Photofucket

When I started this blog almost ten years ago I had no idea that one day all the photographs on it would suddenly disappear.

But that’s exactly what happened after the site that hosts my shots, Photobucket, arbitrarily decided that it would no longer allow 3rd party photo hosting free of charge. That’s fair enough, you might think. Nothing’s free these days; there’s always some sort of trade off. And with Photobucket, there was. Users had to sit through adverts while their photos uploaded. (Using an adblocker slowed the whole process down, and in any case I can hardly object to adverts in my line of work).

But Photobucket clearly wasn’t satisfied with the revenue they accrued from ads. They wanted more. A lot more. And they could have got it, too, if they had emailed their users and explained that they were introducing an annual fee of, say, $25 or even $50. I’d have paid that; so would many others. But if the people at Photobucket did any business modelling to predict the likely income resulting from various subscription levels, they clearly didn’t follow it. Instead they just thought of a huge number – $400 – and decided they were going to charge everyone that.

Even worse, there was no prior announcement. Owners of sites and blogs simply woke up one morning in July to find that all their photos had disappeared and been replaced by this:Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 10.01.22

A visit to the link revealed that, unless I paid $400, I’d never see my photos again. Well, I could, but no one visiting this blog (or the ones here or here) would be able to. That’s a basically a ransom demand. Is it illegal? Probably not. Does it make good business sense? God, no. But it does mean I’m going to have to download all the 500+ photos I’ve uploaded to Photobucket over the years. I’m learning that this takes ages.

Then the real work begins

If I want to repopulate 10 years’ worth of blog posts, I’ll then have to:

  • Find a new 3rd party photo hosting website that’s either free or which doesn’t charge silly money. That’s NOT silly money
  • Reload all my photos to this new site, one blog post at a time
  • Match each shot to the position in the post in which it appeared
  • Copy and paste the link
  • Remove the ‘ransom demand’ notice
  • Wish I’d made a note of the original caption before removing the ransom demand notice
  • Repeat 500 times

Any suggestions as to how I can shorten this process will be received with bags of gratitude.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Photofucket

  1. Leo

    Well, depends on how skilled you are with databases and so on. Seems you’re hosting on WordPress.com, which should give you some capacity to store your own media.

    Basically, look for suitable replacements for every pic. There are plenty of pretty impressive stock photo resources (all free, public domain), some of which can be found here: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/free-stock-photos#sm.0001lxungau5ceruy4v15pqoicmbv . Download the pics you want to your computer.

    Then follow the instructions on this page: http://www.wpbeginner.com/plugins/how-to-easily-replace-image-and-media-files-in-wordpress/

    • bravenewmalden

      Thanks, Leo. I haven’t hit my storage limit with WordPress yet so that’s one option I can look at. Stock shots are more problematic, as this and my other blogs tend to feature photos I’ve taken or scans from magazines etc. It’s unlikely that someone else will have taken a similar shot (especially if they’re ones featuring members of my family!)

  2. Leo

    Sorry, yes, I now recall that you use many of your own pictures. I’ve been to the photobucket URL mentioned in the ransom image. Seems you still have access to your account and its contents, which means none of your images are lost.

    If that’s indeed the case, then sign up for a google drive, dropbox, microsoft onedrive account, and upload the images you downloaded from your photobucket account.

    If you have access to the database in which your posts are stored on wordpress.com, you can use a script to search and replace the photobucket URL in every tag in your post, and replace it with the google drive / dropbox / microsoft onedrive URL. (I’m sure you can get a plugin that does the same, just in case you don’t have database access).

    (The script will look for http://www.photobucket.com/some_dir/image.jpg and replace ‘photobucket.com’ with ‘mycloudstorageservice.com’, with the final result being http://www.mycloudstorageservice.com/some_dir/image.jpg)

    The benefit of the above method is that you won’t have to readjust image size or position or anything else. Heaps of time saved.

    • bravenewmalden

      That’s really useful, thank you. Latest news is that Photobucket have noticed that people are downloading their albums and are making that impossible. That’s my interpretation, anyway. I’ve been trying for a week or so and keep getting the same ‘Hmm. Something went wrong’ message. I contacted Photobucket and they say it’s due to a technical issue and I should download my images one at a time. Sure, I have LOADS of time for that.

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