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Benefits and drawbacks of self-hosting photos vs remote hosting

4:50 pm on May 13, 2014 (gmt 0)

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joined:Aug 20, 2013
posts: 9
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I'm considering disabling the code allowing users to display remote images in our community, forcing them to upload images to our server, and I'd like to discuss the benefits and the drawbacks. We currently have around 35k members on a dedicated server, with plenty of space to spare. If it provides the end user a better experience, I'll gladly pay more for the increased storage space (though at this time we have plenty).

Anyone care to contribute their ideas, comments, suggestions, etc?

- Ease Of Use - One option means it'd be easier train everyone to use our upload feature.
- No Broken Links - When someone closes an image hosting account or loses hosting, our links remain intact.

- Increased Expense - Hard drive space costs money.
- Potential For Malware - I'm not sure this is even an issue, considering we're not choosing between the two options. Member uploads would remain enabled regardless.
6:21 pm on May 13, 2014 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator engine is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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The first thing that springs to mind is the possibility of abuse. ie, uploading images that are illegal, promotional, or otherwise. Do they own the copyright to the image, and if so, what system do you have in place should you recieve a request to remove the image, for whatever reason, and from whatever source. eg, the user or law enforcement wants it removed.
3:54 am on May 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

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On my forum being able to see the issue is important in lot of cases so the upload feature is really popular. I prefer they upload because inevitably the linked image dies.

As far as the file size goes I allow up 5MB images of any dimensions only because the server was choking on resizing anything larger. I need to increase it because circumstances have changed. I resize them to maximum of 1200px either height or width, whichever is greater and set the quality to 75%. The resized versions are about 220KB's. I have about 13 or 14 GB's of files that were uploaded, it would easily be 200 or 300 if I wasn't resizing them.

Typical image from a camera is going to be many MP's with 90 to 100% quality setting which are huge in file size. I do have an option for .tiff images up to 50MB that are not resized but it's clearly marked only for images that need high resolution.
6:37 am on May 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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inevitably the linked image dies

Or it doesn't work for anyone other than the person who posted it in the first place, because it's got hotlink protection. (I've learned by experience that if I'm posting a link to an image not my own, the first step is to try the link in a different browser-- one that doesn't have cookies from that site, and doesn't have the image in its cache. If you get the hotlink message, it means the site didn't want you to link to it. And it's cheating to include instructions for pasting the URL directly into your address bar ;))

Like it or not, there are still plenty of humans on dialup. And plenty more whose only option is satellite. So filesize is just as much an issue as physical image size. The latter is trivial to change, while the former means your server has to do work. Or you could force your users to do the work by saying that images must be hosted on your site, and they can't be larger than so-and-so-many K. People are used to these kinds of limitations for avatars and signatures. Just point them to some free image editors. A 5MB image is not necessary unless you've got a Get Your Free Wallpaper Here site.

Come to think of it, on another forum I once had to post a step-by-step How To on posting images. Beginning with: "The image has to live somewhere. It can't be on your own computer." (Major conceptual step right there!) That's what happens when a site doesn't do its own hosting.

<topic drift>
It would occasionally be useful if WebmasterWorld could host screenshots. Then you'd know they will still be there next week, month, year.
</topic drift>

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