Free Online Photo Storage and Sharing

Category: Photography

Digital photos, like all important files, need to be backed up regularly. But rather than hide your photos away in an online vault, why not share them with friends and family? A host of online photo storage and backup services double as photo sharing tools. Here are some tips for storing and sharing your photos online...

Where Can I Store My Photos Online?

The answer depends largely on what you want to do with your photos once you've uploaded them to the Web. There are plenty of free online "cloud storage" providers, and I've listed some of the most popular in my article Nine Free Cloud Backup Services. These are primarily data vaults, lacking the editing, organizing, and sharing features of pure-play photo sharing sites. But if all you're after is a place to stash your photos online, they can do the job.

Flickr, Picasa, Shutterfly, Photobucket, and other photo sharing sites have a host of features that make photo sharing easy, fun, and sociable. Here are some of the options to look for in online photo storage and sharing services.

Storage space is an important criterion, as well as how long photos can be kept on the site. Most photo storage services give you just a bit of free storage and may delete old photos after a few months. To get more space and permanent storage, you can buy a premium account for $20 to $50 per year. Free space can come with limits on how many photos you can upload per month or a monthly bandwidth cap, or both.
Online Photo Sharing

One thing to remember is that your photos may be compressed and/or resized after they are uploaded to conserve storage space and make them fit the site's standard display modes. If you need stash high-resolution photos, and you want to be sure that your images are not resized, make sure the photo sharing service you choose supports that.

Uploading, Editing, Tagging, and Sharing Your Photos

Ease of uploading photos varies from one service to another. The ability to upload photos in batches is critical. Uploading photos directly from camera phones is a handy feature. Some photo sharing services have apps that will upload a photo from your phone with one click, while others force you to send an email with a file attachment.

Photo editing tools may be provided. Sure, you can use an independent photo editing program, but the editing tools provided by photo sharing services integrate their uploading, tagging, and organizing features. Some toolkits can be downloaded to run on your desktop, speeding up editing and adding tags, album names, etc. Editing photos online (after they have been uploaded) is another option. See my related article on Free Online Photo Editors.

Picasa is a photo sharing service that has a nice set of editing tools, both online and offline. Red-eye removal, cropping, resizing, rotation, and contrast correction are offered, along with one-click fixes can remedy many common problems. Advanced features include effects, filters and batch editing. Picasa offers a generous 5 gigabyte of storage space, with a limit of 20MB per photo. If you need more storage, you can get an extra 20 GB for $5/year. One Picasa feature that I really like is the ability to add a watermark to your images. A watermark helps you protect your images and identify them as yours if they are used without permission.

Integration with social networks is an important part of photo sharing services. Look for buttons that enable you to share photos on Twitter, Facebook, and your other favorite social sites. Flickr excels at making it easy to share your photos on a variety of social media sites.
It's easy to add a tag or caption to help you organize your photo collection, and you can even set copyright permissions on your photos.

A free Flickr account lets you upload up to 300MB per month, with a limit of 30MB per photo. You can view only your 200 most recent photos, and as mentioned earlier, your photos may be compressed or resized. If you have a Flickr Pro account ($24.95/year), you get unlimited uploads, and can store your high-resolution photos (up to 50MB) in their original sizes.

If you want to print your photos, Shutterfly is well integrated with services that allow you to order prints, create photo books, cards, stationery, calendars and other photo gifts. Shutterfly offers free unlimited photo storage, and they promise that they'll never delete your photos.

Too much sharing can be a dangerous thing. Check the policy of your photo sharing site to see if you can set up both public and private albums, or get password-protected access to albums or specific photos. An "invite" feature lets you send emails or text messages to selected contacts inviting them to come see your latest photo via a URL included with the invitation.

Annotating photos with comments and tags adds context to them and helps make photos easier to find, for you and for people who visit your albums. Sharing photos is more fun when other people have the ability comment on your photos, turning a photo album into a miniature forum. Social networking sites like Facebook make this easy.

For smartphone users, uploading to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Tumblr is a snap if you use their mobile apps. Just be careful to use the appropriate privacy settings for your photos and albums. You might not want to share everything with everyone.

If you have an Apple device (iPod, iPhone or iPad) the free iCloud service will automatically upload photos from your mobile device to your iCloud Photo Stream, and sync them between your devices. The Photo Stream holds your most recent 100 photos, and you can choose who you want to share photos with.

Do you have something to say about online photo storage, backup or sharing? Post your comment or question below...

 
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Posted by on 26 Mar 2013


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Most recent comments on "Free Online Photo Storage and Sharing"

Posted by:

Jim
27 Mar 2013

I think you made a typo Bob. Google Drive storage costs a lot more than $5/TB/year.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Quite right. The free storage is 5GB (not 1 GB) and the extra storage pricing starts at $5/year for 20GB.


Posted by:

Hira
15 Apr 2013

Thanks for a nice article, Bob. Always enjoyed reading very useful information on your site. About Google storage pricing, I think their prices have changed from what I saw in your article. https://www.google.com/settings/storage/

Best,
Hira


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