If you are like me, then you have a ton of photos on your phone. If you are also like me, then you probably don’t really have a robust way of backing them up. I could stick them all in Dropbox or iCloud, but after a while that is going to start chewing through my storage space and costing me money.
Well, here’s some good news for iPhone users. Flickr have just added a feature to their iOS 7 mobile app which automatically uploads photos from your camera roll to your Flickr account, in full resolution. These images are stored in a private folder, only visible to you (unless you choose otherwise) so it is a great option for backing up images you don’t want to lose if your phone is stolen or the hardware suddenly dies. Some of you might remember that Flickr gifted users a terabyte (1 TB) of free storage when it was bought by Yahoo – that’s a lot of photos you can store for free without needing to buy additional space (Flickr says it is 537,731 photos at 6.5 megapixels!). You can also select whether you want the auto-upload to activate over WiFi and Cellular, or just WiFi only to save chewing through your mobile data.
I really like this option because it is almost set-and-forget. The images are all stored privately (not plastered across the internet), and new photos that I take are automatically synced to my Flickr account when I open the mobile app. The original photo resolution is not degraded, I can access the pictures from anywhere, I’m not going to run out of space in a hurry, and I can edit the images using the Flickr editing tools. Plus, it’s free. I even signed in using my Google account (one of my other grumbles about Flickr was having to use a Yahoo account which I had no idea of what it was or the password).
I’ve been using this over the past few days – already I have 200 images uploaded, and my new photos have been automatically synced when I open the Flickr mobile app. It also turns out this is a great way to get an image from my phone to the internet so I can use it here on my blog! Handy.
But what about Flickr using my photos for some evil purpose, I hear you cry! Well, Flickr does seem to offer clearer terms of service than some of the other image sharing platforms. Here is an excerpt from one analysis of the Flickr Terms of Service: “With respect to photos, graphics, audio or video you submit or make available for inclusion on publicly accessible areas of the Yahoo! Services other than Yahoo! Groups, the license to use, distribute, reproduce, modify, adapt, publicly perform and publicly display such Content on the Yahoo! Services solely for the purpose for which such Content was submitted or made available.” That means Yahoo can’t use or modify your photos in ways you never intended. (Instagram, in contrast, can do that.) This is good. FastCompany has also published a cheat sheet so you can compare the ToS for varying platforms (with similar comment).
To download the Flickr iOS mobile app, click here. Your last 25 photos will be uploaded from your Camera Roll, and to sync up any old ones you can just select them and upload in a big batch. Unlike other syncing processes, if you delete images on either your Camera Roll or your Flickr account they are not removed from the other repository, so you can upload to Flickr then delete from your Camera Roll to free up some space on your phone.
Now I can sleep a bit easier knowing my photos are being backed up – just in case.
Update: Flickr changed the rules recently forcing users to create a Yahoo account to access Flickr. I wrote another blog reviewing other options here.