Langa Letter: Analyzing New Kinds Of Image-Sharing Services
If videos or photos are part of your work, these new services can help, Fred Langa says.
PBase (see above, as well); by subscription, starting at $23 per year for 300-Mbytes of storage; supports jpg, gif, and png file types, and Zip or TAR compressed collections of jpg, gif and png files. Allows direct hotlinking to your images, so your users don't have to go through Pbase pages to see your photos. No ads appear on the Pbase site pages. The TOS ("terms of service") specifies no porn or offensive content, and appears to be well enforced.
Putfile; free (ad supported); allows jpg, gif, png files (maximum file size 2-Mbyte each); wmv, avi, mpg, mov, asf, asx, mp4, 3g2 (max: 10-Mbyte each), mp3, mid, wav, midi (max: 10-Mbyte each), swf (max: 10-Mbyte each). No hotlinking allowed (your uploaded files must be viewed in the context of a Putfile page, with its ads). Main ads are by Google, and aren't offensive. TOS specifies no porn or offensive content, and appears to be well enforced.
TinyPic; free (ad supported; also accepts donations); allows png, gif, jpg, bmp (max size 250-Kbyte per image); creates a compact "tinyURL" style final link. No hotlinking. Main ads are by Google, and are not offensive. TOS specifies no porn or offensive content, and appears to be well enforced.
ImageHosting; free (ad supported) and paid; no allowable file types specified, other than "image;" free account offers 10-Mbyte total storage, 10-Mbyte of download bandwidth per day. Paid accounts offer up to 2-Gbyte storage and 1-Gbyte daily traffic; costs range from $18 to $153 per year, depending on level of service desired. On free pages, main ads are by Google, and aren't offensive. Hotlinking is allowed. TOS specifies no porn or offensive content, and appears to be well enforced.
Photobucket; free (ad supported) and paid; accepts jpg, gif, png, bmp, swf (max size 250-Kbyte per image, 25-Mbyte total storage space, and 1.5-Gbyte of bandwidth per month for free account; 1-Mbyte per image and 1-Gbyte total storage for paid account, with no bandwidth restrictions. Paid accounts ($9 for three months to $25 per year) also allow image upload by FTP, E-mail, or Windows XP Publishing. Hotlinking is allowed. TOS specifies no porn or offensive content, and appears to be well enforced.
RipWay; free and paid; any file type (including MP3, hence the "ripway" name); free account offers 30-Mbytes of storage, plus unlimited downloads for yourself, and 10-Mbytes of daily bandwidth allowance for public access to your files. Paid service is $5 to $40 per month, and offers up to 400-Mbytes of storage and 4-Gbytes or monthly bandwidth for downloads. Hotlinking is allowed in premium accounts. TOS specifies no porn or offensive content.
ZippyVideos free (ad supported); allows avi, mpg, wmv, asf, 3gp, mov, rm, swf; anonymous upload 10-Mbytes per file max; free registration increases size limit to 20-Mbytes per file. Main ads are by Google, and aren't offensive. No hotlinking allowed. Has a "family filter" and a special "18+" category to try to segregate potentially offensive content into one area; appears to be reasonably well enforced.
YourFileHost; free (ad supported); allows all file types, (not just images, video, audio) with a maximum size of 50-Mbytes per file. Main ads are by Google, and are not offensive; "partner site" list may contain suggestive names. TOS specifies no porn or offensive content, but appears to be only loosely enforced; this won't affect your own content, but if your visitors explore the site beyond the content that you post, they may encounter inappropriate material.
RapidShare; free (ad supported) and paid; unusual in that there are few restrictions on the upload side, other than a 50-Mbyte file-size limit. Apparently all file types (not just images, audio, video) are allowed. The site puts its restrictions on the download side: Free accounts allow only one download at a time, make the downloader step through several pages before actually beginning the download, and have limits on the available bandwidth. Premium accounts allow for parallel downloads (up to 200 simultaneous users), lift the bandwidth restrictions, and provide support for download accelerators and broken-download recovery; and the downloads start immediately, without having to step through intervening pages. Premium subscriptions are available by day or longer, prices start at about $1 for a 24-hour subscription, and go down to about 25-cents a day for a 6-month subscription. Uploaded images aren't browseable by the public; you have to know the URL of a specific file/image to get in. This means that it doesn't matter what other subscribers have uploaded to their parts of the service; your visitors will only see the files/images for which you've provide specific URLs. Hotlinking is allowed on premium accounts, but not for free accounts.
Flurl; free (ad-supported); allows wmv, asf, mpeg, mpg, avi, swf, jpg, gif, mp3, wav (max size 10-Mbyte each) file types; "Porn and illegal content is not allowed," but this restriction apparently is only loosely enforced; also has "mature" upload/search to segregate some of the more potentially offensive content.
The Good, The Bad....
All the above just scratches the surface of this burgeoning field, as this Google search suggests. There are many, many other services -- but many of those include content that only the most desensitized person would find inoffensive; many are not safe for work, and are definitely not "family-friendly."
And that's where you come in. I've tried the services above, and have found them to be the best of the bunch. (You should have seen the ones I didn't list. No, on second thought, it's just as well you didn't!) But I'm sure there are other good file/image/video/audio hosting services out there.
What's your experience with image, video, and other file-sharing services? Which have you used, and to what effect? Have the free services been adequate, or do the fee-based services offer enough to justify the price? Which are the good, the bad, and the "must-avoid?" Join in the discussion!
To discuss this column with other readers, please visit Fred Langa's forum on the Listening Post.
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