Photos Disappearing from Flickr – When the Cloud Fails

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this-photo-is-currently-unavailableOur travel photographs would be very expensive to replace. Replacing them would be more than just buying another ticket and heading back to some far-flung destination. They represent our memories. As a full-time blogger my photos are also part of the way that I make money. A text-only blog post is not as memorable and will attract less traffic.

So what do you do to protect your photos from loss? For me part of my strategy has been to upload my photos to Flickr (I have purchased a Pro account) where they can be stored “safely” in the big internet cloud from anything that might happen to my laptop and my backup drives (yes, that was backup drives plural).

I have been increasingly concerned, however, to find that photos that I put up on flickr are no longer there. I have not deleted them, but they are gone. And they are disappearing in some unpredictable fashion. A little over a year ago I went to Mexico City and Oaxaca Mexico. I wrote a journal about my trip which I posted to my blog along with pictures. Pictures have now disappear from days 1-4 and from day 8. Photographs from days 5-7 are still there. As a blogger I can notice when photos I have blogged about have disappeared but would you notice?

I am starting to hear that others are seeing their photos disappear but I have been working with Flickr support for about a month now and they have no ideas. They first said that I must have edited these photos which changes the URL. But these photos didn’t just get a new URL. They are missing. My Mexico City photo set used to have pictures of 3 full days in the city. Now it has 2 photographs. If you ask anyone who travels with me they will assure you that I take more than one photograph a day.

Check Your Account

If you have a flickr account you need to see if your photos are still there. Leave a comment here on what you learn. If this is a problem and Flickr knows about it then they should say something. A photo sharing site should NEVER EVER lose a photo. Even if my account were full (a Pro account is unlimited) then you should get a warning before any photo is deleted.

Backup

No matter who you use as your photo service you need to make sure you have a backup or two.

Alternatives to Flickr

I am using SmugMug as an alternative. (see travelphotos.amateurtraveler.com). I have had good experience with their service and I can host the photo gallery under my own domain. In case you are also interested in looking at them I have included a (affiliate) link below.

Save 20% off SmugMug

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by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast, and a co-host for This Week in Travel podcast.

31 Responses to “Photos Disappearing from Flickr – When the Cloud Fails”

Mary Myers

Says:

We have really come to rely on the cloud, and this is a great reminder that we always need to have a backup plan, and physical backup(s), in place. Not only for our pictures, but even down to the level of individual blog entries.

chris2x

Says:

I use a wordpress backup plugin that sends me a database dump of my wordpress databases in email once a week.

chris2x

Says:

Now after a Month Flickr thinks they may have known what happened –

Hello,

Thank you for providing the links from your blog. It
appears that some of the images from your blog like this
page:

http://blog.amateurtraveler.com/2009/03/12/mexico-trip-journal-day-8-oaxaca/

The images were deleted from the Flickr account on December
24th 2009. From either the Organizr tool or from iphoto. If
you have iphoto and your Flickr account synced up, any image
you delete from iphoto is also deleted from your Flickr
account. Once a image has been deleted, it cannot be
recovered.

I am sorry for this and any inconvenience that this has
caused. If you have any other questions, feel free to reply
back to this emial.

Regards,

Jake

So this might be a an issue with iPhoto which or with how I used it to post.

chris2x

Says:

The photos that are missing are still in iPhoto and still show up as updates I have sent to flickr so it does not look like I deleted them.

Gary Arndt

Says:

I keep 2 copies of all my original RAW files on separate external hard drives in the US.

All my jpeg images are on Smugmug. I have not had any problems with them after almost 2 years of hosting.

Flickr is a big money loser for Yahoo. They have put zero effort into the service since they were purchased.

Sherry Ott

Says:

Wow – losing photos would terrify me. I have used smug mug now for 3 years – I love it. I have more control, it’s more professional, and they have added more wordpress/blogging widgets to use.
Glad you at least have an explanation!

Don Chase

Says:

I am just checking out smug mug but have nit started using them yet. Honestly i didnt know they existed til a couple of days ago, I am going to check it out.

I don’t know about you but i feel so confident when my data is good and sometimes skip backing it up, but ther eis really no worse feeling than losing data.

There is a service called backblaze thats pretty cheap that constantly is backing up your info. Thats good for set it and forget it. Your data should exist in 3 places at all time though. I am constantly stowing stuff in my gmail accounts, on a usb drive and then on this backblaze deal.

photos and the time you put into them is precious, as hard as it is to stay consistent, backing up is a must!!

Heather on her travels

Says:

I store the best of my photos on Flickr – not all, which I keep on my laptop & also backed up on hard drives. I use Flickr as a public photo album and also a bit of an insurance policy. It wouldn’t be the end of the world if some of mine disappeared but I would be rather cross, especially paying for the pro account. It’s not just the loss of photos but the time & effort you put into uploading, captioning & taggin gthem

Marion Vermazen

Says:

The only thing that has stopped me from moving to SmugMug is the hassle of changing over. I’ll be interested if you decide to make the switch.

elaine

Says:

FLICKR KEEPS LOSING WHOLE SETS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
of hundreds and hundreds of pictures!

I had no back up copies.

They were of performances held at my school, and I was responsible as their photographer. I haven’t been able to find any ways of retrieving back lost photos.

chris2x

Says:

My problem looks like it was related to iPhoto and Flickr’s API. Are you using any 3rd party program to update flickr?

Jafafa Hots

Says:

I just discovered a bunch of photos missing. The place for them is there, but nothing loads, so maybe it’s a temporary yahoo server issue. I am not using iPhoto or any other photo manager.

Jason

Says:

I just went to ny flickr page this morning and have noticed everything in the past 3 years is gone. It’s looks like I went into a time machine because old sets I deleted are there and the latest photo is from 1/30/2007!!

Mike Eeeee

Says:

I have recently lost all of the more than 2000 photos I had stored on flickr. I have sent messages to both yahoo and flickr- they say they’ll look into it then I never hear from them again. I am beyond disappointed.

I’m paying money… to have my photos thrown away!?

chris2x

Says:

What do you use to upload pictures Mike?

Sebastian Mueller-Soppart

Says:

Everything gone!!! Entire sets. About 2000 shots. Wow, does that make me angry.

chris2x

Says:

How do you post things on flickr?

CancunCanuck

Says:

Glad to have found your post and read the comments, I thought I was losing my mind! Sets keep disappearing on me too, my boss just asked me for a report, I went to check and *gulp* the photos were not there! Yikes….

Christian

Says:

My photos dissapeared too – a whole set of festival pics, so users have been landing on whitespace (I embedded the gallery on my website). God, do not trust flickr!!

james

Says:

All my sets are gone 🙁

Elaine

Says:

I’ve been looking for a specific period of photos from last year and all but about 5 seem to have been lost. I dread to look for the rest just in case I can’t find them at all =S

HT

Says:

Hi I have come across your post because i have experienced the same problem with flickr. At first I thought it was my memory failing me, but it is happening more often, especially on older pics which i have not looked at recently.

Jamie

Says:

The same thing happened to me JUST now. I was googling to see if it had happened to others as well and came across this page. I was uploading photos from my PC and had just sent a few food photos to the Eater food group. I clicked on the thumbnail in the group and somehow it took me to a photo that I’d taken/submitted MUCH earlier. I was puzzled by that and so went to my flickr page. That’s when I noticed that ALL the photos I’d uploaded in the month of April were GONE. I thought I was crazy so checked and double-checked. They simply disappeared. I just sent flickr an email about it and I hope they respond soon.

Sakura Chew

Says:

I know this is an old thread, but this has happened to me just recently! All of my almost 2000 photos are GONE! Save ONE SINGLE PHOTO taken in 2012!

Did they ever resolve the problem for you? Because they have not responded to my complaints. I am thoroughly frustrated! I don’t believe it’s the iCloud or iPhoto.

I am also unable to upload my Instagram posts/photos to Flickr, to back up my photos. Which I used to be able to do! Aargh! Infuriating!

chris2x

Says:

no, I never had a fix for this

Anton

Says:

I lost my entire collection of photos. I don’t know how or why but it made me very angry. I was asked to renew my Yahoo account because I hadn’t used it for years and log in from the new account. When I did everything was gone! I tried logging in from google but it didnt help. Everything gone and the flickr help has been completely useless.

I never upgraded to anything as I was continualy told I hadn’t used even a fraction of my space allowance.

I most certainly wont be using flickr again but would like to retrieve my pictures so I can download them elsewhere……who knows how its like a black hole.

Bob

Says:

Lost an entire album of photos recently.

Forget Flickr as a place for safe storage.

Google seems to have a similar problem.

Two hard drives. Store one at a different physical location. I just got 5 TB for about $130.

James Harrison

Says:

Yes, am experiencing the same problem. Luckily I keep all my original photo files backed-up onto two separate hard drives, in two separate locations. I really only trust online storage for sharing with others. I never, never, never upload my media to the net and expect it to still be there five minutes later, even if I do pay for the service! As you indicate, some photo memories are irreplaceable – it’s not really worth it, is it? The cloud is still a pioneering idea… and ISN’T a guaranteed solution to backing up media.

PJ

Says:

I just got started on Flicker and found that my photos are disappearing. I’ have re uploaded the missing pics 3 times and they disappear again. All my reasearch shows that it’s a common problem. deleting my flicker acct.

William Boni

Says:

My wife uploaded from her phone over 1000 photo’s of the past 3 years of building our home, parties, anniversaries etc. ALL gone, poof, no longer there. Since we are not “pro” customers we are SOL. DONE with this crappy, unreliable service will look at Google photo’s to see if that meets our needs.. My advice: DO NOT USE THIS SERVICE !

Elizabeth Ramsey

Says:

Have also recently noticed photos missing from 2014. They appear to be cell phone shots, which fortunately also go to One Drive. But am very concerned that photos can go missing as our camera shots just go to Flickr. Will need to investigate my Camera Roll on Flickr further.

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