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Flickr cloud storage , May 2018 review

Strongest 1 TB free photo/video storage (with ads) & below industry average 1 TB storage price of $5.99 (to remove ads)

Weakest Desktop syncing apps require paid plan & all plans limited to 1 TB with no way to purchase more.

Flickr was founded in 2004 [1] which makes it one of the earliest photo & video cloud storage providers in the market. Flickr has gone through three ownership changes throughout the years: initially created and owned by the small Canadian firm Ludicorp, then acquired by Internet giant Yahoo & currently owned by the telecommunication giant Verizon through its acquisition of Yahoo [2].

Flickr states it has over 120 million users on its landing page [3]. Flickr offers a free photo/video cloud storage plan and paid plans for $5.99 (USD) a month or $49.99 (USD) a year.

Flickr storage

Flickr includes 1 Tera Byte (TB) of storage for all its plans. It's that simple, there are no upgrades or add-ons to get more than 1 TB. Whether you have a free or paid Flickr account makes no difference, every account gets 1 TB. So why doesn't Flickr offer more than 1 TB of storage for any account ? It's a business decision based on user patterns.

In a 2015 interview, former Flickr product manager Rajiv Vaidyanathan stated : "fewer than 100 members in the history of Flickr have exceeded the one free terabyte of storage we provide"[4]. So with 99.99% of their 100+ million users not requiring anything beyond 1 TB, extra storage is not an option they appear to be offering anytime soon.

While Flickr's storage amount might seem constrained compared to other cloud storage providers that offer options for TBs upon TBs of storage, take into account Flickr is only intended to store photos & videos, which have more predictable sizes compared to other files. For example, smartphone photos are on average 2-3 MB in size, this means that with 1 TB (1 TB = 1024 GB = 1,048,576 MB [1 GB = 1024 MB]) you can store between 524,288 and 349,525 pictures, which comes to about storing 1000 pictures every day for a full year!. In addition, Flickr establishes file size limits -- which I'll describe shortly -- that also contribute to making 1 TB of storage a reasonable amount.

But just in case you really need more than 1 TB storage, the only way to get more space for a Flickr account is to create another Flickr account. And with Flickr linked to Yahoo's account sign-in, it means you need to create another Yahoo account, which even though is a hassle, it's a doable process.

Flickr ads

One of the major differences between a Flickr free account and a Flickr paid account is ads. All Flickr free accounts have advertisements, so everytime you visit Flickr's website to upload a photo/video or you share a photo/video file with a friend, an advertisement is placed toward the top or bottom of the screen to defray the costs of the account. For example, the following figure illustrates Flickr's upload page with an advertisement toward the bottom of the screen.

Flickr advertistment at bottom of the screen

To get rid of Flickr ads you can upgrade to a paid account, which costs either $5.99 (USD) a month or $49.99 (USD) a year. There are additional benefits to paying for a Flickr account [5], but getting rid of ads because of their obtrusiveness or privacy issues, is generally why many people decide to pay for a Flickr account.

Flickr bandwidth, download and file limits

Flickr offers unlimited bandwidth and download quotas for all its plans. Although there's no official statement on their limits page about this feature, there are multiple community posts confirming this fact[6]. Since free Flickr plans are supported through advertistments, it's a reasonable expectation to have unlimited bandwidth and download quotas, since each visitor has the potential to generate revenue. Flickr paid plans on the other hand rely on user payments to defray the costs of bandwidth and downloads.

Flickr does however establish limits on the size of files you can store [7]. In terms of size, photo files are limited to 200 MB in size, where as video files are limited to 1 GB. Another albeit edge case restriction for photo files is they can be no more than 31.25 times wider than they are tall, which can be an issue for extra wide panoramic photos. Videos streaming is also limited to the first 3 minutes, which is rather strict compared to other cloud storage providers that support video.

Flickr photo and video formats

If you're a serious photograph enthusiast, Flickr may be a little bit of a let down in terms of formats, since it only supports three mainstream photo formats: JPEG, PNG and GIF (non-animated) [8]. Any other photo format is converted by Flickr into JPEG. In terms of video, Flickr supports a wider array of video formats that include: MP4, AVI, WMV, MOV, MPEG, 3GP, M2TS, as well as the newer formats OGG and OGV [8].

Although photo formats are limited to three types, Flickr compensates in the photo feature set by automatically creating multiple photo sizes. Besides storing your original photo file 'as is', Flickr also offers the ability to access multiple sizes of the same photo, as illustrated in the bottom right of the following figure.

Flickr different photo size formats

Different photo sizes are particularly helpful if you plan to take high-resolution photos (e.g. in the event of printing them), while at the same time sharing or accessing photos on different devices (e.g. a smartphone with a small screen only requires small-resolution photos).

By default, Flickr uses the 'best display size' depending on the medium where a photo is accessed, but you can change this to a fixed size for all photos [9]. Similarly, by default access to the original photo version is always available, unless you disable it [10]. More details about restricting photo access are provided in the next section on shareability.

Flickr accessibility & shareability

Access to Flickr as an uploader is differentiated if you have a free or paid account. Channels available for all accounts are through a standard browser via https://www.flickr.com/, as well as mobile apps for Android and iOS [11]. In addition, all Flickr accounts also support the ability to email photos/videos to a special email after which they are posted to a Flickr account[12].

However, Flickr's Desktop apps -- available for Windows and MAC operating systems -- are only available for Pro accounts (i.e. paying users)[13]. In this area, Flickr is the only cloud storage provider that restricts access to apps, with the intention to charge for them. While Flickr's paid plans are very competitive in terms of pricing at $5.99 per month for 1 TB or $49.99 per year for 1 TB -- which also includes removal of ads -- paying for the ability to upload photos to Flickr from a Desktop is something many users are not prepared to do, so be forewarned if you want to upload photos from a Desktop that this isn't available in Flickr free accounts.

Flickr is designed with a sharing mindset [14], so by default all your photos and videos live on Internet links for the world to see, but you can of course restrict access to a more limited audience. You can enable photos and videos to only be visible to yourself, your friends, your family, other Flickr members or the public at large [15]. In addition, it's also possible to restrict access to original photo files using the same levels [16], while maintaining different access permissions for other sizes of the same photo.

Besides standard photo and video links which are regulated by the previous access permissions, Flickr also supports two other types of links. Guest pass links [17] are intended to share private photos and videos with any user, irrespective of other underlying permissions (i.e. anyone with a guest pass link is able to access the photo or video). In addition, Flickr also offers personalized account links [18], which allow your account's main page to be associated with a memorable web address.

Another feature available on all Flickr accounts is support for tags. Tags allows you to add up to 75 keywords/phrases to each photo/video to make it more discoverable[19]. For example, with tags (e.g. Birthday, World Series) you can easily pinpoint photos and videos from among dozen or hundreds of possibilities.

Another thing that can be shared in Flickr photos and videos is Exchangeable Image File(EXIF) data[20]. EXIF data is a standard supported by many camera and smartphones that embeds metadata in a file. The following figure illustrates a series of EXIF fields displayed on a Flickr photo.

Flickr exif fields

As you can see, EXIF fields for a photo can include a camera's aperture & exposure time, as well as things like a photo's date and geolocation. Keep in mind EXIF data is generated by the device used to take a photo or video, so the device itself must support or be EXIF enabled. Because EXIF data can be potentially sensitive, Flickr also provides the option to make EXIF data private [21].

Flickr security & privacy

Flickr like most commercial websites uses SSL/TLS -- that small green lock besides a browser's URL address bar -- to create a secure tunnel protected by 128-bit or higher AES encryption, ensuring communication between your devices and Flickr is secure. In terms of account security (e.g. sign-in, password management), since Flickr is part of Yahoo, Flickr relies on Yahoo's infrastructure to operate this security aspect[22].

As it was mentioned in the previous section on shareability, Flickr defaults to being a public ecosystem of photos and videos. In this sense, you must be extra vigilant of all Flickr photo and video settings since they lean toward public sharing rather than privacy. Besides what has already been mentioned in terms of sharing and permissions, Flickr also offer the ability to assign copyright licenses to all photos and videos.

By default, Flickr assigns an "All Rights Reserved" copyright license [23] to all content, however, it's possible to use a less restrictive copyright licenses from Creative Commons (e.g.'Public Domain Work', 'Attribution-ShareAlike', 'Attribution-NonCommercial')[24][25].

Flickr cloud storage feature table

Provider.Plan Categories Storage limit Price Free trial Download limit Bandwidth limit Versioning & history File size limit Access tools Share files Share folders Comments Syncing / Automatic uploads Streaming
Provider.Plan Categories Storage limit Price Free trial Download limit Bandwidth limit Versioning & history File size limit Access tools Share files Share folders Comments Syncing / Automatic uploads Streaming
Flickr Free 1 2 3 4 free 1 TB* [1] [2]  Free[1]  Always free[1]  Unlimited Unlimited* [1] [2]  No 200 MB (Photos) & 1 GB (Videos)* [1]  Standard browser (via flickr.com) and native apps for Android and iOS[1]  With a link* [1] [2]  With an album, which is a collection of files* [1] [2]  Overall file* [1]  With email* [1] [2]  3 minute limit* [1] 
Flickr Pro 1 2 3 4 paid 1 TB* [1] [2]  $5.99/month* [1]  No*  Unlimited Unlimited* [1] [2]  No 200 MB (Photos) & 1 GB (Videos)* [1]  Standard browser (via flickr.com) and native apps for Windows, Mac & Android and iOS* [1]  With a link* [1] [2]  With an album, which is a collection of files* [1] [2]  Overall file* [1]  With desktop apps, mobile apps & email[1] [2]  3 minute limit* [1] 
Flickr Pro+ 1 2 3 4 paid 1 TB* [1] [2]  $49.99/year* [1]  No*  Unlimited Unlimited* [1] [2]  No 200 MB (Photos) & 1 GB (Videos)* [1]  Standard browser (via flickr.com) and native apps for Windows, Mac & Android and iOS* [1]  With a link* [1] [2]  With an album, which is a collection of files* [1] [2]  Overall file* [1]  With desktop apps, mobile apps & email[1] [2]  3 minute limit* [1]