What is an external image?

Also known as a linked image, an external image is an image or graphic that a website accesses and displays from another server or different domain. An external image contrasts with a local or internal image, which is an image located on the same server as the main site files. Some webmasters link to external images to reduce hosting costs or to organize web file types on different servers.

External images can be accessed from the address bar of a web browser.

A server is a machine that provides data to other computers. On the web, a server contains information about the website, which a user can access by entering the web address in the address bar of a web browser. Generally, external images are used by webmasters and web designers who create websites made with images located on a server other than the server that hosts the hypertext markup language (HTML) code that shapes the website. Some websites use a separate domain and server to keep website data separate from HTML files.

Linking to external images can be an issue for some sites that host images. Webmasters on other sites can program their sites to display images from the original site on which it is hosted. This means of displaying images is often frowned upon because the linked website is displaying content that does not belong to the website and is essentially stealing bandwidth from the website where the image is hosted.

When a site uses external images without permission, the webmaster of the linked site does not have to pay to host the image, but the site that originally hosted the image may have to pay extra fees for the web data, called bandwidth, that the site linked visitors used. Most hosting sites prefer that the linked sites ask for permission to use an external link or host the image on their own servers. To prevent nasty webmasters from stealing bandwidth by displaying an external image, some hosts use server programs that disable displaying images on external websites, often replacing the original linked image with another reprimanding the webmaster for linking or forwarding the viewer to the original site to get the image.

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Low budget webmasters can use external image links to save money on hosting services by hosting photos on a free photo hosting site. Often, free web hosting has limits on the amount of data, including photos, movies, and HTML files, that a user can upload to their server. When a webmaster runs out of space on a server, hosting images off-site, whether on another free site or a free photo hosting service, can ethically extend the webmaster’s available web space.

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