back to article Photobucket says photo-f**k-it, starts off-site image shakedown

Photobucket is cracking down on people embedding on third-party websites images it hosts, until now, for free. The photo-slinging internet elder now says that anyone who wants to use its service to display photos it hosts on other pages – such as signature banners in forum posts – will now need to open up their wallets and …


  1. Alan Sharkey

    Try using instead. Seems OK to me


    1. Trilkhai

      Thanks for suggesting that — I've been trying to find a decent host, as the ones I had been using for the past several years have all either merged, shut down, or switched to crappy interfaces.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Third party hosting?

    That's a weird definition of "hosting". I guess what they mean is external linking?

  3. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Just logged into photobucket

    I just use(d) it as an extra backup store for some snaps. Remembered why I pretty much stopped a year or two back.It used to be very user-friendly. Then it got so much pushier and messier. It lost the feel of a nice little useful website for storing pictures (as noted above, the clue's in the name) and started to be a big business money grubber. Maybe they weren't making enough for it to have remained sustainable. Maybe they just got greedy. Either way to me it's just another site gone the way of Friends Reunited, from useful to ruthless to useless.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    As has been pointed out $400/yr buys you a nice virtual host with 2Gb RAM and 2Tb storage, plus a domain name which can be had for around $10-$15 when they're not on offer, or $1-$5 otherwise.

    You would need to be hosting an awful lot of pics on their site to make it worthwhile paying that sort of money to them.

    Btw, I am trying to check their pricing plans (no, not going to sign up), but the site seems awfully unresponsive.

    Ah, ok, it's loaded. They have $60/yr, $100/yr, and $400/yr options (and equivalent monthly plans at a 20% premium). Only the $400/yr plan offers what they call "third party hosting", which to me sounds like you get to host your pics elsewhere so not entirely sure why you would pay them $400 for, but who knows, maybe it's one of those "it's expensive so it must be good" marketing tricks.

    Anyway, the site looks like something out of 2005 alright. It may be time for them to thrown in the bucket (har! har! and the towel, and the sponge, and the water bottle)?

    1. Tannin

      Re: $400

      Actually. $400 a year doesn't buy you a virtual host, it buys you about 10 of them. Cheap hosting on a shared server provides way more than you were getting on Photobucket, and it costs about one-tenth of the insane price they are asking.

      $400 PA on a virtul hosting is quite expensive, but may be worth it depending on how much you care about 24/7 * 365 reliability and a help desk that speaks a language known to most people in your country.

      1. moiety

        Re: $400

        $5/yr with cPanel and 75Gb storage. You could have 80 of those for one Photobucket account price.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: $400

        > $400 PA on a virtul hosting is quite expensive, but may be worth it depending on how much you care about 24/7 * 365 reliability and a help desk that speaks a language known to most people in your country.

        Yes exactly. My own personal hosting bill is at around $600/yr but that includes about a dozen servers, about 1.5 Tb, and (crucially) lots of IPv4 interfaces, which are quite expensive. But I imagine if you are prepared to pay $400/yr, you would want that sort of quality and capacity out of it.

        If you do not care much about redundancy, performance, capacity, or convenience, you could get some change out of $50/yr, or even do it free by hosting your pics in something like Farcebook or Github or whatever.

    2. Alistair Silver badge

      Re: $400

      "Anyway, the site looks like something out of 2005 alright. It may be time for them to thrown in the bucket (har! har! and the towel, and the sponge, and the water bottle)?"

      && Baby, Bathwater, tub....

      I feel sorry that you exposed yourself to that mess. Have one of these to help out....

  5. Giles C

    Loads of alternatives

    I don't use photobucket - my Personal preference zenfolio I am a customer and have the unlimited hosting and sales package for £100 per year other packages are available

    The image file is cheaper £5 per month iirc

    smugmug not sure of the prices.

    Any of these will host images for a smaller fee and you can link to them directly without any problems.

    Nothing is free these days.... well air currently is

  6. DrRobert

    I don't understand why this is a big issue

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Why it's an issue

      After 8 minutes to a day a post can't be edited.

      So people might have thousands of old posts that are not "useless". They can only continue using their images by paying the $400.

      Alternate better solutions only work for the future. I decided an ISP solution was bad about 2001 or 2002 and realised I needed a bunch of domain names. They still work when you change provider.

      But for EXISTING posts on 3rd party websites, people need to pay the $400 to keep the images. It seems a bit greedy and counterproductive, surely they would have more than 8 times as many customers at $50 p.a.

      Unless maybe they are flogging the business next week and don't care.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Why it's an issue

        So as another poster said, what if Photobucket were to just disappear? Same effect, and now ABSOLUTELY no recourse.

        1. moiety

          Re: Why it's an issue

          At $400/year, they probably are going to just disappear.

  7. GrapeBunch Bronze badge

    ( ! )

    Colleagues south of 49 may say that the remedy to: bait and switch, is: point and shoot. Or not.

    In the old-fashioned world of web pages, the move would be fairly easy, with a bulk search and replace of / with /, then re-up the pages. Old days, old ways.

  8. Trilkhai

    Full site hosting's not easy for everyone...

    A bunch of people have commented that PhotoBucket's users could switch to a cheap full site host for far less money than PB's extortionate fee — while technically true, the reason a lot of those people were using PB because they lack the skills needed to host their own site. I'm fairly technically capable, wrote/hosted my own site & blog from 1996-2003, and I find modern 'tools' like C-Panel too much of a pain in the ass to bother with, so I sure wouldn't expect the less-technical crowd to deal with it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Full site hosting's not easy for everyone...

      > A bunch of people have commented that PhotoBucket's users could switch to a cheap full site host for far less money than PB's extortionate fee — while technically true, the reason a lot of those people were using PB because they lack the skills needed to host their own site.

      I believe that was used as an example of just how unrealistic their pricing is. In practice there are hundreds of other sites where you can host pictures for free which non-technical users can handle.

      By the way, upvoted for typographically correct use of em-dashes.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Full site hosting's not easy for everyone...

      Well yeah, cPanel is literally worse than just editing all the underlying linux text configs.

      1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

        Re: Full site hosting's not easy for everyone...

        And yet, still miles better than Plesk....

        I suspect the reason OP has issues with CPanel is because he has a reasonable idea of where thing should reasonably be, how they should be configured etc. Cpanel on the other hand is designed to be usable by the less technical, so things aren't located where we would expect to find them.

        I've seen and dealt with far worse than CPanel, so I'd choose it over them, but at the end of the day I'm much happier just hopping on over port 22.

        1. Korev Silver badge

          Re: Full site hosting's not easy for everyone...

          Also it means that the host doesn't need to let you have access to a terminal. They can then only "offer" that on their more expensive products.

  9. Jason Hindle

    They got greedy

    I pay a relatively small annual fee for my Flickr and SmugMug sites, with no such limitation. Compared to SmugMug in particular, the Photobucket galleries aren't terribly attractive. I'm sure many long time users would pay a reasonable amount to make this problem go away, but $400 is absurd.

  10. John Munyard

    I've just stopped using Photobucket altogether and moved elsewhere. I occasionally linked my photo gallaries to forum posts but the thing that pi$$ed me off is that they recently started restricting the resolution of photos hosted there to a miserable 1280x720. Absolutely useless for photographers.

    Over 20 years I've seen many Internet companies get too bit for thier own egos, and screw thier businesses up, Yahoo! and MySpace amongst them.

    Photobucket's rather grandiose and pompous assessment of the value of it's subscription at $400 is almost beyond being mocked. Goodbye FB, you're just made yourselves ridiculously irrelevant.

  11. Haku

    Someone should start their own free/low cost image hosting called "Liza"

    "There's a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza,

    There's a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, a hole."

  12. Dapprman
    Thumb Down

    As a paying Photobucket subsciber ...

    I've never been that impressed by their service.

    I originally used WebShots, as they were the first photo hosting site where the limit was number of pictures, not data capacity, plus their limit increased the longer you were a member. Think it was +100 photos per month for leachers (like me) and 1000 for subscriber. Alas their business model (prints, mugs, etc) obviously did not work and so they changed their system completely, right down to removing all albums (glad I never paid). I went to Photobucket as they seemed decent and I wanted to keep my flickr account just to my 'arty' shots - I used WebShots for holiday and group photos. Even took out a lower end subscription for more capacity, which I've had for about 4 years now. Always found the website slightly clunky and iOS and Android apps refuse to show photos in the correct order (always doing date reverse), but it worked for my purposes and I could cross link photos to forums if I liked.

    Now that little used, but useful functionality has been removed from me it does make me wonder if I should drop my subscription and look else where (I need albums and the ability to restrict access to some - such as for photos from friends weddings).

    Oddly enough, for general fomu posting I've always used

  13. ecofeco Silver badge

    Just think of the search engine effect

    This is really going to screw up a lot of search engine results.

    Can't wait to see the results.

  14. Kincaid

    Holding images as hostages.

    I just find the whole thing sad and funny at the same time. Okay, nice job Photobucket. Sure, you'll get some people willing to pay you but did you really think this through first? Good riddance.

  15. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    The trend from "free" to "paid"

    This trend has already started with various techniques persuading people to either pay or go away (I mentioned OneDrive earlier in this thread). We would think that the likes of Google would be more professional, more ethical than this, but let me ask the question anyway...

    Suppose, just suppose that one day you fired up Google, typed something in, and up comes a paywall. What would you do?

    Then you login to Gmail, and same paywall.

    Now postulate the same with Microsoft's free email service.

    The first day it happens will be the day you are expecting a super-urgent email. So you pay the ransom, it may be a few pence. But supply and demand, lack of competition, that nominal amount will balloon, given time.

    This is the reason you need to keep control. To keep your systems on-premises.

    All these companies are monitoring the unfolding of the PhotoBucket shambles and discussing how they would do the same thing better. Maybe PhotoBucket had some urgent financial constraint to meet, hence the sudden hike. But you can bet your life that other players will play their cards in a more orderly fashion, so as not to let on their true agenda.

  16. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Let me suggest an exchange....

    If you make money out of the internet

    You should pay some money back too the internet.

    Just a thought.

  17. wayne 8

    Bitcoin would make it okay.

    It would be okay if Bitcoin was accepted payment method?

  18. kain preacher Silver badge

    Lets see, go daddy is offering cheap 100gb if data hosting for three years prepaid at $215 and that L and them doing back up for you. Oh and office 360 mail. $251 gets you unlimited data unlimited websites

    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      them doing back up for you. Oh and office 360 mail. $251 gets you unlimited data unlimited websites

      The Marketing and Technical Departments are like the Public Library where there's some kind of segregation between the Fiction and Reference areas.

      Back ups: Some big players have been caught out when their systems go down.

      Unlimited. There is a limit. It's just that you don't know what that limit is. It might not even be a hard limit, it may well involve such things as bandwidth used.

      Look at the History section and it is easy to verify each of these two are promises that cannot be guaranteed.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Several years ago

    Photobucket were caught selling their customers email addys and other private details.

    I dumped em on principal then. My decision was wise it would appear.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Blah blah blah

    "My free stuff that I've never given a fuck about supporting but is free, now isn't free, even though it's a business with overheads, but no, I want my free back."

    Blah blah. How often does this happen? All the time.

    People need to realise that stuff isn't free on the internet. There's always a cost, somewhere.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Blah blah blah

      No one denies that.

      It's the manner that grates.

  21. MJI Silver badge

    I am emptying it now

    Good job I do have my own hosting but then tonight I need to waste time changing my web site

  22. MJI Silver badge

    Just closing it now

    Downloading all my images and deleting the albums

  23. imanidiot Silver badge

    Once again, the few screw the pooch for the many

    It's not the small users hosting some images for a forum that cost too much bandwidth, but I've recently seen for instance eBay sellers hosting all their pictures on Photobucket. And some that host hundreds of high res pictures and spam them all over the place, including high traffic sites. It's sad they don't run an option for a limited bandwidth cheap option. $400 is just excessive for hosting a forum banner and some smaller pictures I have posted on some low traffic relatively obscure internet fora.

  24. The New Turtle

    I wonder if this was always the plan?

    About 3 years ago, having been with 'free' PB for a long time, I used up the 'free' bandwidth and paid for another 10GB. Entirely fine.

    At the same time I enquired about using photobucket as a proper hosting site for my image galleries, but the only paid account option they had still showed adverts to visitors - there was no 'pro' gallery option to showcase customer's work. On that basis I continued using them to host images on other sites, but there was no future for them as a pro gallery, so I looked elsewhere.

    When I have had the misfortune to visit using a browser without ad blocking, the experience has not been pleasant. When visiting as I have been, with decreasing frequency recently, there have been nagging popups asking that I consider paying extra for the bandwidth I'm using, and I very nearly succumbed, except that I barely use them now.

    I'm grateful for the years of free image hosting, but can only consider that they have just decided that they don't want to continue running the site any more.

  25. earl grey Silver badge

    rattlesnake in a pinata... ®

    Ok, I'll bite...erm....

    New keyboard please; I may have to borrow that phrase. Let me know where to send the payments.

  26. Marty McFly


    Not a heavy Photobucket user. Have a few threads locked on a few forums in the 'top subjects' sections that are full of Photobucket pictures. I guess those threads are hosed now.

    I understand their business decision. IMHO, it would have been much better if they grandfathered in existing content and made the change relevant to new uploads. That would have kept them from breaking tons on existing legacy Internet content.

    Fail, for being bad stewards of Internet content.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Direct views of your images/videos on Photobucket does not use any bandwidth"

    New tech developed by PhotoBog?

  28. DaddyHoggy

    Photobucket have done me a favour. All my old screenshots on various forums scattered around the Internet are now effectively dead.

    This is probably the final push I needed to get me to invest in my own domain and pay for my own online storage space, just like I did 10-15yrs ago before I got lazy and sites like Photobucket encouraged you to use them with (at the time), nicer UIs and management tools...

    I got lazy, my bad, it won't happen again.

  29. John Munyard

    Sod them

    Been with them for 11 years. Closed my account last night and told them why in thier feedback.

    If they don't want the clicks and advertising then there are plenty of others who do.

    1. cathyk2002

      Re: Sod them

      Agree with this

      I use it for a Fan Forum as not everyone has Twitter/Facebook/Instagram etc to see the celebs pics and often just visit the Forum to see what is going on etc and now all the pics I have linked have now vanished from the Forum and been replaced with 'that' logo !!!!! Now shopping around for a 'free' hosting website

  30. killakittyclaws

    well ill tell you one thing it doesnt take an html guru to find their photo url on ANY site that allows photo sharing. and what is photobucket but a site based off browsing "other peoples photos"? what im getting at is basically photobucket is generating revenue already from peoples shared photos. ( because other peoples photos is what brings users. ) they are benefitting from ads and running a pay for no ads service to every user and then now want to turn around and further benefit from your photos by charging you to share you own photo. they are benefiting more than the user is benefiting if you ask me. and frankly it will cause them to lose what they had eventually. they might burn bright for a little while but it will last only until people start figuring out they can host and post the urls from the other free sites available to them. im no fortune telling seer but it doesnt take a seer to see that photobucket will crumble to dust sooner than later for it.


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