SkyDrive and Flickr – alternative or complement?

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.

imageThe 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.image

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.

imageFlicker allows access to photos by other services and there are many interesting ways to show your work.

Flickr offers free accounts as well as “Flickr Pro” accounts (about $25/year).

LJK_3606-1024The 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. imageSkyDrive 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.

There are some significant benefits: Each free SkyDrive account provides 25 GB of online storage for photos and documents. The full resolution photos are accessible, even huge panoramas. image

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.

imageUploading is straightforward in the browser with a drag-and-drop interface. When using Windows Live Photo Gallery uploading is just a matter of selecting the photos and clicking the SkyDrive link.

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

About Ludwig

Lending a helping hand where I can. . . My motto: If it is worth doing, it is worth doing well.
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8 Responses to SkyDrive and Flickr – alternative or complement?

  1. Geoff Coupe says:

    As you say, the two services are very different – one is primarily a social network centred around sharing photos (and videos), the other is primarily a cloud storage service for individuals that can be using for sharing photos with friends and others.

    I use both, but I started using Flickr first (SkyDrive didn’t exist at the time), and then really only as a cloud storage service. Given what I know now, and the sort of usage I make of them, then I doubt that, if I were starting over again, I’d use Flickr. I suspect that Skydrive would fulfill my particular needs sufficiently.

    My Flickr subscription comes up for renewal this year. I need to give some serious thought about what I’m going to do about that.

    • Ludwig says:

      I too am conflicted with what to do about Flickr. I am within a few photos of the 200 limit. Stop and post no more, settle for showing only the recent most 200, or pay?

  2. Olivia says:

    I found your article very informative. Learn about Google + as well(will look at that also). Just like you, I am also looking for permanent user sites for sharing my pictures. Thank you!

  3. Beatrice P. Boyd says:

    Ludwig, currently, I am not using either of these, but only posting photos on our blog. Sometimes, just doing that takes an inordinate amount of time, so that for now I don’t have the need or time to post online photo galleries. I do think that SkyDrive sounds more appealing, based on your comparison. Thanks, as always for the in-depth analysis.

    • Ludwig says:

      Hello Beatrice, thank you for the kind comments. Do you use Live Writer for creating your posts? I find it very useful.

  4. Eric says:

    Flickr was the first to allow full original file storage. which is why i signed up 5 or so years ago. I am a pro member.
    As of today, sets, and tag searching is the only thing keeping me from dumping flickr. Once skydrive adds that, im gone. Flickr really left a bad taste in my mouth when they decided to enable the ever popular “people tags” for flickr only members. wtf cares about that? windows live photo gallery supports auto recognition of people. this transfers seamlessly to skydrive. I give skydrive the advantage at this point. just wish it was more manageable as far as sets, and searching.

    • Geoff Coupe says:

      “As of today, sets, and tag searching is the only thing keeping me from dumping flickr. Once skydrive adds that, im gone”.

      Tag searching is the only sticking point for me. I can use Albums in place of Sets, but I do miss tag support.

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