For anybody using Flickr as their main way to store images online, news earlier this month saw that the Free and Pro accounts conditions are changing. The bottom line being as of January 8, 2019, you can only hold 1,000 images and videos in a free account. If you want unlimited storage it will cost you $50 per year.
If you already have over 1,000 photos or images in your account, then you have to start moving them or Flickr will delete them until you are at your 1,000 image limit. This means you have to start moving or culling your image and video libraries straightaway to avoid any losses.
If you read through their blog entry, it outlines all the ins and outs of the decisions and why they came to their current conclusions. If you agree with the decision or not, it points to a wider trend and how online facilities for storing images will progress as a business model.
Free… for Now…
This move by Flickr has implications for the rest. Completely free image providers can change their terms and agreements at a moments notice to the same categories as Flickr of free and pro accounts and/or with changing facilities and fees. The amount of image and video storage in the cloud/online can be cut dramatically, leaving you with the option of having images deleted or you have to move them elsewhere.
This doesn’t mean every place images can be uploaded to online will eventually start charging. Social media platforms which have most of the user base line online like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter will unlikely ever charge for your uploaded images. But Flickr, which is seen as more of a premium image storage service, now has more of a private business model face of a limited free account and full paid for account.
The limitation of 1,000 photos and deleting images above this amount is definitely going to make many long-time existing Flickr account owners very unhappy. But the wheels are in motion and it’s now down to how things are managed from now on. Maybe the new rules really should only apply to new members, so existing photo galleries are not brutally cut. For now, you either have to transfer your images to somewhere else online, pay up or invest in a quality hard drive. Some people will take the option of just buying into the pro account, which I guess is the route Flickr wants most people to take but if you have to move your images to another storage facility online, you might as well move the whole lot. Any way you cut it, it doesn’t feel like the most fair ultimatum.
Changes in the Air
Many people store their images and video in the cloud. It could be Google, Apple, OneDrive, Amazon, free or paid for. It feels more secure than a hard drive as cloud storage is co-located and their businesses focus on 24/7 uptime. The model of storage may be future proofed, but the businesses and their focus can change over time. As they find new ways to diversify and drive eyeballs to their websites, they may change the way their facilities are used and paid for.
In many ways, it’s no surprise that Flickr have gone down this route, especially when other companies are starting to charge more for less storage space. Smaller storage companies have free and paid for pro accounts, with much reduced facilities for their free accounts. A least you know what you’re getting upfront, while Flickr have changed their terms midpoint and left people with huge image galleries with a big digital move on their hands.
Currently, if you own over 1000 images on Flickr, your option is to move or pay up. Less than 1000 images, then you either wait until you hit your limit and pay or find another provider. I can add in another bit of doom and gloom in moving to a smaller storage company means they also have the potential of going out of business in the future. Almost unlikely with the big Bohemoth companies mentioned above, but it’s a possibility with others and even Flickr.
Many online storage providers are starting to offer the same amount of free space and levels in their pro account as they know what each other are charging. But you still have to go out shopping for quality online storage and have the peace of mind that your images will still be online in years to come.
Unless your images are stored on social media where you can only upload smaller images, you’re likely to have the options of a limited amount of storage in a free account and then you have to pay for the rest depending on your storage needs. In other words, if you want the facility to upload any size of images over 2GB, you’re mostly likely need to pay a monthly fee, most as of the time of writing will be around $9.99 a month for 2TB.
One option which is counter to the advice of storing everything online, is buy a quality hard drive(s). Solid-state drives and external hard drives can be bought for the same price as roughly one-year’s storage. Hard drives can have the reputation of failing, but this is becoming ever more rare, with the obvious option of backing up all your data yourself. This method will obviously take more maintenance work on your part, but at least you have full control of all your data, for better or worse. Having a mixture of both content stored on hard drives and in the cloud is probably the best way to go. Keep your best images as the ones you wish to share online and the bulk on your own quality hard drives.
Either way, storing our digital content in any large capacity online is going to cost us money moving forward. Take the steps now to secure how you store your images and it should last you at least for the next few years.