Using Flickr to host web site images - Shawn Oster
Shawn Oster (gravatar)

Using Flickr to host web site images

I've noticed a disturbing trend by certain web developers to host their site's images on flickr. This is a HORRIBLE idea in so many ways so if you're thinking of using flickr to serve up your static images consider the following:

1. Flickr is an evolving service.  This means that there will be downtime, system upgrades and perhaps even changing URLs.  All of which can lead to slow load times or even broken links.

2. Flickr is public facing.  What I mean by this is that they're a self-described photo sharing web-site where most people use the flickr site to browse and manage photos.  A ramification of this is that if your site gets dugg all those hosted image requests are going to hammer the flickr site and perhaps slow down all the "real" flickr users which can in turn lead to your account being banned.  It's in flickr's best interest to watch out for it's main users, NOT for people using it as a way to get around bandwidth restrictions.

3. Annoying for users.  I came across this one today.  Someone had a series of screen shots in their blog and I wanted to see one full size, so like I've done a hundred times I clicked on the image.  Usually you expect to see a larger version of the image but this time I ended up on flickr, showing me an even smaller thumbnail.  To see the full-size version I had to actually log in to flickr and then click on "All Sizes".  This was highly annoying and a very poor user experience.

If you are really looking for a good off-site static image host so you're not blowing your monthly bandwidth allocation try a service that was actually meant for it.  My suggestion would be Amazon's S3 service.  It was actually meant for exactly this type of thing and their rates are very reasonable, probably  under a buck most months.

Flickr is an awesome photo sharing and exploring site, but it makes much more sense to use it for actual photos.


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