A reader recently asked, “Do you really think SkyDrive can be a good alternative to Flickr?” Since that question calls for an opinion this was just the ticket for an article. Still, by nature, I had to check a little into the facts. The facts are that there are many differences and these make the comparison difficult. I all depends on what you expect from the service.
Let’s take a quick look at Flickr.
The motto on the Flickr site is “Share your life in photos”. This is a sharing site, with the emphasis on sharing with the world. You can explore other people’s photos, search by subject or name. There are more than five billion photos on the site, all available to any visitor.
Flickr makes uploading easy, it can be done in the browser, by email, or through many applications. Sharing too, is easy. You can invite friends to your site, post on Facebook and Twitter, share by email or posting in blogs.
The photos and tags are open to search engines and you can readily find photos on Flickr by searching with Google, Bing, or the others.
Flickr allows arranging photos in “sets”, what others call albums, and makes the presentation attractive for individual photos or in slide shows.
Flickr offers free accounts as well as “Flickr Pro” accounts (about $25/year).
The free accounts have two serious limitations: Only reduced size images are accessible (1024 pixels larger dimension max) and only the most recent 200 photos are shown. There is no access to the full resolution photos that you uploaded. The “Pro” account lifts all those restrictions, but that might not be the solution for a lot of us.
Now about SkyDrive
The concept of SkyDrive is drastically different. SkyDrive is your personal and very private “attic in the cloud”. SkyDrive is primarily for your own use. You can share with friends by email, on social sites, and within your Windows Live groups.
Although photos and albums can be marked “share with Everyone (public)”, access is very obscure. SkyDrive is not open to search engines, there is no easy web address you can share.
Albums are displayed in a gorgeous show of mini slide shows for albums or proportionally scaled thumbnails of the photos. The presentation of photos is attractive and can be viewed as slide shows.
When sharing, the emails are attractive and provide quick links to the shared photo or album.
So what is the answer to the initial question, is SkyDrive a good alternative to Flickr? As with so many questions, the answer must begin “It depends…”.
If you wish to share your photos with the world, have your photos available to strangers as well as friends, the answer is clearly that Flickr must be your choice.
For storing large number of photos, for having the full resolution versions available, you can’t beat SkyDrive.
When you have websites or blogs and wish to have access to a large store for your images, SkyDrive has the edge. However, many blogs provide easy links with mini slide shows for Flickr photos. You can find an example in the sidebar at the right (This ‘n That).
I am indebted to Ganesh Dhamodkar for asking the seminal question in a comment to my post “Getting the URL of a SkyDrive photo is easy again”. SkyDrive has undergone a lot of changes recently and more are expected. Similarly, Google has been making a lot of alterations to Picasaweb with the introduction of Google+ and Google+ Photos. The concern behind the question cannot be addressed easily, what works today may be different tomorrow. We live in “interesting times” as the old Chinese curse has it.
© 2011 Ludwig Keck