Few months back, Sony announced their online photo sharing site, Imagestation, will be closed. That came as a big blow to me, as I have backed up all my photos since 1999 with them, over 25,000 photos at over 33 GB. All my photos during my university days and working days until now are all there. All my families photos and all those travels are all there. I have used it as my second backup. I have a full set in my main hard drive, and another set in my external hard disk. If there is anything that I cannot lose from my PC, this is it. I can lose installer files, some documents, it’s fine, but not my family and my photo collections, they are irreplaceable. I’m sure you agree with me on this.
My current “My Pictures” folder size
Warning: Tech talk below, but if you are interested how to backup your ever-increasing photo collections online, read on.
Imagestation announced they’ll move all my photos to another site, Shutterfly, for free. That’s cool, I thought in the first place, until I found out that I couldn’t access my original-sized photos in Shutterfly. I contacted their customer service, and they said that they don’t provide original-sized photos because of technical reason. What??!! When I upload a full 5MP photo into Shutterfly, you tell me 640×480 photo is the only one I’ll ever get? C’mon, be serious. Yeah, they are serious, they don’t provide it. Sad.
And, here I am, looking for a new host for all my photos, and I’m ready to pay for it. I know no free site will host my 30GB photos for free, none. I’ve done some researched over the past one week. PicasaWeb looks good and easy, Flickr is popular though un-organized, but my choice in the end came to either Fotki or Smugmug. Picasa came with free 1GB storage, and it’s $20/year for 10GB or $75/year for 40GB. That’s expensive, and very limited compared to the rest of the competitors. Flickr, on the other hand, offer $24.95/year for the pro account, for unlimited storage, but it’s messy. The only way you can organize your photos is by sets and tags, and that’s messy to me.
Come Fotki and Smugmug, two very well known photo sharing site. Fotki currently offers $30/year for unlimited storage for its Premium account. What drives me to Fotki is its ability to allow FTP access. With FTP access, it’ll be so easy to upload your photos, and to download them in the future should I need it. It allows you to create folders, subfolders, sub-subfolders, and so on, to organize your albums of photos. That’s much better than Flickr‘s. I can easily organize by year, by month, by events, etc. Next competitor is Smugmug, I am currently on their 14-days free trial of Standard accounts. I still have 10 days left to try out their services. A standard account costs $40, the most expensive of all (not considering PicasaWeb), but its features and potential beats the rest. Firstly, it provides an open API, basically an open programming language, so anyone can write any utilities, applications to interface with Smugmug. The result are impressive, there are a number of free applications out there that allow you to upload, download, and do many things with your Smugmug account. ACDSee, which I use, offers Smugmug plugin with their latest ACDSee 10 Photo Manager. Secondly, it allows better organization like Fotki, albeit only two levels, but that’s enough. You can have keywords as you would expect, but you can create ShareGroups, which can turn out to be useful.
For example, the way I categorize my albums is by years and months. Subsequently, I can create ShareGroups that is called “Church“, and pick all the photo galleries across those years and months that has church outings and activities, and I can share that link with my church friends. That way, they’ll see only photos that matter to them, not every single activities of my life in 2007, for example. If there isn’t any major issue I find with Smugmug, I’ll likely sign up for their service before my trial expires.
Anyway, if you happen to like to sign up for a Smugmug account yourself, you can use my referral code and enter it, when you sign up, into Smugmug voucher coupon code: C26cqbAfqMjWs. I’ll earn $10 for my next year’s subscription, and you’ll earn $5 yourself, paying $35 instead of $40. Definitely not much, but it’s a win-win really. Do you use any online photo sharing/backup site? Where do you keep them?