Warning: this article is outdated (written in 2011, last update 2013), it no longer reflect current situation.
Let’s say that you are posting images on forums or you have a free website and you need a third-party site to host images to save bandwidth and CPU usage (like my case). Which is the best image hosting?
unlimited storage 500 photos storage and lots of bandwidth (100 MB per hour for each photo), unlimited image resolution, 5 MB max image size, but it is slowest of all 3, and unreliable.
For some moments, several images were not loading, also over time images are lost . They are still in My Images but are not displayed (I see a blank image). Out of 400 images uploaded during 2009-2011, I in 2012 about 50 of them are gone.(I am talking about images constantly accessed via my website, not about inactive images, which are deleted from My Images too if were not accessed at least once per several months).
I had to upload 3 times the floorplan of Sharpback Small (in Apartment Design page) because after every several months it was deleted for unknown reason, is my design so never mind of claiming for copyright by another person.
I hate Imageshack also because it removes any non alphanumerical characters from filenames, and there’s no way to create albums and organize photos.
It generate unique URL for each image, so is impossible to fix the missing images without editing the links (which is not always possible, especially in forums).
Update: A visitor told me in august 2012 that you can upload max 500 photos. Personally I accumulated about 400 photos in 3 years and was never aware that I am close to a limit.
Photobucket.com had limited storage but got
unlimited bandwidth since early 2012, from March 2013 bandwidth is again limited to 10 GB per month, which until late 2011, was enough for my small website.
I love Photobucket because is easiest to use and I can organize my images. I can make albums, but most important, it preserve file name URLs so I can delete photos and reupload them without no need to update links (my photos can be linked in other websites too, where I cannot update links), or this saves a lot of time if I have photos named like Apartment-1.png, Apartment-2.png, Narrow-House-1.png, Narrow-House- 2.png, etc, when I code the website, I only need to se find/replace to change the “House” into “Narrow-House”.
What I hate is the maximum resolution of 1024×768 and small 10 GB monthly bandwidth. The 1024×768 is default limit but you can change it up to 2048×1536, and the limited bandwidth.
Update: in September 2012 Photobucket added a feature of scrambling file names, to prevent photo URL guessing, useful for people using it for sharing private photos. But this is annoying for who use it to host public photos on websites. Fortunately, it can be disabled, but took me a while to find it, was in Upload options, by this way I found that I can change resolution to max 2048×1536.
Picasa Web Albums, I found in march 2012 that may be a better choice. It offers 1 GB of storage and probably unlimited bandwidth. Image resolution is unlimited for storage but images cannot be displayed on websites at resolution higher than 1600×1600.
It do not truncate hyphens from file names, so they are easily to read, but sadly, it generate unique link for each image so I cannot reupload an image on same link or save time when upload many images with file name template.
All 3 Imageshack, Photobucket and Picasa can be the best but also the worst in some cases.
I assume that most people use them for small images, for sharing images with friends, or having small websites without high traffic. For them, Photobucket would be the best.
If do you have a blog or do you post images on forums where you can’t edit posts once posted (and you want the images to stay visible for long time) you should stay away from Imageshack due to reliability problems, if the blog/forum gets high traffic, you may want to stay away rom Photobucket too due to limited bandwidth. In this case Picasa may be the best.
If you need to share for moment a high-resolution image with online friends, and you don’t care about possible loss of images over time, then Imageshack is the best.
For what do you need an image hosting service?
My personal choice
Originally, when I started this website in 2009, I uploaded all website photos on Imageshack. But now as 2012, I use Photobucket as much is possible, for all photos in The Sims 2 and Caesar 3 pages, for personal photos (I made all at 1024×768) and for floorplans in Singapore page, while for my AutoCAD Designs I keep using Imageshack, because I render all 3D images in high-resolution (2048×1536), and some apartment block floorplans are even larger, for example Linear Large S-16 (3072×2048).
During early 2012, due to rising traffic on website, I have got 3 times warnings that I am approaching Photobucket bandwidth (using 70+% of bandwidth), 3rd time I even reached 100% bandwidth and got all images suspended, luckily this happened just few hours before bandwidth reset date.
I may move some or most of my photos on Picasa, especially the big images, because I risk to exceed photobucket bandwidth due to increasing popularity of Singapore page… undecided yet.
Not necessary anymore, Photobucket got unlimited bandwidth! But not for long! (read below)
Funny-stupid Photobucket case
We all know, Photobucket offer UNLIMITED bandwidth since early 2012.
On 28 February 2013 I had a SUPRISE! Some of my images are no longer displayed. I got this email “You’re approaching the free bandwidth limit! Get unlimited with Photobucket Plus” which normally is given when you reach 70% of bandwidth, but when I logged in Photobucket I said WTF! 17.1 GB used of 10 GB allowed.
How the fuck I have exceeded with 170% without getting any warning? and now I got the warning that I am approaching, anyway, after 30 min I got the email “You’ve hit your free bandwidth limit! Get unlimited with Photobucket Plus” given for reaching 100% of bandwidth.
Next bandwidth reset date was 9 March, could not wait 10 days, so instead of neglecting my daily responsibilities to quickly move 1000+ images on another image hosting, I decided to PAY Premium for 1 month to get unlimited bandwidth, I also submitted a RUDE ticket to Photobucket staff.
Even after payment, the images were not restored. Next day they put a notification that they experience a BUG, if we are Premium and images are not displayed, to submit a ticket and our accounts will be fixed manually. I wrote a second ticket… and images were restored! Finally! My website was text-only for 3 days.
Then, the idiots explained me that the Photobucket NO longer offer unlimited bandwidth, aka the 10 GB limit was set again without any warning, and this bullshit happened because some accounts, were already using more than 10 GB at the moment the limit was set.
For inconvenience caused, they awarded me with 3 months of Premium account FREE of charge. What I should do after these 3 months?
I am no longer using third-party image hosting services
Some people warned me that having images on third-party websites give an unprofessional look. So… I decided to gradually move the images on same paid server where I am hosting the website.
As May 2013 I hosted on own server all images from www.teoalida.com/singapore/hdbfloorplans/ as well as www.teoalida.com/design/ sections of my website, which gets 90% of total website traffic thus eating most bandwidth. The rest of sections such as www.teoalida.com/thesims and www.teoalida.com/offtopic/ will have images moved over next months.
After premium account expired, I monitored bandwidth and was shocked to see how it is growing at an alarming rate of 2 GB per day. Conclusion: 80% of Photobucket bandwidth was consumed not by my website but by people who hotlinked my images on various forums (in forums you cannot host images so you need to upload on a third-party website or link them from where they are already uploaded).
I had to delete the Singapore HDB floor plans images from my Photobucket account to save the bandwidth and prevent all images to be disabled… lots of images in forums, that people linked from me, will appear now as “Image has been moved or deleted“. I am sorry for that but can’t edit the links that are not on my website.