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Quick Tip: Using Flickr For Photo Backups

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We've looked at backup solutions for your photos previously, but I've recently started exploring the possibility of using Flickr as a way to keep images safely stored off-site. In today's Quick Tip I'll be explaining how this works, how much it costs, and how you could retrieve your images if the worst happens!


Backing Up To Flickr

Although the main purpose of Flickr is for sharing your images, the online service will also safely store the original file you upload - providing you have a Pro account. This costs $24.95 for one year, removes any upload or storage limits, and lets you save and access very large resolution files.

If you have a very large photo library, the process of uploading your entire catalog of old images is going to take a very long time. There's no way around this, and it's the cost of using any off-site type of backup system.

Fortunately, there are various plugins that can help simplify the process - whether you use Lightroom, Aperture, or any other application for managing images:

  • Aperture and iPhoto have in-built Flickr integration. Be sure to check the box that asks whether you'd like to upload the original resolution file.
  • This plugin is a good solution if you're an Adobe Lightroom user.
  • Alternatively, you can use the Flickr Uploadr to upload large batches of files directly from folders in Mac or Windows.

If the process of uploading your catalog of photos is too much to bear, consider adding it to your workflow for shoots from now onwards. You can always work backwards at a later date if you decide to.

Keep Photos Hidden

Obviously you won't want your whole catalog of photos on display to the world. You can elect to keep them hidden when uploading, and just share those that you're particularly proud of.


Downloading All Your Images

If the worst happens and you lose all your local copies (and backups) of your images, it would be a nightmare to go through each image individually on Flickr and download the original. Thankfully, there are various tools that make the restoration process fairly straight-forward:

  • Flickr Backup - A free, open source option for downloading all your images.
  • Flickrtouchr - A command line utility for those who prefer a geeky, technical solution.
  • Flump - A cross-platform, Adobe Air application.

Don't Rely on One Solution

Although Flickr seems like a very reliable web service, it would be foolish to rely solely on an online system for backup purposes. In all likelihood, your data is far safer on Flickr's servers than it would be locally, but it pays to keep your own backup too.

The beauty with this solution is that it's a very inexpensive way to keep all your photos stored off-site. It removes the headache of rotating hard drives between two locations, and is very cost effective (I imagine many of you already have a Flickr Pro account!)

I'd love to hear what other solutions you use for off-site backup. Feel free to share in the comments!

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