FREE PHOTO STORAGE - Using ISP Web Space [Optus] & FTP

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How to host your photos on your ISP's Web Space [Optusnet]

You can significantly reduce the cost of listing, and have much more flexibility in placement of photos if you use a remote Photo Hosting site than uploading your images to Ebay.

Some people use online advertiser-supported sites like Photobucket, but there are far easier, faster and much more reliable places to store images. This guide covers the basic steps to use the free web space from OPTUS / OPTUSNET (Australian ISP) that is provided to all subscribers as part of their internet plan.

Like most ISP's Optus provides multiple email address and web space accounts for all members. Under the current plans, each subscriber is allowed 5 x Email accounts, and each of those is allowed 10MB of free web space. This is extremely reliable, fast and completely free web space that is perfect for hosting images used in Ebay listings !!

The information shown below is specific to Optus, however almost ALL ISPs will provide similar free web space. If you aren't using Optus, simply contact your own ISP for details of the FTP Address that you need to use.

This looks long and complicated, but it's dead easy... easier to learn that something like PhotoBucket.


1. Set up UserNames in your Optus Account

Every Optus account is allowed 4 extra UserNames PLUS your primary account, and each UserName gets 10MB of storage. So, that is a total of 50MB or enough space for between 500 and 1000 ebay-sized photos.

Create extra UserNames from the default optusnet webpage :

  • Optuszoo > Member Services (top)
  • "Sign in to My Internet Account"
  • Create some UserNames (each must have a Password)
    - keep a record of the Name / Password you've used !!
  • Sign Out of the Zoo Member Admin pages

The separate UserNames are also great to provide you with a dedicated Email Address just for Ebay correspondence !


2. Log In to your FTP space

You upload your image files to your web space using FTP, which stands for "File Transfer Protocol". FTP support is built into most web browsers, so you don't need to install anything special. I will demonstrate using Internet Explorer because all Windows users have IE, and it's also by far the easiest FTP program to use.

Using INTERNET EXPLORER, go to one of the following Optus addresses (try both). You can also use an FTP program if you like, but for normal usage IE is far easier - note the "ftp" (rather than "http") at the beginning of the web address :

A dialog box will open, asking you to LOG IN - so use your UserName and Password (from Step 1).

Now that you are logged in, you will be looking at what's called the "Root Directory" (parent folder) of your Web Space. You can work directly with the files and folder in the Web Space, without any fancy or complicated "front end"... you just treat this FTP space like another drive on your computer.

Note: Do not delete the file "index.html" from the Root Directory (more info later) 


3. Working with Folders and Files

I definitely recommend that you create folders to keep your images organised, rather than dumping everything into the "Root Directory" (the main parent folder).

Use the RIGHT-CLICK MENU in Internet Explorer to work with the folders. You can add, rename and delete folders with the Right-Click menu, and there are extra controls inside the menus of your FTP Browser screen too.

Right-Click inside the main area of the screen and choose New > Folder. A new folder will appear, and you should rename it. For this demonstration, I am have created a folder named "ebay" - so for testing you should make one the same so you can follow me in the steps below.


4. Copy your image file into the FTP folder

Double-click the new folder (mine was named "ebay") to open it up (it will be empty). Just keep in mind that this is almost the same as working on your own computer, so you can do similar things on the FTP space.

Next, let's drag and drop an image file from the Desktop to the Web Space - this is by far the easiest way of uploading, but you can also copy/paste !

Once that's done, you will see the image's filename listed inside the Web Space folder. Once the image is there inside the folder, it is immediately accessible from the Internet !


5. So, what's the URL of my Web Space ?

Leave the FTP window open for now, and open another (new) Internet Explorer window.

In the image below you can see the FTP Address of the upload window (at the top of the picture). And note the corresponding HTTP website Address (at the bottom of the picture) :

In the new window, type in the HTTP address that I show above, but substitute your own UserName for the blue text at the end of the URL. Don't forget to change the "ftp" at the start to "http" When it loads you will see is the default Optus holding page like this :

The text you are seeing is actually an HTML file named "index.html" (that you saw in the Root Directory in the FTP window), and I'll explain how to use this file at the end of this guide.

Before you go ANY further, bookmark both those Addresses (FTP and HTTP) !


6. Understanding the Folder Structures

There is a direct correlation between the FTP address and the HTTP address, but they're NOT QUITE the same... the difference is the "FTP" or "HTTP" at the start, and that you must include your UserName into the Address Path for the HTTP address.

The highest level is called the Root Directory (parent folder) of the Web Space. Each folder and subfolder that you create in FTP will be duplicated exactly in the HTTP address. Remember that folder you made in step 3 above (my demo folder was named "ebay")?

If you created a folder named "ebay" in the Root Directory of the FTP window, then you would add that same folder name "ebay" onto the end of the Root Directory of the HTTP address :

ftp ://

http ://


7. The Directory Listing on the Web Server

OK, now do it yourself - add the Folder name (that you previously created) onto the end of the HTTP web address in your web browser, and hit enter (or click GO). Once you get inside the folders on the Web Server, you will see what is called a "Directory Listing" (folder listing) of all the files inside the folder :

This is an Index Listing that replicates the folder display from the FTP window, except that each of the files is automatically created as a clickable link. Sub folders will also be shown too, and you can click those to get inside of them.


8. Finally, the URL (address) of the image

In the Index, click the link (name) of the image file that you have previously uploaded (my example was "train.jpg") - it will open it. Once you have the image displayed in your browser, you can then copy the full HTTP Address (URL) of the image :

You can now use this image address in your listings (HTML page), or where ever else you like.


Important rules of file names

There are a couple of important rules about naming Files and Folders :

  1. Use lowercase only in folder and file names
  2. Do NOT use any spaces or weird characters

Basically, you should only use a to z , 0 to 9 , dash - and underscore _  !

For example, if your original filename was "Fred's Birthday.jpg" you should rename it to "freds_birthday.jpg" for use on the internet.


A Trick - the index.html file

Web servers need to be told what to do when visitors come to take a look at your files and folders. Sometimes it's really great to have an Index Listing of all the files in a directory, but sometimes you would prefer NOT to allow people to browse all you stuff like that.

The way that almost all Web Servers are configured is to look for a file named "index.html" inside the folder. If a file with that name exists, then the Web Server will display that to the web browser. However, if the Web Server cannot find a file named "index.html", it will create and display the Index Listing (of all the files in that folder).

Therefore, you can stop people viewing your files by creating a file in Notepad, putting whatever you like inside it, then saving it with the filename "index.html". Save it into the folder by FTP, then try viewing the folder contents in the corresponding HTTP address.

If you want to show nothing, create an empty (blank) index.html file. You can also create a formatted message using HTML too - perhaps to tell people that browsing isn't allowed.

THE END - I hope that helps :-)

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