Preventing Bandwidth Theft in cPanel with HotLink Protection

It takes a lot of time and effort to correctly build a website, and finding out that someone is undermining your hard work simply by stealing bandwidth from your web server can be a very frustrating experience. Of course, you’ll want to do everything in your power to prevent such an occurrence, as it can greatly impact the efficiency and overall performance of your website. One way to keep bandwidth thieves from stealing the server resources that you pay for is by using HotLink protection in cPanel.

What is HotLink Protection?

Usually, when someone is stealing your bandwidth, they are doing so simply by HotLinking an image  from your site. With HotLink protection, you can prevent other webmasters from using your bandwidth by Hotlinking. It does this by replacing the desired image with the image of your choice. For example, you can have it display an image that states something like “ This image belongs to another site “your site”, please visit “your site’s” to see the original image.” This will redirect the viewer to your site, not only gaining you more traffic, but also keeping your bandwidth usage in check.

Try Asking First

Instead of using the Hotlink protection outlined below, you could also try emailing the webmaster to see if they will cooperate. If they don’t cooperate, or send you a nasty email in response, you could always place a defacing or irrelevant image in place of the image they are HotLinking from your site. That way their visitors will be less inclined to visit their site again. However you decide to use it, the HotLink protection tool in cPanel will let you control the Hotlinking that goes on with your images.

Uploading Your Replacement Image

To begin setting up protection, simply click on the HotLink icon in your cPanel main interface. Usually the protection will be disabled by default. First we are going to upload the image that we would like to replace the bandwidth thieves image with. We need to upload it to another domain or image hosting service, since it will not be displayed if it is on our server, since our HotLink protection (once activated) will prevent any image on our server from being displayed. Try hosting the replacement image on a free image hosting service online. Make sure your image is viewable before proceeding to the following step.

Setting Up HotLink Protection

The first thing you want to do after you have enabled Hotlink Protection, is add the site that you would like to allow HotLinking to, such as your partner sites or your other domains. Now that you have done this, you’ll need to enter the URL of the replacement image that we uploaded in the last step. Then check the box that says “Allow Direct Requests.” Checking this option will let you HotLink to your own images without problems. Finally click on the “Activate” button. If you did everything correctly, you will see a message that tells you HotLinking protection is active.


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