 

The basic fee is $49.99 per year (currently £38.51) or $5.99 per month (£4.61)

 

Flickr does allow hotlinking with one caveat:

Flickr makes it possible to post content hosted on Flickr to other web sites. Pages on other web sites that display content hosted on flickr.com must provide a link from each photo or video back to its page on Flickr. This provides a way to get more information about the content and the photographer.”


Currently Flickr allows 1000 free uploads, but as they are now owned by Smugmug (who scrapped their own free account option) this may not last forever.

 

ImageShack

https://www.imageshack.us/

 

The basic fee is $37.99 per year (currently £29.26) or $3.99 per month (£3.07)

 

The paid for accounts mention that direct linking is one of the features, but the T&C say “Changing hotlinking/embed codes is strictly prohibited. Free ImageShack accounts are not allowed to link to direct links. Circumventing ImageShacks ability to enforces it's policies on free accounts and changing linking codes may result in deletion of your content and/or account.” I assume that this is specifically aimed at free accounts only, that's why I haven't mentioned the free account as an option.

 

SmugMug

https://www.smugmug.com/

 

The basic fee is $48 per year (currently £36.97) or $5.99 per month (£4.61)

 

I assume that this site allows hotlinking, but I haven't been able to find anything which clearly states that they do. It does mention that it's possible to “Embed photos and videos on other websites”, to be honest, I'm not sure that's the same as hotlinking, but it sounds like it is. Other members have said they use Smugmug without any problems, so if your happy to pay for a host, this looks like a possibility.

 

Ipernity

http://www.ipernity.com/

The basic fee is £21.75 per year but the maximum storage space is only 5 GB – for some that may not be enough and the next upgrade is to the 'Standard' fee of £39.75. It is possible to have a free “Guest” account but the total storage is only 250 MB or 100 uploads.

 

IMPORTANT: The address bar shows that the site is 'Not secure'.


This site is like a smaller version of Flickr – intended more to show off your photos than as a host. It started in 2005 but was taken over and run by it's members in 2017.

Pros:

  • It's owned by its fee paying members, so it's unlikely to do a PhotoBucket and raise the fee to an astronomical level.

Cons:

  • I've read the terms and conditions and I'm still not sure if it allows holinking. The T&C have been translated from French and the wording is a little obscure in places.

 

 

Pinterest

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/

 

This is free to use and has been around for a while (started Jan 2010). I couldn't find anything in the terms and conditions about hotlinking but I've tried it – it does work.

Cons:

  • It's a bit of a pain to use, you can only upload one photo at a time and although it was easy to hotlink, it was quite long winded process.
  • Every time I go on, I get sidetracked and loose half a day.

Pros:

  • Free
  • Allowed to store 200,000 photos.

 

Imgur

https://imgur.com/

 

Imgur is now more of a social media site than a photo host, having originated as the photo hosting arm of reddit. Their rules on hotlinking seem to be quite vague. One site mentioned that Imgur states “While you may hotlink to images uploaded to Imgur, the service's Terms of Service forbid you explicitly from doing so” but I couldn't find that in the TOS. There are quite a few people mentioning that links are liable to break, but one of the BM members has been using Imgur for two years without problems.

 

PhotoBucket

https://photobucket.com/

The basic fee is $5.99 per month (£4.61) for up to 2,500 images (25MB)

 

Photobucket aren't particularly well thought of after they held their members photos to ransom in 2017 and demanded $399 per year. I've read that with the basic option, they will deface hosted photos with a huge watermark that hides one tenth of your photo (if you know this incorrect please let me know). They have also started to blur hosted photos if the user exceeds there allocated bandwidth. Personally, I wouldn't trust them to host a coffee morning.

 

Free Image Hosting.net

http://www.freeimagehosting.net

 

This is what is says about hotlinking “Yes, we allow "direct linking" (also referred to as "hot linking"). You are allowed to embed the images we host into your personal website. Please use the thumbnail codes for large images. Images hotlinked in popular websites may be deleted if the bandwidth usage is extreme.

 

PostImage

https://postimages.org/

 

Hotlinking appears to be allowed and it's free to use, but I've found some very poor reviews and there are several stories about users images disappearing without warning – I don't know if this is true.

 

IMGBox

https://imgbox.com/

 

This has been running for seven years so far and offers:

  • Hotlinking
  • Unlimited storage space & unlimited storage time
  • They also mention “Please note: No personal information will be sold to any third parties.”

How do they make money then? I didn't see any advertising (I run an ad blocker) so I don't know if there is any on the site.

 

Village Photos

http://village.photos/

 

IMPORTANT: The address bar of VP shows that the site is 'Not secure'.

I used VP for a couple of years but after other photo hosts started going belly-up I became concerned that I couldn't see how VP could make a profit. Recently, quite a few people have been saying that they are experiencing problems with VP and some have said that they couldn't get any response from the admin team when they asked for help. To me, that doesn't sound good. I also don't like the way the photos are ordered randomly in folders.

 

Hobbyphotohost.com

https://hobbyphotohost.com/

 

There are several levels of membership – I'll just show those that are likely to be of interest to members of this site:

FREE

  • Upload Size Limit: 4MB
  • Storage: 1000 images
  • Images Expire: After 730 days (2 years) of not being viewed
  • Max. Images Views: Unlimited
  • Watermark: Yes

BASIC £2.99/month

  • Same as 'FREE' plus;
  • Upload Size Limit: 4MB
  • Storage: 2000 images
  • Images Expire: Never
  • Watermark: No

For more information on these accounts and two other accounts, please click here.

 

This host allows hotlinking and appears to be tailor made for us, but it feels a bit amateurish. That's probably because it's run single handedly (you could argue that money isn't wasted on tarting up the design). It was started very recently by a modeller who is also a Britmodeller member (SteveR), because he was experiencing exactly the same problem of finding a host. It is a very new site – I believe it was started this summer (2019). If you would like to read what Steve said about his site, click here.

 

Their 'Pivacy Policy' states “We don’t share any personally identifying information publicly or with third-parties, except when required to by law.

 

Scalemates

https://www.scalemates.com/

 

If you only ever post work in progress or photos of your completed builds, Scalemates is a possible option. I usually hotlink from Scalemates, but only for my completed build pictures. I don't feel that this is taking advantage of the site because I only ever link to photos that I would have put on SM anyway.

 

Google Photos

https://www.google.com/photos/ (Free to use, but you will need a Google account).

From personal experience, Google Photo (GP) hotlinks eventually break. One BM member has found there is a way of making the links more secure using a work-around method, although it does involve a few additional steps.

  • On Google Photos, open the photo you want to use and click the 'Share' icon.
  • Click 'Create Link' and then 'Copy'.
  • Go tohttps://ctrlq.org/google/photos/  paste the GP link into the first box and press 'Generate Code'.
  • After a couple of seconds it will show the new code – copy the contents of the the 'Direct Link (URL)' box.
  • You just need to paste that new code into your post.

If you use a lot of photos this may be too much of a hassle to have to do for every photo, but obviously, only you can decide if you want an easier option.

 

Another possible alternative:

 

Google Blogger

https://www.blogger.com/

 

During my search I found this:  “Blogger -- Google's blog platform is just a quick sign up away. You can set up a new blog there using your Google account, and may upload the photos that you plan to display elsewhere on the Internet to it. It may not be the most straightforward way of doing this, but it has worked reliably for users for years. Other blogging platforms may allow this as well.”

 

One downside to this is that is goes on to say:  “Google Photos works as well”, but I now know that the links can break without warning. I have no idea if links from Blogger will be any more secure. @FalkeEins has said that he has been using this method for ten years or so and there have been no issues with his links.

 

After doing quite a bit of Googlising I only found positive things about using Blogger as a host. Setting up a blog is very simple: https://support.google.com/blogger/answer/1623800?hl=en

 

I found this 'how to' for using Blogger to host images: http://googleimageblog.blogspot.com/2010/04/how-to-host-images-on-blogger-blogs.html


 

NOT suitable as a photo host

 

  • Instagram (Instagram image links are designed to expire and renew after a while. It is to prevent hotlinking to their images in external websites). Please note: There is a tool which claims that it will make Instagram links secure in a similar way as I've described above with Google Photos. I haven’t test it so I can't guarantee it works.
  • Facebook (Facebook image links are designed to expire and renew after a while. It is to prevent hotlinking to their images in external websites).
  • OneDrive
  • Google Photos (Unless you 'process' the links into something more secure as described above, from my experience the links eventually break)
  • Amazon Photo (apparently it is possible to hotlink, but the tutorial I found had about thirty stages so not very practical).

 

Conclusions:

I decided to use Blogger as I feel like it's giving me more control somehow. I am concerned that Google may splat the links as they did in Google Photos, but any of the free hosts I've mentioned may either go out of business or start charging – no one knows, so I think it's worth the risk. I'm not really in the position to pay for a host at the moment and of course, the biggest problem of paying for a host, is that once you start, you have to continue to pay every year or say bye-bye to all your links forever. And prices are only ever likely to increase.

 

There are dozens of other photo hosts that I haven't mentioned, but that's part of the problem – too many are chasing too little advertising revenue. When TinyPic shut down down its image hosting service, it said “we can no longer support a free service that derives 100% of its revenue from ever declining on-site ad revenues”. So be careful if you choose a free host, as there is likely to be plenty more free sites going belly-up in the near future.

 

Please let me know if there are any other significant ones that I've missed, and if you think that any that I've mentioned have problems (with either using them, or if they are in financial difficulty). Also if there is anything I've said above that is clearly rubbish – let me know.

 

I'd be interested to hear your views. If you recommend a particular host, what makes it different to all the other hosts to make you choose it and why do you think it will survive when many aren't?

 

Thanks for having a look.

 

Please Note:

I would advise you to ALWAYS keep you're photos on your own device and do regular backups. If you entrust you're photos entirely to a photo host, you could end up loosing the lot.

 

Please remember, if you delete the photo from the host, it will also disappear from the forums it is posted on as well.

 

The above information is to help you chose a suitable photo host, please don't blame me or Britmodeller if your choice turns out to be the wrong one.

Edited by Gorby
Updated Google Photos info

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Great work Gorby!

That must have taken you quite a while but I'm sure all members will agree it was a generous and worthwhile investment.

Thanks,

Brian

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Thanks, Gorby. I use Smugmug and there is no issue with embedding/hotlinking pictures. You can size the image yourself, or choose from a variety of ready-made smaller sizes. Embedding is as easy as copy/pasting a URL from Smugmug into your post on BM.

 

best,

M.

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I've been using imageshack for a couple years or more now.  I don;t mind paying for it either its not really a lot. But have only paid £($) 18.99 !! That is until I retire... Never had any major issues and quite easy to use.

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Big thanks to Mark (@Gorby) for taking the time to do this and offer to share it with masses.  It's bound to come in really handy to new members and old alike :yes:

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4 minutes ago, bhouse said:

Any chance of pinning it, @Mike?

It's the FAQ section, so if we pinned everything nothing is effectively pinned. :blink:  If you want to refer back to it, just head over to the FAQ section or put it as a bookmark :)

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ImgBox is also good and with a really easy to read Terms of Service (a first!) which pretty much seems to ensure you keep ownership/rights of an images uploaded (unlike Facebook, instagram etc)  - handy with original artworks.

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40 minutes ago, bhouse said:

That must have taken you quite a while but I'm sure all members will agree it was a generous and worthwhile investment.

After my Google Photo experiment went belly up, I put a week aside to try and make the best and most informed decision that I could in order to find a new host. It did take me the full week, but in the process the document I did for myself (my memory isn't great, and writing it all down helps) I thought may be useful to others in a similar position – it just needed tarting up a bit.

 

I lost eight months of links but fortunately there were only three WIP that I needed to update with new links. For my RFI photos I usually use Scalemates as the host.

 

I hope the info is as useful to others as it was to me.

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Very useful, thanks @Gorby  for taking the time to compile this. I'm currently using Imgur with no problems as yet. Odd that they should forbid hot linking whilst at the same time offering the facility to bulk-generate bbcode strings for any number of images! Ah well, I'll continue to use it until they catch up with me then worry about it :)

 

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.. satisfied google blogger for the past 10 years or so..never really given much thought to the fact that I could lose my pics. Anyway, its child’s play to upload your pics, google give you the link automatically, but you’ll have to go and find it yourself in the page HTML so a bit of basic code knowledge might be required..

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Thanks, Gorby!

 

Since the Photobucket fiasco, I've been using Flickr. It works great ( it would be even better if BM let me use the EMBED option, like it used to ). I did go for the paid plan after I hit 1000 images, but the cost isn't expensive. I did briefly use Village.Photos as I was having an issue with Windows Explorer. When I switched over to Chrome, it works great bow. I have also switched my BM account to Chrome, for the same reason.

 

 

 

Chris

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8 hours ago, FalkeEins said:

satisfied google blogger for the past 10 years or so.

Now that's fantastic news! After my Google Photo debacle I was a bit wary of Blogger, so thanks for letting me know that all is well with yours after a decade.

To copy the link I've just been right-clicking on the photo and pasting it wherever so I haven't needed to learn any code, which is just as well as I've had enough of learning code.

 

Thanks everyone for taking the time to read through this lot and comment.

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7 hours ago, Gorby said:

 

To copy the link I've just been right-clicking on the photo and pasting it wherever so I haven't needed to learn any code

 

..yep, that works well..- been using it all this time the 'hard' way. 

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Thanks for mentioning my site @Gorby

HobbyPhotoHost is 100% free. You can upload photos from Desktop or Mobile up to 4MB per file. There are options to upgrade your account for a small subscription, but the free service is all most people would ever want/need. A subscription service just increases the maximum upload size, allows you to keep images private, remove watermarks as well as a few other things it allows you to add your own watermarks. But if all you want to do is share an image, there's no charge. Obviously, subscriptions help to fund the server, offsetting the free users.

 

The site is new(ish), but I have nearly 20 years experience in PHP, CGI/Perl and web development and developed the whole thing by myself from scratch. While I don't have the power and resources of huge established companies you get a personal service and direct contact with the developer/owner, me :) and I'm always open to suggestions.

 

Thanks!

 

PS. There are no adverts on HobbyPhotoHost... none at all!

Edited by SteveR

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13 minutes ago, SteveR said:

Thanks for mentioning my site

Excellent, I'm glad you're here to join the discussion Steve.

If it's possible to make images private that would explain why I couldn't find more photos on your site.

If you let me know what the subscription fee is, I could update the information in the main post. 

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Thanks @Gorby
The lack of images on the site isn't really because many are private... it's simply because the site is new-ish and I've only mentioned and used it here on these forums. So there arent many users yet! 

 

Here are the different available accounts.

 

FREE
£0/month

  • Upload Size Limit: 4MB
  • Storage: 1000 images
  • Images Expire: After 730 days (2 years) of not being viewed
  • Max. Images Views: Unlimited
  • Watermark: Yes
  • Disable Auto-Resize: No
  • Image rotation (JPG & PNG)
  • Image Tags & Titles
  • Supports: JPG, PNG

BASIC
£2.99/month

Same as 'FREE' plus;

  • Upload Size Limit: 4MB
  • Storage: 2000 images
  • Images Expire: Never
  • Watermark: No
  • Disable Auto-Resize: Yes
  • Supports: GIF, JPG, PNG

STANDARD
£4.99/month

Same as 'BASIC' plus;

  • Upload Size Limit: 5MB
  • Storage: Unlimited*
  • Custom Text Watermark
  • Custom Image Watermark
  • Hidden Uploads (on this site)

PREMIUM
£9.99/month

Same as 'STANDARD' plus;

  • Upload Size Limit: 6MB

 

* Subject to 'Fair Use Policy'

 

 

Edited by SteveR

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Thanks for the information @SteveR, I've updated the original post.

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On 11/11/2019 at 11:02 AM, Gorby said:

There are quite a few people mentioning that links are liable to break, but I don't have any evidence if this is correct.

Ive been using Imgur for two years with no issues yet. I don't think I'm shy at the numbers of photo’s I've uploaded either. 
 

Dennis

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9 hours ago, Corsairfoxfouruncle said:

Ive been using Imgur for two years with no issues yet.

Thanks for letting me know Dennis. I've updated the main post.

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I can confirm that smugmug allows hotlinking. I use smugmug - switched there after the photochuckit debacle. I have been very satisfied with smugmug, and all my photos are hotlinked from there. 👍

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1 hour ago, Gary Brantley said:

Good job Gorby!   Thanks for exploring the options! 🍺

Thanks Gary. :thumbsup2:

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Thanks for the research and compilation @Gorby. Regarding Google Photos, that's what I've been using, but embedding images in an alternate way. Did you link directly to the image from within Google Photos? There is this website that will parse out the embedding url for the image, https://ctrlq.org/google/photos/. It is a little bit of work in that you have to run each image you want to upload through this site to generate the image URL, but I'm going to be using this until it screws up on me - like you said any other free option could break or shutdown services for any reason, and I like the ease of the Google albums, and that it's one less account for me to worry about.

 

Just a note if anyone else tries this route - the very end of the embedding link will be ".... w2400". The 2400 represents pixel width of the image. I change this to something more suitable, 880 (which is what I generate my images files at). 

 

Also worth mentioning about Google Photos in general: by default photos uploaded to Google Photos are downsized. The way they do it really degrades the quality. I actually just found this out yesterday when I some of my photos were showing some really bad artifacting. After some investigation, there is a setting to keep your uploaded photos in their original quality, but they count against your 15GB data cap (if you keep the "let Google downsize my photo" option, you get unlimited photo storage). I optimize my photos to a reasonable quality/file size from Lightroom, so I can control it instead of letting Google do it. And 15GB... it'll take a whole lot of 125kb photos to reach that.  

 

If this system ever breaks I'll come back in and post an update. 

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Thanks for your reply @Shin. I started using Google Photos as a host as a sort of experiment to start with. I was told that it wasn't suitable as a host and I wanted to find out why. It took eight months for the links to fail and by that point I'd forgotten that it was an experiment and was using it as a full blown host. Yes I was just linking directly from Google Photos as I've never heard of the option you use. Could you please tell me how long you have been using Ctrlq.org for your photos? I notice that they also do something similar for 'Instagram'.

It definitely sounds like and option that would be worth including in the photo host information, so thanks for taking the time to let us know about it.

 

Just testing this method:

G-lVIuzHKef3s3XVCR-QaMRrxTKVRPep-MBBfcoz

Edited by Gorby

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