Last changed 10 July 2017 17:55 MDT
Greetings. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably noticed a problem with Photobucket.
Here’s the thing. Photobucket is a company which needs to cover its costs and make a profit. They tried using ads, but when you embed an image in another site, they get no visits, therefore no ad views. Did they make this change using the best way possible? I’d say “Not so much.” But they didn’t ask me. Oh well.
There’s a way to deal with this. Note that this method will not fix your existing links, but it will enable future links to be more reliable. It’ll cost around $100/year. Hey, you want reliability, you have to cover the costs. If you’re still interested, keep reading.
Yes, I said it: paid hosting. What am I talking about?? If you want reliability, you have to pay for it. Free hosting, as you’ve found out on Photobucket, is not a good long term plan. What I’m talking about will give you more control.
You’ll need two things: a host and a domain name. Oh, three things: roughly $100/year. That will cover 1 year of hosting and 1 year of a domain name pointing to your hosting. What am I talking about?? What is “hosting;” and what is a “domain name”? Okay, let’s define our terms:
|hosting:||a host is a server, or part of a server, on which you can place your files. It costs something. There are a number of possible hosting services, such as Dreamhost and 1&1. I’ll be talking about Dreamhost, as that’s what I use and therefore can describe how to use it, which is a large part of the point of this web page.|
|domain name:||a domain name is the name you give your site, to make it easier to access. While you can use the IP address of the site, like 192.168.17.45, that's tougher than using a domain name like shubs.net (mine!) or google.com (not mine!).|
|server:||a server is an actual machine that exists somewhere. It’s a computer, often shaped like a pizza box (flat-ish), that someone else is providing rack space for in their data center. They”re providing power and a data connection. They’re providing storage space. Most important, they’re providing system management, so their clients (you!) don’t have to. You don’t need to know the details of how that works, but they’re providing a lot of service behind the scenes to keep your data on the Net. It’s not trivial, and there’re actual humans doing it.|
Paying for hosting means you're paying for the humans doing the work, the computer processing requests, the storage space, the Network bandwidth, the electricity, and other services needed to keep the computer running properly, like air conditioning. A hot computer fails faster, and we don’t want that!
I’m going to try to keep this as non-technical as I can, but there will be some parts where you’ll need to learn a few things, like the terms I listed above. Don’t be scared. There are always sources of information you can search for which will go into more detail than I hope to have to.
As I said above, while there are many hosting services, like 1&1 and Rackspace, I’m going to concentrate on Dreamhost, because I currently use it.
I’m going to go with certain basic assumptions: you get the domain name from the same place as you get your hosting, so we don't need to coordinate the two. Keeping it as simple as I can will save time and confusion, I hope.
So there you are on Dreamhost’s main web page. The first thing you’ll do is find yourself a domain name.
Your domain name can be anything no one else is using. It might be your name, or something else that you want to use to name your site. Note: we’re not going to create an actual website here. The idea is to replace Photobucket, so all I’m going to cover is the basic requirements for getting set up and serving the files you want to embed somewhere. Creating a website is beyond the scope of this page.
Let’s say your name is George Smittee, so we’ll start by trying to get the domain name smittee.com. Plug that into the Dreamhost home page. The website looks at the Net to see if that domain name is available. It’s not. Dang. Dreamhost suggests variations on what you gave it.
The variations use “smittee” as a starting point, but they replace “.com” with other Top Level Domains (TLDs). There are a lot of these, but the oldest you can use are .com, .net, and .org. These also tend to be the cheapest. Other TLDs like .xyz and .space are new and their pricing is varying a lot as their owners work to attract domain name buyers. Best to skip them for now, unless you have your heart set on one. Note that once you pick one of these, if the pricing changes you’ll be stuck paying it unless you want to change all your embedded links. Again.
The other side of that is that while you might spend some time looking for an available domain name in .com, since it's been around a long time and is therefore crowded, something in one of the newer TLDs like .blog might be easier to get, as there are fewer domains there. Look at the prices and purchase the one you want from the suggestions, or start over. “georgesmittee.com” might be available. Or maybe use .name. Or just pick something completely unrelated. Short domain names will be nearly impossible to get in .com/.net/.org, so if you insist on short names, pick a different TLD.
Once you’ve found a domain name you can use, buy it. To do this, you’ll create an account with Dreamhost, with a username and password. You’ll give them a credit card or some other kind of payment. And then you’ll have your very own domain name. Let’s say you bought example.com (not actually available, but intended for use in situations like this web page).
So now you’ve got a domain name. It’s there, it’ll take some time for the servers in the Net to know it’s there, so not all of them will know about it right away. That can take minutes to days.
But it’s not associated with anything. You can’t do anything with it yet. That’s the next step.
Dreamhost will offer to host your domain name. Do this. They’ll offer prices and durations, like 1 or 2 years. Buy as much as you want for now. You can add more time later.
It’ll take a few minutes to get the hosting set up. Once you receive an e-mail saying it’s ready, we can proceed.
How you log in depends on how you want to put files in your space. I recommend FTP. File Transfer Program does what it says on the label. There are many FTP clients (programs) which do this, so you’ll need to find one for your computer. I use Interarchy on the Macintosh, but there are others on the Mac, and many for Windows. I won’t be able to instruct you on the program you select.
Once you’ve connected to your hosting, you’ll see a directory which contains, among other things, your domain name. It’s a directory. Go inside it.
There is likely to be a file in your domain’s directory called “index.html”. That’s the web page representing your domain. It’s what people will see if they go to your domain using a web browser. As I said above, the contents of that file are beyond the scope of this web page. You’re welcome to play with it, but it’s not relevant to replacing Photobucket. Let’s stay focused, here.
Using your FTP client, you can place files in this directory. Let’s say you have a file called “image.jpg” you wish to embed somewhere. You can place image.jpg in the same directory as index.html. Once you’ve done this, you can find it on the Web using your domain: http://example.com/image.jpg.
You can put lots of files in this directory. You can create subdirectories for your own purposes of organization. If you do that, you’ll access the files there like http://example.com/subdirectory/someotherfile.jpg.
And that’s all she wrote. You’ve got a place to serve your files. You’ve replaced Photobucket. Enjoy.
If you have questions, please mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll get back to you as I can.