Compare Online Image Hosting: Flickr vs Picasa

Everyone loves taking digital photos. It's fun and easy. If you are an avid web surfer or blogger, you may have stumbled upon an image hosting site. The 2 most popular image hosting services today are Flickr and Picasa. While they are focused on image hosting, they do offer limited video hosting. Both Flickr and Picasa start you off with a "free" account and they give you the option to upgrade later. Let's look at what each service has to offer. Why should you use an image hosting site? How do they work? And most importantly, which one is best for you? I have used both Flickr and Picasa and I will go over the advantages and disadvantages of both.


First, let's start with Flickr. Flickr is the go-to image hosting site that had naturally replaced photobucket as the leading service provider for free image hosting. Flickr is owned by Yahoo! and is very popular amongst young bloggers and photography enthusiasts. You can view other people's photos by tags, location, date, and even sort them by the camera they used to snap the picture. Flickr allows for a and puts a big emphasis on social networking. By tagging your photos and sharing it, you can get many views and comments. For a casual user like myself and those who are wondering what Flickr and Picasa is all about, let's look at their free service.


With Flickr's free service, you are allowed 100MB of uploading bandwidth per month each month. In theory, you can have unlimited storage with a free account but in my opinion, I hit the bandwidth cap in 1 day. Not something I was happy about. Anyone with a good 10 plus MP digital camera will quickly reach the upload cap in a single day of moderate shooting. In order to throttle your available bandwidth, you have to either upload fewer files per month, re-size your picture to a smaller resolution, or both. You are also allowed 2 video uploads limited to 90 seconds each.  
 


Flickr gives you the option to upgrade your account for $25 per year. With a "pro" account, you get unlimited uploads and storage, unlimited sets (folders), access to the original file, stats for your account, HD playback option on your videos and unlimited video uploads (though still limited to 90 seconds). Flickr makes uploading and sharing photos social. People are encouraged to make their pictures public so others can search for them and add comments too. The social aspects of Flickr also comes with it a set of strict community guidelines such as no profanity, nudity, and hot-linking. Also you cannot use Flickr for commercial purposes. This means no using it to make money.


Picasa is the direct alternative to Flickr. Picasa is owned by Google which seems fitting since Google and Yahoo! have been competing against each other since the early years of the web. Picasa offers much of the same features as Flickr but they branch off in their intended purpose.  
 


For the free account, Picasa start you off with 1024 MB of storage which equates to a little over a GB. Unlike Flickr, Picasa does not have a bandwidth limit. This means you can use it all up in a single day if you wish. Picasa allows you to access your uploaded pictures in it's original quality. This means you can re-download your picture and have it the way you upload it rather than a scaled down version.


Picasa is also more flexible than Flickr. Since it is owned by Google, Android powered devices and other Google services offer near seamless integration. For example, if you have an Android smart phone, it is very easy to take a picture on your phone and upload it to Picasa. No need to mount your phone's SD card and transfer it to your computer in order to upload it to Picasa. To be fair, there are third party apps on many smart phones that allow easy upload to Flickr but having Picasa integrate into Google accounts is a sweet deal if you are a heavy Google user. You can create contact groups such as friends and family on your Google account and share certain albums to certain groups. This makes it easy to control which people view what photos. Create a group for coworkers and only allow them to see non-personal pictures. Best of all, these contact groups stay with your Google account and sort in related services like Gtalk.


You can upload pictures to Picasa and Flickr through your browser but Google offers Picasa as a program you can download. Picasa runs on Windows XP/Vista, Mac OS X, and Linux. The program is very good. It allows you to upload pictures in batches much like ftp. You can literally upload hundreds of pictures with a few clicks. The program also can re-size the photos on the fly optimizing it for web. For example if you want to upload an 8 MB picture and only have it for the web, you can upload your picture with Picasa and tell it to re-size your picture accordingly. This makes uploading large amounts of photos easy.


There are third party programs you can download that have both Flickr and Picasa API's. This basically means you can do batch uploads with other programs but out of the 2 image hosting services, Picasa is the only one so far that offers a dedicated program they officially support. This is really great! So far I have not had any big complaints on my Linux version of Picasa.  
 


Google offers upgrades for Picasa's service in a slightly different way Yahoo! has done with Flickr. If you want to upgrade your Picasa account, you are only offered storage since you don't have a bandwidth cap. When you buy storage, instead of buying storage for your Picasa web photo albums, you buy storage that is shared with your Google account. For example, if you purchase 20 GB of extra storage, this is shared with Gmail, Picasa Web Albums, and Google Docs. Think of the upgrade as a Google account upgrade. There are several upgrade plans to choose from. If we are to compare it to Flickr's yearly upgrade, you would have to buy 80 GB at $20 plus 20 GB at $5 for a total of 100 GB of storage for $25 per year.  
 


Picasa's program policies is similar to Flickr's. No porn, hateful, illegal, violent, spam, and impersonations allowed. Unlike Flickr, you are allowed to monetize your pictures with the exception of commercial pornography. It seems like Flickr Is rated PG while Picasa is holding a PG-13 rating.


While there are many apparent similarities, Flickr and Picasa aim at a slightly different audience with slightly different needs. Flickr clearly is focusing on the social aspect of photo sharing while Picasa aims for ease of use and convenient integration with Google services and Android. For the free service that each provide, I do find Picasa to win over Flickr. This is mainly due to the 100 MB monthly bandwidth limit compared to the unlimited bandwidth you get from Picasa. While you have a 1 GB cap of storage space on Picasa and no limit on Flickr, it would take you 10 months to break even with Picasa and surpass it from there on. Another thing that I found annoying was the limited access you get from Flickr compared to Picasa. Why do I have to upgrade to get access to my pictures at their original file size? This is like a bully stealing your lunch money and then dangling it over your head insulting you with it.  
 


For the paid service, I would rank Picasa above Flickr also but not without a second look. You do get unlimited bandwidth and storage with Flickr while 100 GB of shared storage with Picasa but this battle only benefits Flickr if you plan on uploading over 100 GB of pictures per year. The ease of use of Picasa and integration with Google accounts is the deciding factor for me. It's just much more convenient. Plus if I am uploading over 100 GB of pictures and I'm not allowed to make money out of it then that seems rather pointless to me. I'm not too big on the social aspect of Flickr and that factor doesn't sell it for me. Also, I won't even consider the video upload service as I find it laughable that Flickr only allows 90 second clips. We have Youtube or Vimeo if we want a video host. In my opinion, I think Picasa wins over Flickr in both the free and paid version of their service. Google has been doing quite well in the last few years. It's one thing to say, "Whatever Google touches turn into gold." But it may also be true that Google only touch things that are golden. Is Picasa one of them? Thank you for reading.


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Comments 2 comments

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nowavenowave 6 years ago from United Kingdom

this was really useful. im looking for a online image backup whilst travelling. 20GB+. picasa with upgrades looks like a definitie. just need to find another. thanks for the comparison.


Stefan 5 years ago

Just a technical correction in your article. 1024 MB is not slightly over 1 GB. It is the exact amount of 1 GB.

1024 KB = 1 MB

1024 MB = 1 GB

1024 GB = 1 TB

etc...

Otherwise, fantastic article. Definitely answered all of my questions about both services. Much appreciated. =)

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