Online Photo Storage solutions–use them or else

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I had this talk with the students both in my hardware and in my networking classes this week and feel it’s an important enough thing to warrant its own post. I have a student, who had an issue with his hard drive, for those technically saavy amongst you, his hard drive lost its partition table and hence all of the contents of that drive. For the uninitiated let me explain; the partition table is like a giant database that gives the operating system a map of where things are. So when the system loses this map, it loses everything and all you can do is reinstall Windows, Linux, or whatever operating system that you use and start all over.

You can see how easy it is to lose everything…all those special moments and all those memories…gone.

So let’s talk about backups…the hard part is choosing a service. There are many free services available to help you store your images online. What you are looking for is a service that is reliable, does not change your image sizes (and there are many that do), provides you plenty of free space online and makes it easy for you to upload and access your content.

For simplicity’s sake, I will put these in a list for you:

Windows Live SkyDrive–This is probably the largest online storage site that you can find for free. If you use Windows and Internet Explorer (and that’s most of you), this is real simple. You simply sign up and begin using this. You get 25GB of storage on their servers to use as you see fit.

Windows Live Photo is another free service from Microsoft. The Skydrive is designed for your documents and photos while Photos Live is a cross between social networking and photo storage.  You get the same 25GB that is in your SkyDrive account. This is simply branded under a different name.

Flickr is a free service from Yahoo. Your access is limited and you need to check their site as the terms may change. http://www.flickr.com/help/limits/#28 will explain the details. (Please note–I have an upgraded account with Flickr and it works well for my purposes).

Photobucket is pretty much a mirror image of Flickr. They allow you to store up to 5,000 images on their site for free.

Imageshack is another free service that I am not that familiar with. I know they provide you with URL’s to your images much like Flickr and Photobucket so that you can embed them in webpages, emails, or online posts. They also have some limitations.

Photoshop.com is the site I reviewed in my last post. In addition to giving you editting tools, it also provides you with 2GB of free space and 20 GB will cost you $20/year. Now most sites give you access to some sort of photo editting software. Flickr provides you with access to online editor Picnik and  Microsoft’s Live tools give you access to a Microsoft’s Live Photo Gallery.

Picasa  is the free image hosting service from Google. Picasa lets you store up to 1GB of web albums on their servers. Now this is the smallest I’ve seen however, if you use Firefox and have a Gmail account, you can download a plugin which will allow you to use the 8GB of email space Google has given you for file storage. There are some limited editting tools which will suffice for most purposes.

Now the one thing to remember is that if you are uploading very large files (the Canon Mark V raw file is about 77MB in size) these sites may alter them and convert them to JPG or it may simply shrink them in size. Flickr’s free service restricts the image size that you or your users can download and others may do the same. Your mileage may vary.

But remember that even if you lost you original version of that special pic, any sized backup is better than nothing. I am writing this in the hopes of encouraging you to save your history and to save artifacts for those who will follow us; our children, grandchildren, great-great-great grandchildren plus who knows which descendant of ours will be famous one day and a cousin can point to an old photo and say “See? we are too related!”

Next time…we’ll talk about pay image hosting sites.

A lot happens in a month

For starters while perusing through the thousands of photos I have taken I stumbled upon this choice shot taken of Alcatraz prison from my balcony aboard the Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas.

Spooky photo of Alcatraz with no effects

Spooky photo of Alcatraz with no effects

I have more shots but nothing this dramatic.

Paying to access beauty

Now we all know that as photographers we have to jump through hoops and hurdles to get the right shot. We have to wait numerous cycles for the breeze to unfurl a flag just right or for the child’s eye’s to give that “plugged in and lit up” look.

Sometimes, we have to sign forms stating that we know we’re walking into a dangerous area and that we won’t sue the owner of the facility/property if we get hurt. Well it’s become that time of year in Texas where wildflower shots are readily available.

There are hundreds of free places to get these shots…like IH10 just outside of Seguin on the way to Houston. There are tons of locations around San Antonio too. But the places that I want to hit are the places that are forbidden unless you have the wallet for it.

Take for instance, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin. It’s a gorgeous place filled with the beauty of wildflowers year round. They charge you to access the facility if you want to look but if you pack a camera, look out. You can be slapped with an $100/day camera fee.

There is a new canyon at Canyon Lake and it has some awesome views as well. If you want to walk down that trail, you have to hire a guide and you have to also pay a fee. Combined, it can also run you about $100 and that includes LIMITED access to the area.

So please take this warning. If you are going to a favorite location and plan on taking your camera to capture some of the beauty, you better pack your credit card or a lockbox for your camera because cash strapped facilities are looking for new and better ways to generate revenue and our love of nature’s raw beauty and power is going to cost us.

Cutting the umbilical cords

With my webhosting needs diminishing and the loss of two major clients due to the fault of my soon to be former service provider, I have decided to essentially fire them. I was paying them several hundred dollars per year for hosting services and they repaid the favor by trying to prove me wrong whenever a problem surfaced rather than fix the problem.

Sorry Dave you cannot do that

Sorry Dave you cannot do that

This happened time and time again. I won’t even go into the time they made a major service upgrade and lost not just all of my data but the data for most of the subscribers affected by the upgrade.

Basically…I started with this company when they were small and now they don’t even do web/email hosting anymore. Their sole focus is server monitoring.

But if you want an idea how frustrating dealing with these guys were you can read this exchange with their tech support

Anyhow…I’ll be working with this new site now. Let me know if you have any ideas.