For many years – ten, at least – I have been contributing to pen discussion boards. Often, the subject required a photo of the pen under discussion and I hotlinked the picture from my Photobucket account. It was a matter of pride to me that while some other people’s photos might disappear and leave a blank space, mine were still there years later. I have a paid account and I was confident that it would remain secure for years to come.
Without any warning (though Photobucket say they emailed members) all the photos belonging to those who have free accounts were deleted and replaced by an image indicating that the photos would be restored if a premium account was taken out. The premium account costs $400.00 a year. Oh, excuse me. $399.99.
I would imagine that a very high proportion of those who had free accounts will not be able or willing to pay such a huge sum. That means, of course, that those links will remain broken. The precious archives of all the fountain pen discussion boards will be so damaged as to be useless. Of course all the other hobby groups and blogs like LiveJournal and Dreamwidth will be affected, too.
Even those of us who have paid Photobucket accounts will eventually lose all our links, too, unless we pay the blackmail. I, for one, couldn’t justify paying more than £300.00 per annum. We have about 18 months grace, after which all the links will go. I won’t use my account anymore. There’s no point in making photo links which will die in December next year.
Of course there are many other photo embedding services. I have signed up with Fotki.com who seem to be one of the best. I could download all my photos from Photobucket but that’s not the point. I archive all my pictures anyway. It’s not those photos that are important, it’s the links. There’s no way to re-establish them.
We know that nothing lasts forever. One day even massive companies like Google and Amazon will have had their day. If you don’t believe that, think back to how dominant Yahoo once was, and that recently it was sold off like a second-hand car. But Photobucket’s change of terms of service was done with no warning and no explanation. It wasn’t necessary and it was immensely destructive. Instead of ending up with, perhaps, thousands of customers paying $400.00 they could have had millions paying a more sensible fee. The CEO of Photobucket has made himself the Gengis Khan of the web.
Now that this has happened, who else can we trust? Might not other photo hosting companies and cloud storage providers decide that blackmail is a good business model? The only way to avoid that is if Photobucket crashes and burns. I certainly hope they do.
Thankfully, the photos in this blog are safe. WordPress provides its own photo hosting so I didn’t use Photobucket here. Unless, of course, WordPress have a sudden bright idea…
7 thoughts on “Die, Photobucket, Die!”
Hmm. Did Martin Shkreli suddenly buy Photobucket?
I didnt mean to hit send…Photobucket are swine, pure and simple. If you want business, try not to blackmail, alienate and generally piss off your patrons. I stopped using it ages ago, simply because it is as slow as molasses in January, and the interface is clunky and grotty.
Lots of alternatives, though past links can’t be altered. Flickr is ok, if you can stomach being involved with Yahoo. I was using Dropbox, but their free storage is a laughable 4gb. Google seems to be the way to go, with 15gb free storage. It’s infinite for low res images, or you can just create several accounts and have 15gb for each.
I hope to see Photobucket wither and die like a vampire in the Sun. Swine.
My loathing for PhotoBucket knows no bounds. I took out a paid account with Fotki and that seems to be fine.
Sigh. My thing was when YahooGroups suddenly deprecated all of their logins, having incompetently allowed themselves to be hacked. Suddenly I had no access to a group I owned, and of which I was sole moderator (which was dumb of me). And I couldn’t reset the password without the original (14 years ago?) email address. =deadgroup.
As far as pen photos go, I host my own, on the server space for my website. Costs about $65 per year (including domain registration), and should you need to move to a new server provider you don’t need to change the links (because it’s all attached to the name of your website). It supports WordPress, so you can keep using a system you are familiar with for uploading them and easily assigning links; and there are great backup plugins (which I’m sure you know).
Sometimes you just have to do it yourself. No, actually: always you just have to do it yourself.
Hosting my own would definitely be the best way to go if I had the time to get organised, which unfortunately I don’t.
ahh, that explains why I’ve been seeing so many broken photo links on the-forum-that-shall-not-be-named. I’ve been a paying customer of Smugmug for a decade now and am completely pleased with their service.
Smugmug was the other one I was very impressed with. It was the toss of a coin between that and Fotki.