photographer holding camera

To Host or Not To Host That is the Image Hosting Question

Updated August 14, 2018

 

Image hosting isn’t right for everyone.  In fact, it’s completely wrong for some.  Knowing whether or not you want to host your own images boils down to a few simple decisions.  This post answers the question – to host or not to host your own images?  Image hosting pro’s and con’s could fill a bookshelf, but the below are the essence of why most people go down one route or the other.

 

Image hosting is a very simple idea. An image that you see appear online can either be hosted by the owner of the image, or the hosting of that image can be outsourced to a third party. What that means in practice, generally speaking, is whether the image is going to be hosted on your server or are you going to employ someone else to host it on theirs.

 

That’s a simplistic view of it, but it’s enough to give you the general understanding of what image hosting is.

 

There are a number of image hosting pros and cons for you to consider however when you’re deciding what is going to work best for you. It’s important to know that this is not a situation where there’s anything approaching a “right” or “wrong” answer. There is only what’s right for you and what’s not right for you.

 

The benefits outweigh the drawbacks quite considerable when it comes to hosting your images through a third party, however here are two pros followed by two cons.

 

Image Hosting Pro’s and Con’s

 

PRO #1:  Convenience

 

maintenance

 

It’s much more convenient for you to be able to host your image with a third party who specialises in image hosting services, and there are a few different reasons why this is the case.

 

The first is that the image becomes “their problem” so to speak. You’ve employed them to host that image for you, and now it’s their responsibility to do just that, which means you don’t need to worry about establishing and maintaining that image as a part of your server.

 

Servers themselves require a considerable amount of work, maintenance, and resources to run efficiently. If you have a small business or you’re just going to host the image as a part of your hobby, you may well consider the investment required to establish and run the server is more than you’re willing to accept.

 

With image hosting services, however, you make the most of their server, which is going to be kept running optimally and likely will be as modern as possible. All of which you get a more reliable image hosting service without any of the headaches.

 

PRO #2:  Experience

 

experience

 

Image hosting services go to great lengths to make the process as simple and as easy as possible for you. All you need to do is provide them with the image you want them to host for you, and they will do the rest. It really is as simple as that.

 

Everything requires the investment of time to learn how to do properly, and image hosting is no different. Image hosting specialists will already have the necessary knowledge to host the image safely and reliably and you will have the opportunity to make the most of that without any sort of need to make that time investment yourself.

 

All of this frees you up your attention to better focus on other things.

 

Now, a couple of drawbacks.

 

CON #1:  Cost

 

costs

 

Many image hosting websites for personal use offer their services free of charge, some of them don’t even require you to create an account in order to host the image. This may seem tempting to small businesses looking to cut costs wherever possible.

 

It’s not advisable, however. Image hosting is an investment, albeit a very small one, but when you pay for image hosting services with a professional supplier you’re getting access to a host of benefits that you simply don’t when you choose to use a service that doesn’t charge.

 

Shared hosting can be one of the most cost effective options for image hosting.

 

In many cases, you will get faster and more reliable servers with a paid image hosting service. If you run a website that’s essential because you can’t afford to have the server your image is hosted on crashing every five seconds because it’s not fit for purpose or because it has been overloaded.

 

You also get a degree of support, which means that if you encounter any issues you always have someone on the end of the phone or the other end of an email to help you through the situation.

 

CON #2:  Complexity

 

complexity

 

With image hosting, you’re basically bringing another person into the chain, which always runs the risk of making things more complicated. This means that you have to send the image you want to be hosted to someone else, who then will host it for you, rather than just choosing the image and hosting it yourself.

 

There’s also the risk that a server may need maintenance or may go down, in which case your image may become temporarily unusable. Most companies schedule maintenance for times when there will be the minimal possible intrusion, and maintenance is necessary, but accidents always happen.

 

Think though, a server you run could also go down. The reality of it is that the image hosting specialists will have their servers back up and running long before you likely could yourself.

 

Conclusions

 

We’ve not discussed a number of more complicated factors like the positive gains that can be had by loading images from a different domain than the one with the rest of your files (parallel transfer = FAST).  However, the above should make clear enough the point that if you want it quick and easy, and don’t mind paying a small fee, there’s some nice benefits to be had by hosting your images on a 3rd part image hosting website.  If you’d rather have more control, and spend less, then hosting yourself is a good option.

 

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