Back Up Your Photos So Companies Such As Photobucket Can’t Hold Them For Ransom

Back Up Your Photos So Companies Such As Photobucket Can’t Hold Them For Ransom
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Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return, unless thou pay Photobucket $500/year. The 14-year-old photo hosting site recently stopped letting outside sites display its photos for free, a move that instantly broke images on blogs, home pages, and eBay and Amazon listings, and infuriated longtime users. Some users are even having trouble downloading their own images, driving home an expensive lesson: Never trust a third-party site to hold onto your photos forever.

Photo by Michael Sheehan

Every few months or years an old hosting service shuts down or starts charging for previously free services, often leaving users little or no time to recover their data. As Gizmodo’s Casey Chan put it when Webshots deleted its photos in 2012, “Your old pictures on the internet are going to be deleted.” Full stop. Some day Flickr will shut down, as will Picasa, Imgur and Facebook. Maybe in a year, maybe in a century, but it will happen. So always keep local copies of your photos, like all your other priceless data. And keep a couple of cloud backups for when your house burns down.


  • It sounds like Photobucket went the same way as a lot of other services before it, got too popular so had to try and find ways to pay the bills, though they did do it in a very crappy way.

    People have to remember that free isn’t really free. Sure your Flickr account has a heap of storage and you don’t have to pay for it, but they aren’t doing it out of the goodness of their hearts. They will be monetising through ads and data or they will get to the point where they start charging their user base.

    After my main drive storing all my photos/videos fried a few years back I now keep 2 copies of everything. A local copy on my NAS (that I only turn on when I need it) and cloud copies on OneDrive (through my O365 subscription). After doing a bit of a look around I found that while yes I could get a decent amount of storage for free, by paying for it from someone like Microsoft it meant that I could trust that it was secure and there wouldn’t be an issue where my photos are held to ransom (unless I stopped paying for it).

    I do feel sorry for a lot of these Photobucket users, as it was used as a way to store large images to save space on blogs, item listings etc. For the forseeable future Photobuckets placeholder image that free accounts are now displaying will be seen all across the internet and will be a harsh warning for the future.

  • I still prefer the old 3-2-1 rule.

    Minimum of three copies of any file you consider important.

    Two of those copies should be offline / cold-storage.

    One of those offline copies should be off-site.

    My personal pattern is 4-3-2, with 4 copies of anything important. (2 RAID arrays and 2 Cold Storage Backups).

    With 1 RAID array used Offline along with the two Offline Cold-Storage Copies.

    Both Cold-Storage Copies are Off-site at different locations.

    That should hopefully see me through.

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