Flickr and the looming threat of digital disaster

With the exception of the odd copy for family and friends, I don’t think I’ve bothered getting photos printed for a few years now: it’s easier and quicker to browse my pics on the laptop, and from time to time I sync my photo library with the Mac under the telly so I can browse old photos from the comfort of my sofa. Unfortunately that’s a fairly risky approach, because if something were to happen to my computer(s) – or if I were to make an arse of things and overwrite an album by accident – then the photos would be gone forever.

On the face of it printing your pics is the simplest solution, but then you need somewhere to put the things (my photo library isn’t particularly big, but there’s still several thousand photos in there) and of course, you need to pay for the prints. You could always burn them onto CD, but CDs are easily lost or damaged, and according to recent news reports the life expectancy of a cheap CD-R can be as little as two years. Or you can do what I do and make regular backups to an external hard disk, but as with Mac to Mac syncing that won’t recover your photos if god forbid, your machines got nicked or your house went on fire.

For me, the answer’s Flickr – or rather, the £15-ish-per-year Flickr Pro account. The 2GB monthly upload limit can be a pain, but other than that you’ve got unlimited storage, unlimited albums and if you use the FlickrExport plugin for iPhoto, really easy uploading. Of course, it doesn’t have to be Flickr – you can use any service you like – but the combination of full-quality pic storage and the various levels of privacy Flickr offers make it the best solution for me. Plus, I like Flickr’s way of doing things.
So now, if my house gets hit by a missile, my unflattering photos will live for eternity. Or at least until Flickr realises I’m buried under rubble and deletes my account.