Photobucket disabled the third-party hosting of images functionality of the site recently which had been a part of it for years.
Internet users who used Photobucket for that, that is store their images so that they can embed them on other sites, were asked to pay $399 per year, or $39.99 per month, to reactivate the functionality.
This was done with barely any advanced warning that this would happen, and the replacing of all images on third-party sites with a dummy image asking users to become a Plus 500 subscriber to restore the hotlinking functionality.
I'm going to list several Photobucket alternatives in this article that users affected by the move, and Internet users who are looking for reliable image hosting with hotlinking functionality have.
You have plenty of options when it comes to services that provide you with options to hotlink your images.
There are a couple of things you need to be aware of before you select the next best offer though:
- Some services may allow hotlinking of images, but they Terms of Service gives them the right to terminate your account at any time if they find that you use this excessively (read: you cost them too much).
- Other services may be owned by a larger service. This is for instance the case for TinyPic which is owned by Photobucket.
- Some image hosting sites are quite catastrophic when it comes to advertisement. A user clicking on your image may be directed to a page filled with advertisement. These are often low quality ads, or worse.
As far as alternatives are concerned, there are three groups that you may pick one from:
- Image hosting sites -- These sites are designed for image hosting on the Internet. They work similar to Photobucket.
- Services that allow you to upload files, and link to them -- These services may not be designed specifically for the embedding of images, but they support it.
- Web space -- Your own private website or server that you use for hosting and embedding of images.
The first two groups may allow you to hotlink to images right now, but they may have a change of heart (or policy) at any time in the future. The advantage of the third group is that you are in control, but that you have to pay for that.
Photobucket Image Hosting site alternatives
- Cubeupload -- A free image hosting service that does not require an account for use. It uses a donation-based system for keeping the service up and running.
- Flickr -- While Flickr's future is not clear right now, with the purchase of Yahoo by Verizon, it allows you to host your uploaded images elsewhere provided that you link back to Flickr. Also, may not be used as a content distribution network for websites or applications.
- 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.
- Imgur (but only with the Embed option) -- Imgur is named as an alternative whenever it comes to image hosting services on the Internet. While you may hotlink to images uploaded to Imgur, the service's Terms of Service forbid you explicitly from doing so. What it allows is to use the embed feature, but this may not work in many cases. Also this which does not bode well.
- Don't hotlink to adult content or to file-sharing, gambling, torrent, warez, or Imgur rip-off sites. Don't impersonate someone else. Also, don't use Imgur to host image libraries you link to from elsewhere, content for your website, advertising, avatars, or anything else that turns us into your content delivery network
- VGY -- A free image hosting service that requires no account. You can upload the image directly to the service, and get some embed codes and the direct URL to the image displayed on the next screen automatically.
Other services that you may use
While it would go too far to list dozens of services that provide you with image hosting and linking functionality, I'd like to highlight some of the options to you.
These are all free at the time of writing:
- 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. Google Photos works as well, but it is not super intuitive and requires that you copy the direct link to the photo.
- GitHub -- GitHub is designed for project hosting. Anyone can create an account, and you may upload files to the service. GitHub may suspend accounts or throttle them if they find that it requires excessive bandwidth.
- If we determine your bandwidth usage to be significantly excessive in relation to other GitHub customers, we reserve the right to suspend your account or throttle your file hosting until you can reduce your bandwidth consumption.
Your own web space
If you want full control, you may have to pay a couple of bucks for that. If you have a website or server already, you may use it to host your images, and hotlink to them.
The core benefit here is that you control the storage. You may delete images, modify them, prevent certain sites from linking to them, and so on.
The disadvantage is that you have to pay for that, and that there is a setup period involved usually.
Here are a few options:
- Amazon S3 -- Amazon AWS has a free tier that is good for 5 Gigabytes of storage, 15 Gigabytes of data transfer each month, and 20000 get requests. It gets quite expensive though when you leave the free tier, as you pay $0.090 per Gigabyte. The offer is free for the first 12 months only.
- VPS Servers -- A VPS is a virtual server that starts at a couple of bucks per month. You can grab a 10 GB Storage VPS with unlimited traffic from OVH for $2.99 per month for instance.
Now You: Do you use another alternative? Feel free to share it in the comments below.