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Hotlinking Photo Host Choices


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I've updated and expanded the information from when I originally posted this in case it will of use to someone.

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 2020, 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/

It isn't easy keeping up with or making sense of Flickr's pricing, so please check yourself. I believe these prices are correct as of Jan 21 2020, but as Smugmug have said that Flickr is running at a loss, I wouldn't be surprised if the prices will eventually match those of Smugmug. There doesn't seem to be a 'one price fits all counties' policy so I've shown the fee for Britain, although some British users are charged the US price (charging their credit card in dollars at the current exchange rate).

It is currently possible to host 1000 photos free, but as they are now owned by Smugmug (who scrapped their own free account option) this may not last forever.

The Annual account fee is £55.92 per year (£4.66 per month billed annually).

The Monthly account fee is £6.49.

Flickr Terms and conditions are particularly long and written in very dull legalese :sleeping:, but these are the items that jumped out at me:

'You authorize SmugMug to collect, use, disclose and otherwise process information about you as set forth in our Privacy Policy.' When I read though the privacy policy, the data they collect is pretty much everything they can. Living in the UK or the EU you can contact them to opt out of data collecting, but good luck with that.

They state that although you retain the ownership of your photos 'by uploading and/or posting any User Content to the Services, you request, and grant SmugMug a perpetual, nonexclusive and royalty-free right to use the User Content'! Basically they can use your photos however they want, without payment.

SmugMug

https://www.smugmug.com/

The basic fee is $66 per year (currently £50.58) or $8.40 per month (£6.44)

Incidentally, the fee increased by 33% from November 2019 to November 2020.

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. I haven't read through all the T&C but I assume they are similar to Flickr as they are the same company.

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.

Ipernity

http://www.ipernity.com/

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

The basic fee is £19.90 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 £37.90. It is possible to have a free “Guest” account but the total storage is only 250 MB or 100 uploads.

Incidentally, both the fees shown above went DOWN by £1.85 from November 2019 to November 2020!
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.

 

Piwigo

http://piwigo.com/

Please Note: The address bar of VP shows that the site is 'Not secure'. Although some major companies use this service, so they must be okay with that.

The fee for an individual (as opposed to a company) is €39 per year (currently £35.04) This allows unlimited storage.

There is also options to pay for more than one year at a time, the 3 year option brings the annual price down to £26.55. This is a link to the pricing options – just click on 'Individual' rather than 'Enterprise'.

It's an open source photo host and has been around since 2002. There are two possible ways of using Piwigo:

  • you can have a (paid) account for them to host your photos as with other photo hosts.

  • Or you can download their software and install it on your own (hosted) server (providing your host allows enough space and bandwidth and allows running PHP and a mySQL database). You would basically be running your own local copy of Piwigo on a hosted webserver.

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 HOSTS

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 and 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 T&C. There are quite a few people mentioning that links are liable to break, but someone I know has been using Imgur for two years without problems.

Microsoft OneDrive

https://onedrive.live.com/about/en-US/

The free plan allows up to 5GB which should be enough for most people.

If you need more space and are willing to pay, the 100GB plan currently costs $1.99 per month (£1.54).

To use OneDrive:

  1. Navigate to the folder where you keep your pictures.

  2. Click on the 'select' button in the top right corner of picture you want to link. It should get a tick.

  3. Select 'Embed' from the menu at the top of the OneDrive Window. Depending on your screen size and the size of the browser window you are using, it might be hiding under the '...' menu option.

  4. A window will pop out on the right hand side. Choose the size you want (I recommend 1024px).

  5. A complicated URL string will appear in the box under the 'Image Size' selector. It will probably already have the URL highlighted, but if it doesn't just select it all.

  6. Copy it (Right-click gives you a short cut menu).

  7. Paste the URL into your BrexitModeller post. All things being equal, it should magically convert itself into a picture a few milliseconds later.

Please Note: If you have (or thinking of getting) 'Microsoft Office 365 Home (6 users version)', in addition there is 1TB Onedrive storage for each of the six users included in the price. The official price is currently £79.99 per year, but at the moment it's £59.99 on Amazon. Please check before you buy, but some of these packages also include McAfee or Kaspersky virus protection. The single user 'Office 365 Personal' also offers 1TB Onedrive space and is slightly cheaper.

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/

Please Note: The address bar of VP shows that the site is 'Not secure'. *

* Some Windows users have said that the site is now secure - but when I log in it still says '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

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 because he was experiencing exactly the same problem of finding a host. It is a very new site – It was started in summer 2019.

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. 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 to https://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.

Other possible alternatives:

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. I know someone who 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

Renting space on a server.

Using a photo host is basically storing your photos on their server, although you may need to have more than basic technical knowledge, it's possible to rent space on any server to do the same thing. There are too many possibilities for me to start listing them, but https://www.fasthosts.co.uk/web-hosting is an example of what I'm talking about.

Prices will vary considerably, but if you choose to have a look at Fasthost, remember to swap the pricing to include VAT (on the top bar).

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 images in external websites.

  • Google Photos - Unless you 'process' the links into something more secure as described above, from my experience the links eventually break

  • Amazon Photo – I'm not really sure about this one. I've managed to do it but others have said that it doesn't work for them – and I've no idea if the links will be permanent.


 

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:

The services, prices and the terms & conditions of the sites I've mentioned above, change constantly. Before you sign up for any of them, please take the time to review the information yourself.

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 this site if your choice turns out to be the wrong one.

Edited by Gorby
Updated prices
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Very nicely done there Gorbs. :thumbsup:

May I offer a simpler idea and one that doesn't even need the use of a photo host... 

You take photos with your phone, or camera, and then i'm assuming, like me, you store them in folders on your PC, laptop etc.

Ok then, have a look underneath this post, where you usually reply to a post. on the left hand side, in the grey stripe, it says 'Drag files here to attach or choose files. 

click on choose files

that takes you to your menu side bar where you choose desktop etc.

find your file, choose your picture and then click open 

A new thingie will open up underneath that says uploaded images, with the picture you chose.

then just click on the picture and wallah, its embedded in the post :) 

No need for any photo hosting site :) 

It works on my PC, but then I live in the twilight zone and before you ask, no,i have no idea why it wont work on your PC :) 

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?????????????

I can't see anything on the left hand side (I even double checked my gloves – the ones with the L and the R on the back). This is a screen shot:

0d1f1e3fbb0953d8f874bbc241f6defa.png

Am I doing something wrong?

To be honest, I'm not entirely sure what the thing I've circled in red does.

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41 minutes ago, Gorby said:

Okay, I'm gonna screem and screem till I'm sick or until someone tells me why you've got one and I haven't. :sad:

I don't know, its just there.... 

It is the same as on the (whispered voice) 'other place' :) 

But as a show of solidarity I promise I shall not look at it until further notice or until someone slaps me on me head and tells me to stop being silly :) 

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22 hours ago, beowulf said:

ive been using servimg.com til i find a better one

Thanks for you reply.

I've just been reading up about servimg.com and it's quite an unusual one. There isn't a lot of information on the site itself but I found a tutorial that saysIt is not possible to create an account on Servimg directly, as this hosting service is only for Forumotion forums users.

Apparently there is also a paid for 'Pro' account, but I haven't been able to find how you get to it and I can't find the fees anywhere. Is this something you can see when you set up a free account?

I don't really understand some of the features that servimg.com offers such as, it says that the free version hosts up to 3 images simultaneously (pro version 25 images) any idea what that means?

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3 hours ago, Gorby said:

Thanks for you reply.

I've just been reading up about servimg.com and it's quite an unusual one. There isn't a lot of information on the site itself but I found a tutorial that saysIt is not possible to create an account on Servimg directly, as this hosting service is only for Forumotion forums users.

Apparently there is also a paid for 'Pro' account, but I haven't been able to find how you get to it and I can't find the fees anywhere. Is this something you can see when you set up a free account?

I don't really understand some of the features that servimg.com offers such as, it says that the free version hosts up to 3 images simultaneously (pro version 25 images) any idea what that means?

it means you can upload 3 pics at once......never tried it mind you, its not the best ive ever used but it works and thats the main thing at the minute

 

i created an account in the usual way

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  • 10 months later...

I have been using Flickr for over ten years now - Yahoo made a complete mess of it and ran it into the ground (like most of the things that Yahoo touched with their filthy money-grubbing paws). Possibly the worst thing that they did was give accounts ‘unlimited’ uploads, thus severely undermining the ‘pro’ subscription. (Because of a decade’s worth o’ use, I have a silly number of photos up there.)

Then SmugMug bought Flickr off Yahoo and tried to repair some the damage. Unfortunately, that also included changing ‘unlimited’ uploads to 1000 files in free accounts - and they doubled (or more) the Pro subscription fee (about which latter I am not at all happy).

They also moved the entire site onto AWS as the hosting service. The ratinale os to return it to a site for photographer, not link hosts (it’s the latter that I have always used it for - the other reason was so that family interstate could see what I was up to (being a total ****book avoider), but that fell flat on its face).

I haven’t looked for a replacement as redoing the links on all five forums that I post(ed) to is completely impracticable.

Sorry that I haven’t got a solution, just my own experiences. I dare say that forums, hosting sites and the entire internet are Abominations unto Nuggan. No easy solution I fear.

Initially posted to Rory’s query thread here (just to complete the loop).

Edited by Dr Loopy
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What's missing from the list is selfhosting - either pay for some webspace, and upload photos there or just host them yourself.

I've got a QNAP NAS hosting my photos now - it's as easy as me copying them to a specific directory, and then they are available to the world, but only via direct link. Have my own SSL certificate, and easy to manage, just takes a bit of setting up initially.

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1 hour ago, Peter Marshall said:

What's missing from the list is selfhosting - either pay for some webspace, and upload photos there or just host them yourself.

That was suggested on 'the other place' and obviously it's a good option if you know what you're doing. I just wanted to keep the options simple as the vast majority who need the information above, don't want the hassle of faffing about with what they might see as technical stuff. Google Blogger appears to be an idea solution for me and it's pretty much the same as just using someone else's server as a host, with the advantage that currently it's free.

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On 26/10/2019 at 16:35, Mad Steve said:

But as a show of solidarity I promise I shall not look at it until further notice or until someone slaps me on me head and tells me to stop being silly :) 

SLAP!!!!!

STOP being silly(there you go Mad).

I use postimage since the great Photobucket debacle.

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After the Farcebucket debacle I was weighing up options and thought about self-hosting, but as I already had a Flickr account went back to that and stuck with it even after I exceeded the freespace and had to switch to Flickr Pro. Currently it costs less than a pound a week, not exactly bank breaking.

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