Flickr to limit free users to 1000 photos; also, a look at Flickr alternatives

Flickr announced on Thursday that it’s making changes to its service. (Flickr was bought by SmugMug back in April.) It’s dropping its free 1TB tier, which was added back in 2013 in a then-bid to attract users away from services like Instagram. Instead, Flickr is now limiting free users to a maximum of 1000 photos and videos, regardless of photo resolution.

Users with more than 1000 photos/videos will have until January 8, 2019 to upgrade to Flickr Pro (now $50/year) or delete enough content to get below the limit. Otherwise, as of February 5, 2019, Flickr will start deleting any content over the 1000 limit, starting with the oldest material first.

Flickr’s also offering some improvements to its Pro tier. Pro offers unlimited photo and video storage at full resolution, plus some enhancements to photo/video information. It’s also planning to drop the requirement to log into Flickr using Yahoo.

Concerns about the new free Flickr

Flickr logoI can see why Flickr’s dropping the 1TB tier and making other changes. Storage isn’t free, and the old storage tier dated from when Flickr was in a much more desperate position.

That said, the deletion of older content if users don’t pay up sounds not only the wrong way of handling things, but also potentially disastrous. (Simply not allowing new uploads for those over 1000 photos would’ve sufficed.) There’s a lot of embedded Flickr photos all over the Internet, which might mean a lot of broken images in the future.

I also wonder how this will affect Flickr’s Creative Commons photos, which is one of Flickr’s remaining strong points. (Update: It looks like we’ve got an answer, though my concerns above still stand.)

Flickr alternatives

Fuji camera
Flickr photo by rodalens (CC0)

While paying for the Pro tier is one option, some might not feel $50/year is worth the cost. Here’s some alternatives to staying with Flickr.

Google Photos

Google Photos offers two free storage options: unlimited free storage, but at a lower resolution; or full resolution photo storage up to a 15GB overall limit (Google Photos shares the 15GB free space with Google Drive and Gmail).

If you want extra storage, Google offers such under the name “Google One.” Google One starts at $2/month (or $20/year) for 100GB of space. Higher tiers include: 200GB (for $3/month, or $30/year); 2TB ($10/month, or $100/year); 10TB; 20TB; and 30TB (for a whopping $300/month).

I use Photos to back up photos from my phone at full resolution. Clocking in just under the free tier level, I’m storing more photos than what’s allowed under the new Flickr 1000 photo free limit. Even paying for the 100GB upgrade would be far cheaper than what Flickr Pro runs; I’d also be unlikely to hit the 100GB limit anytime soon.

Instagram

Instagram is the popular Facebook-owned photo sharing service. It’s become one of the dominant ways of sharing photos online. There’s no charge, though Instagram seems more geared toward casual photo sharing than professional-level features.

Dropbox

Dropbox offers some photo hosting features along with its general cloud storage service.

Free users receive 2GB of space, though various deals can offer increases in storage. Dropbox also offers several paid upgrades, starting with a 1TB “Dropbox Plus” service for $10/month (or $100/year).

500px

500px is another option for those looking for professional photo hosting services. The service offers monthly and annual photo account upgrades, along with a limited free service. Their “Awesome” tier starts at $6.49/month (or $47.88 annually), while their “Pro” tier runs at $12.99/month (or $71.88 annually). Both tiers offer unlimited photo uploads.

Do any of you still use Flickr? Or have any plans to switch services?

(Update 11/7/18)

One comment

  1. I am / was still using FlickR regularly. While I am not a pro photographer, or even a brilliantly talented one, I used it to back up my better photos, organise them into albums, and post photos that I was pleased with. Sure, none of them would win competitions. But on the other hand, my photos were above Facebook average in quality, and I was (am) proud of them.

    I had a Pro account in the past, but back in 2013, FlickR told users they were going to give everybody 1TB of storage and probably discontinue Pro accounts. So I switched to a free account.

    I have almost 18,000 photos on FlickR (using it as a backup AND a showcase means they weren’t all gold).

    FlickR’s decision to delete all but 1000 of them in February unless I pay their ransom convinced me that this company cannot be trusted. They might charge $50 in 2019, but who’s to say they won’t double that in 2021, or decide that “unlimited” should become “fair usage” and downgrade space to 100GB unless people pay extra? Turning previously public photos private / hidden would be OK. Saying they will be destroyed… no. Not so much.

    Think of the accounts of deceased users.

    Think of creative commons resources.

    In the end, the people who bought FlickR have decided that what they want is a gated community of serious photographers happy to spend the dosh to keep others out. They don’t want plebs. They don’t give a **** about archives or history. They don’t want people like me, who love photography but don’t have the time, money or equipment to pursue it as a hobby at a semi-pro level. And they’re willing to delete our work if that helps drive us out.

    So yeah, I’m leaving. Downloading everything with BulkR. Refreshing my backup external hard drives. Uploading all my albums to Google Photos (and buying extra storage so the pics aren’t shrunk to 16MP). I’d rather pay Google than give money to people who clearly don’t want my sort in their “community”.

    I’m sad though. I was pleased to be a FlickR member, among people who cared about image quality and not just social sharing & tacky filters. But if the new owners of the site don’t want my sort, then so be it.

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