We all have heard “A picture is worth a thousand words.” it’s more exciting when you know how to express your thoughts using images in your content. Images can explain challenging concepts, help us learn, grab attention quicker than text contents, and inspire.
In this post, we will discuss how you can host website images on a standalone server or using any third-party image hosting services without conceding the image delivery performance. But before we go through the options, let’s find out the positive impact of images on your page.
Why Do Images Improve Engagements?
We love visual representation because our brain is well designed to process visuals and recognize them more precisely than text-based content. Our love of image lies within our insight and strong ability to map a visual structure to digest the idea behind it.
Images easily draw people’s mind towards them. Creative images that sync well with the theoretical idea and catchy color combination can grab the reader’s attention pretty quickly. Bright colors captivate our attention because our brains are wired to react to them.
Think about this page. Did you look at the words first, or the image?
Images are a great medium to link up a story, too, since everybody does not read your content thoroughly. That sums up images are extremely important to be on your page whether you consider it as a prospective of SEO, engagement, or storytelling.
What Does It Take To Serve Images on Your Web Pages?
The most extensive section of a webpage (that has images) is covered by images alone. If you inspect a webpage that holds a decent number of images, you will notice they are adding hundreds of extra kilobytes to increase the page size.
More than that, storing a large number of images inside your web host can eat a lot of space, and it grows rapidly. For each image you upload, 4/5 variations will be created to use them on various sections of your website, if necessary. Typically this happens with WordPress websites.
The next impact, which is inversely proportional to the number of images, is page performance.
With increasing image count, the page must deliver more data to the browser per request, which not only increases the required time for total data transfer but also it costs more bandwidth per page.
A popular page loaded with images can cost a significant amount of bandwidth, which is not a good idea if you have given limited bandwidth per month.
However, with excellent technology such as CDN and server with a large storage capacity, page size & performance won’t be a huge concern for the website owners. Images are essential, and you will always find a way to serve them on your webpages.
I should also mention optimizing images before using them will significantly benefit you in terms of performance and size.
Alternative Ways To Host Website Images
As I have mentioned earlier in this post, our main goal is to tell you how you can host website images without using traditional storage while maintaining website speed. Follow the hierarchy as you proceed through the options you have as an alternative resource to serve images.
Cloudinary is a cloud-based streamlined media management service packed with cool features such as image management, optimization, manipulation, including video transcoding, cloud storage, and faster image delivery technology, etc.
It is a freemium tool that allows you to signup for free and uploads images into cloud storage. The uploaded image can be edited, optimized, and delivered to your web pages in many different formats.
It has three premium plans starting from plus($99), advanced($249), and advanced extra($549). But the good news is the free plan provides 22 GB managed storage, which is enough for a starter or mid-range website, and 44 GB monthly bandwidth is vast as well.
This tool includes compelling modules as a complete image serving solution and allows you to do a whole lot of things before using an image on a website. The media library UI is convenient. You can manage image property, modify it according to your needs, analyze an image to find out similar images, edit the image with lots of available options, get the link to embed in your page, etc.
Using the transformation module, you can compress the images with lossy, lossless, and various other compression technologies. Most amazingly, you can even track which images are getting the highest impression of your webpages. I recommend this tool if you are looking for hosting your images outside the website host.
The performance test result was quite good. We added two images, both of size (349 kilobytes) on a webpage and tried to check it’s performance and loading time. You can see the image delivery was quite fast for a 3rd party server to display it on your page from the test.
Most people are familiar with DropBox. Dropbox allows you to keep files in cloud storage and share them with your colleagues. It provides excellent mobility to access your files from anywhere and using any device.
Apart from file sharing and dynamic accessibility, Dropbox adds security to your files by encrypting them in transit (during cloud uploading). It applies the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256-bit protocol designated as acceptable by the U.S.
The uploaded files can be shared publicly or privately. You can take advantage of this tool to host website images and pull the public link of the file to your webpage. Typically the image link provided by Dropbox won’t allow you to display the image; instead, it will display the alternate text.
To overcome this problem, you don’t have to use any plugin either. All you need to change the last four characters of the image URL. For example;
Default dropbox image URL: https://www.dropbox.com/s/41r9dm2461rgvbb/Road_To_Victory_Military_Museum.jpg?dl=0
You need to replace “dl=0” with “raw=1“
Modified dropbox image URL: https://www.dropbox.com/s/41r9dm2461rgvbb/Road_To_Victory_Military_Museum.jpg?raw=1
Remember: to share an image or any other files publically; you need to have a premium plan. It can cost extra and be a downgrade to Cloudinary or your current default WordPress hosting.
The result of the Dropbox image delivery performance test is quite good. The average time required for connection establishment before delivery of image data remains 130ms to 160ms. The render-blocking time though will increase slightly, which is understandable given the image is being hosted by a third-party domain.
I have been using this app frequently for the last two years. When it comes to storing your images, Google photos bring many good things to consider signing up for it seriously – perhaps even switching from iCloud, Flickr, OneDrive, etc.
Google photos have all the rooms you would want – for free to host website images. You don’t have to worry about reaching your storage limit. Google optimizes the images automatically once you upload them, but that does not hamper the visual quality, which means you won’t be publishing low-quality images while using the service for free.
You can edit, apply filters to your images and group them before publishing in bulk. However, pasting the image link directly into the WordPress media block won’t display the image from Google photos. You need to add a little more strategy to show images from Google Photos to your page visitors.
The best way to deal with it by using the Jetpack plugin. It’s a reputed plugin, and after installation, you can sync all the images from Google Photos by clicking on “Google Photo Library” and select the image you want to insert in your post. You can create a gallery if you want by choosing multiple images.
In terms of performance, there might be a concern regarding the use of the Jetpack plugin; however, the test result was similar to the previous test we have done with Cloudinary and Dropbox.
To use images from Google Photos, you may need to install another plugin to your WordPress site, but it’s worthwhile when you have that much free space and good image delivery performance as well.
The next option you have is SmugMug. SmugMug is a freemium tool that allows you to host website images, customize your image gallery, and easily share images using links, HTML, or BBCode.
The user interface of SmugMug is super easy to understand. Image uploading is as easy as dragging and dropping it from your local directory. Once an image was uploaded, the color effect can be modified, crop, rotate, and set image descriptions.
You can test SmugMug service in a 14 days trial period before purchasing the premium plans. The premium plans are classified as Basic ($55), Power($85), Portfolio($200), Pro($360), each of them featured with different packs of features.
To use a photo from SmugMug into your WordPress page, you can use an image link to sync media files(image), or you can use the HTML code created by SmugMug. Both ways are convenient to use, and it does not require any other plugins to install on your site.
When it comes to page performance, SmugMug is not as efficient as Cloudinary or DropBox. Although it delivers a decent performance for external media hosting. You might also encounter DNS Lookup on page performance tests after syncing SmugMug images, but there is nothing much to worry about.
Another great place to host website images is ImageShack. It is a subscription-based image hosting website that comes in handy for sharing images from the spot. This site requires a standalone image uploader client that is very easy to use. You can add as many pictures as you want to the list, and the tool will do the job for you.
ImageShack is one of the most straightforward tools to use in this list. All you have to do is select the required image from the gallery and copy the direct sharing link or HTML code to use it on your web page. Before using the image, make sure to set the required size, and that’s it.
ImageShack does allow users to take advantage of the tool for free; however, it is limited. For the premium plans, you have three options to choose from Basic($3.99/month), Pro($29.99/month), and the premium plan ($99.99/month). Premium plans enable image management options and privacy settings.
Using images from ImageShack doesn’t hamper your page performance either. The image delivery rate is decent, and we haven’t noticed large render-blocking and waiting after multiple tests. Like SmugMug, you might notice some DNS Lookup notices on-page testing tools when using images from ImageShack.
Additional Services That Allow You To Host Website Images
There are a lot of websites and online software where you can upload and link those images into your blog post or any other location of the website. The five we have mentioned above are better than the rest but only in terms of image delivery performance. They are not, by any means, giving you less satisfaction and options to host website images from the cloud.
Below we have added those tools you can take advantage of as a 3rd party image hosting for your site. Also, we would like to suggest you use images from these cloud storages and test the page performance with tools such as GTmetrix and Pingdom to know how it works for you.
iCloud provides a cloud storage service that is managed by Apple Inc. You can host website images on iCloud that provides 5 GB of free storage. You can collaborate on your files and images with colleagues. iCloud offers excellent security to your files and is customizable. Direct links from iCloud can access the image files.
4shared is one of the high-quality free online image hosting and sharing services providers. It is designed to store large amounts of data per user and allow easy accessibility to everyone. This service is free to use and is a perfect resource to host and direct links to your webpage. 4Shared provides 100GB of storage and SSL data encryption for data protection.
Imgshare is another online image hosting tool. It can be used for the reverse idea, allowing image uploading to your website, blog, or forum.
All you have to do is copy and paste the plugin code into your website’s HTML code. It will create a button that allows people to upload an image to your website, but those will be hosted on Imgshare. That also saves your site from potentially infected files being uploaded by evil users.
Not only this, you can use any image from Imgshare to your site with the help of a direct image link too.
Flicker is another excellent storage to host website images. Most of you might have heard about Flicker. It’s super simple but effective. The UI does not give a lot of options but what you have are the most important.
To copy image links, you may not have any link-tool, but just open the image and right-click & traditionally copy the image link. You can use that link to display the image as long as the image visibility is set to public.
Not only images, but Flicker also allows you to store, search, and share videos too.
Imgur is the easiest tool that helps you to discover images and enjoy the Internet. It’s the best site for the funniest, informative, and inspiring images, GIFs, etc. Besides that, it is a great option to host website images and share them anywhere you want.
Every image has an embed code that allows you to embed the image on your web page. But embedded images will be displayed with Imgur tags and their global properties.
As long as you are using a premium web host, you should not be worried about storage capacity, or you can upgrade your plan to get more storage space. But if you are planning to stick with the same hosting plan and use a 3rd party image host instead, we hope this post can certainly help you to find a solution.
We encourage you to try out all the resources we have mentioned, and that will be enough space to serve the image. If you know more about such image hosting platforms or currently using them, let us know in the comment section below.