Free storage? Tell us what you think

By PhotoBox 7 years ago29 Comments
Home  /  PhotoBox News  /  Company News  /  Free storage? Tell us what you think

I spend a lot of my time these days managing our technology budget, and in particular our photo storage. We have billions of photos online and the costs add up. Since we don’t charge for storage these costs have to get passed on to the customer in our product prices.

So I’m interested to know how you feel about striking the right balance between free storage and low prices. You may have noticed that we used to enforce a storage quota of 1GB, but in recent months that quota has been removed. This is partly because we wanted time to develop a quota system that was easier to understand, and also because we wanted to study how our customers used the site without the restriction of a quota.

At one extreme we could have unlimited photo storage forever with no strings attached. Definitely the Rolls Royce solution but the most expensive. At the other end of the spectrum we could have no permanent storage or a small amount of permanent storage enforced by a quota. And there are lots of options in between.

So here are some ideas for you to ponder…

  • What if we were to offer unlimited storage for ACTIVE customers, where you have to make an order once every 6 months to keep your photos alive. Is that fair?
  • How about going back to the old quota system? Is 1GB a fair allowance these days? What about a nice simple 1000 photos instead (given that photos are often bigger than 1MB each from modern cameras)?
  • We used to offer some extra quota for each order you placed? 200GB or maybe 200 photos? Is that fair and does it make sense (customers who are more active on our service get more space than inactive customers)?
  • How many of you actually value having permanent storage on our site? Do you tend to upload and order once and never access the photos again? Should the default be that the photos only stay on your account for 30 days, unless you choose to save them in a permanent album?
  • Do you consider Photobox to be a secure backup of photos on your hard-disk or do you use more specialised services for that?
  • If you order photobooks or calendars do you expect those photos to stay online or only temporarily while you are designing the product?
  • Finally, if you are a pro gallery owner what is your view? Do you expect more space that a non-gallery member, and how do we fairly allocate space between a very active seller and a gallery owner who sells no photos?

Your views would be very much appreciated and will help us to shape the future direction of the service.

Regards

Graham
Chief Technology Being

Categories:
  Company NewsTips on using the Website and Apps
this post was shared 0 times
 000
About

 PhotoBox

  (448 articles)

29 Comments

  • Lissard says:

    Think it’s fair to expect customers who store data on your site to occasionally buy something from you – all those disks cost money. I post my photos on your site and every so often I create a photobook or order prints. Reckon I do this a couple of times a year. For me the least attractive option is the one that removes the files every 30 days – if you did this I think I’d have to go elsewhere. The very first suggestion is fair I would say. Before deleting data there is always the option of providing the option of a backup CD-R – I think you sold something like this some years ago.

    One final point on a somewhat different note – photo sharing on the new site still does not match what you provided previously. Up until May 2008 I was always able to see who accessed the albums I shared – this has now disappeared. Once I share something I have no way of knowing if anyone looked at it. I’m now less inclined to share my photos on Photobox – this has to impact on the subsequent orders generated through my family and friends.

  • I always liked the 200GB per order extra. As pro gallery customers we have plenty of orders to put through form our customers so always had masses of space. Even on our personal gallery (Kept for family photos) we always had plenty, After all what is th price of a print and postage compared to the old method of having to spend £9.99 on extra storage? I’m sure everyone can find a photo they would like to have as a print for themselves. If not for you why not order an extra one to make a friend or family member smile. It’s not like you can’t put the photos into the temporary album and then transfer them over after you have ordered a print. This also keeps people using their account.

  • John says:

    Good Evening Graham, Unlimited storage for active customers especially in the pro galleries sounds good, some of my albums/collections have been with you for some years and I still get sales from them. 1000 photographs..would be of no use to myself and I would say likewise to many users of the pro galleries. I think that if you are selling photographs you should receive more space as needed.

  • I regard myself as a regular non-gallery user, with above average content, and frequent self-housekeeper of images (ie. make deletions)
    > Order every quarter for unlimited storage. YES OK
    > 1Gb is not enough
    > Extra storage per order always did me ok, but never seemed rational.
    > Permenant storage vital to a good housekeeper of photos.
    > Often order again from same images.
    > A permanent album would need to be an initial option, to justify any 30 days removal alternative.
    > PBox considered secure, but certainly maintain my own storage.
    > Product creations – should stay online after ordering

    ?? HOW ABOUT an initial quota + 10Mb extra for every image DELETED.
    ++ Sub folders would be a great enhancement

  • Mark says:

    The Flickr Pro system seems to work pretty well – freebie users get limited storage but still a very usable solution, whilst paying users get the full deal including unlimited storage. It seems to do a decent job of addressing most users’ requirements.

    I don’t really use PhotoBox for permanent storage, apart from my “creations” – mostly it’s just uploading photos to print, after which I either delete them or forget about them. So I’d be a great candidate for automatic deletion of photos after 30 days, and/or needing to move them into a permanent folder to keep them. Currently I’d get by on a very basic package but if in future I found myself uploading (and wanting to permanently store) more and more, I’d be happy to pay a premium for that. £10-15 a year would seem reasonable.

  • Graham says:

    I think unlimited storage is a very good idea for a PRO account, I wouldn’t mind paying a small annual charge to enjoy unlimited storage as long as a proffesional standard is maintained, & future upgrades,
    (Ie Editing, pricing?, at the moment my prices are over written by photobox prices upon submitting to the “basket”?),
    made for presentation of the site etc are implimented. Kind regards Graham.

  • Russ says:

    Unlimited storage for ACTIVE customers, where you have to make an order once every 6 months to keep your photos alive seems a good idea.
    Does that include customers who have ordered from one’s own Gallery.

    Or unlimited storage for all and just reflect it in the price of goods.

    Deletion after 30 days is a No No.

    Alan’s idea of sub folders is a fantastic idea in collections.

    Password protection for collections and subfolders should they arrive needs to be a priority, me thinks.

    Keep at it Big Boy. You are doing a good job up to now.

  • Ian says:

    One order every six months seems a bit arbitary. Does that mean if I only make one big order a year I lose my storage whereas someone who spends far less in total but orders more often doesn’t?

    As to the pro gallery issue; of course we’d all love to make more sales. To be honest I’ve hung fire on trying to push sales until the revamp; but that does seem to do very little to actively help me to boost sales.

  • Markus says:

    I used to use smugmug.com, but since they only print in the US, shipping costs were always higher than using Photobox. They have very good prints, and most importantly, offer Lustre paper! That would be a fantastic move from photobox to offer a bit more pro-like paper.

    OK, some feeback to your blogpost:

    1000 MB or 1000 photos is simply not enough. I do cover events from time to time, and one single event often results in more than 1000 photos and maybe 6-7 GB worth of data. That is a lot of storage space, yes, but Photobox also earns a lot of money when things sell well. So for pro-galleries, I would suggest it does not make any sense to limit the storage space by some quota. In fact, pro-galleries and the standard galleries should probably treated differently.

    Given you want to introduce some quota system, how about something like 10GB for the pro-gallery users (that would be just a bit more than one event photo shoot for me) and then up the quota by every order made by e.g. 500MB. However, that may not be enough, so you could also sell extra storage space;

    I think the best thing to do is to look at some of the most successful companies for this purpose, such as smugmug.com. They use Amazon web services in the backend and that probably makes sense. For their pro-accounts there are no quota and their service is outstanding. Shame they don’t team up with Photobox as their print partner :)

    Lastly, deletion every 30 days is a no go.

    Thanks,
    Markus

  • Dale says:

    I think that getting more storage every time you place an order is perfect! Use the site, get more storage. Fair!

    I like the security of knowing that if something happens to my computer (in spite of faithful back-ups), I can always rely on having the photos with Photobox. They are always safe in some form.

    I also think that projects should be kept indefinitely. I worked hours and hours (days and days) on a photobook that is now history because of the site changeover. I was really unhappy about that. So much work down the drain if ever I want more copies. So please, please keep work intensive projects long term!

  • Turner says:

    I don’t use Photobox for storage purposes, I use it to sell. I would be happy with the idea of 1000 photos uploaded/stored free but I definitely don’t want to pay storage charges or have photos deleted after 30days.

  • Graham, I think that the simple principle should be that more active users should receive more space. I also think that Pro Gallery users should get something on top of that – you are taking a commission on our sales after all.

    However, unless I’m missing something on the new site I can’t see that there is a way for me as a gallery owner to quickly know what percentage of the space I have is used / available. This is one of a number of very important features that used to be part of the old system that seem know to have disappeared.

    Graham – you were very active in communication in the early days of the new Pro Gallery but you seem to be silent on it know despite the fact there there are problems. Also, I have a bit of a problem with taking time to participate and feedback to PhotoBox via the Blog re the new gallery with specific points that don’t get answered. I’m happy to post a very specific set of questions / issues if you, as Cheif Technology Being, will commit to providing specific answers. Deal?

  • Charles Teton says:

    >> What if we were to offer unlimited storage for ACTIVE customers, where you have to make an order once every 6 months to keep your photos alive. Is that fair? >> – Yes, but plenty of notice prior to removal and option to back up to DVD at cost.

    >> How about going back to the old quota system? Is 1GB a fair allowance these days? What about a nice simple 1000 photos instead (given that photos are often bigger than 1MB each from modern cameras)? >> – No, 1GB is not enough neither is 1,000 photos.

    >> We used to offer some extra quota for each order you placed? 200GB or maybe 200 photos? Is that fair and does it make sense (customers who are more active on our service get more space than inactive customers)?>> – That was the best way… Mine was up to about 4GB, if which about 2GB was used. To be honest I do a lot of school sports photographs and I’ve stopped uploading to photobox as it takes up too much of my time, connection usually times out 3-4 times during an upload. Now I have my own password protected server with galleries and include an on server link to download the high res. file. PS The server is on my own network, so minutes to upload instead of 8 hours!

    >> How many of you actually value having permanent storage on our site? Do you tend to upload and order once and never access the photos again? Should the default be that the photos only stay on your account for 30 days, unless you choose to save them in a permanent album? >> – I don’t agree with this… We already have a temp album if we need to…

    >> Do you consider Photobox to be a secure backup of photos on your hard-disk or do you use more specialised services for that? >> – Kind of but not really, its good to know that I can easily reorder prints and books from the files already there but I have all my photo cloned on two hard drives.

    >> If you order photobooks or calendars do you expect those photos to stay online or only temporarily while you are designing the product? >> – With photobook I don’t use your templates, I design my own pages to your print size, in Apple’s Aperture, and covert to jpg. When making complicated books I don’t think any web based service is good enough, I’ve known users at photobox to loose all their work when the connection dropped… Calendars – Yes the photos should be saved.

    >> Finally, if you are a pro gallery owner what is your view? Do you expect more space that a non-gallery member, and how do we fairly allocate space between a very active seller and a gallery owner who sells no photos?>> – I’m not a Pro Gallery Owner, but should be, I choose a) to use a different model, my prices are higher and I do not wish to make money per print at present. and b) The state of the Pro Gallery when viewed in Apple’s Safari has a lot to be desired. If this is sorted I might consider using them.

    As for allocate space for Pro or Non Pro, I think it should be based on sales as per the old system… The more you order the bigger the space you are allowed.

    Hope this helps…

    PS. When do we get business cards back?
    PPS. When does quality control return, i.e. prints/cards/photobooks are all over the place!
    PPPS. What actually has PhotoBox achieved by ripping apart the old system apart from a prettier looking website? Because for the users its just been loads of aggravation and less quality and quantity. Graham, I say this in all honesty as I’ve told so many people how good PhotoBox is over the years but now I just feel a little bit let down as I feel the service has suffered.

    Regards,

    Charles Teton

  • Graeme says:

    Deleting photos is pretty much a no go. If a customer wants to make a book at xmas but he uploaded a photo in march to find it gone would be an annoyance and probably put them off.

    Flickr style storage with the option to upgrade at a cost is a nice idea but what are they paying for? they pay for you to keep the photos that they’ve sent to you to order so they pay twice to use their photos. The old system of +200mb per order worked for me with an unlimited temp folder, never ran out of space there.

    Personally, I think as others have mention before and with other blog postings that you need to refocus back towards the printing side of things rather than some of the bells and whistles you want to add to this site. Many of my customers are not jumping for joy at their photos anymore and I’m having to rethink where I print my photos or if I need to create and upload a different batch of photos that try to match your printers…the downside there is it’s all guesswork.

    I am a fan of photobox, I enjoyed working with you guys during the site beta stages but the biggest part of your service is having issues…printing!

  • Now that Photobox have *finally* sorted the pro galleries out, I’ll be making more use of the service… In the past I’ve had extra disc space as a result of placing real orders – I can’t see why this can’t be reintroduced. Only give extra space to customers who actually buy things from you. Not sure on the increment though…as 200MB per order might actually seem a little stingey to pro users who upload pukka images but the veritable bucketload (easily talking gigs per upload here)

  • At the very minimum, I would expect photos which I’ve ordered as prints/books to remain online forever. I liked the old 200Mb per order system – it sometimes meant that I didn’t have enough space for extra stuff I wanted to upload, but in that case I’d put it in a temporary album and/or cull some of my existing photos.

  • Carl Whitfield says:

    Well here’s my humble opinion!
    Deleting photos is not a good idea and neither is a quota system. I do agree that the active customers is an option, I myself buy more than one thing every six months and I am sure most other pro gallery users do as well. I sell my photography through a number of companies and they each have there own way of doing things but as far as I am aware none of them have a quota system. The likes of Cafepress and Imagekind (now a cafepress company) charge a small monthly fee somewhere around £4 – £6, whereas Zazzle and Redbubble charge no fee. I have only recently started to set up my photobox pro gallery and after testing out some of your “competition” have to say photobox are clearly ahead. Fantastic print quality, quick delivery and good communication. I see some people are having issues with print quality, as yet all prints, cards, mugs and so on have been of the highest standard so hopefully this continues.

    Just one other thing that crossed my mind, If you were to charge a fee for the pro galleries I would expect to be able to create the things such as mousemats, mugs etc and to be able to put them in the gallery for sale as a finished product without a customer having to do all the cropping and such themselves.

  • Gerry says:

    Hi Graham,
    providing free unlimited storage space for pro users gives a value added factor to Photobox which is a good thing for you .
    The more gallery images I can store online the better the chances of sales which is a win win for all. Hope this makes sense !
    regards,
    Gerry

  • John B says:

    Hello Graham,

    I’m a fairly regular customer and a professional IT infrastructure strategist so I understand the issues of balancing of storage capacity with the cost constraints. Personally, I favour the idea of you rewarding active customers. Why should those that regularly use your services end up financing those that are simply using Photobox as a file repository?

    As a home user, I always strive for maximum image quality which means some of my images are around 10MB each. A fixed quota system would really impact my ability to use all of the Photobox services I need unless it was tied to customer history/activity.

    John

  • R K Hayden says:

    My thoughts. As others have suggested, the Flickr model works well and is the one I would favour. It makes the costs of your services clear, separating the fee for data storage from the printing costs. On the specific options you suggested.

    * Unlimited storage for ACTIVE customers.
    That would be fine for me, but as others have noted, I would expect plentiful advance notice of photographs being deleted.

    * The old quota system.
    A fixed quota just wouldn’t work for me.

    * Extra quota for each order placed? 200GB or maybe 200 photos?
    That works for me, though with seemingly ever increasing image sizes, a photo-based quota would be more useful than a GB-based one.

    * Photos only stay on your account for 30 days, unless you choose to save them in a permanent album.
    Seems rather short to me, 90 days would be better. I upload regularly but only order 4 or 5 times a year.

    * Photobox as a secure backup of photos
    As your T&Cs specifically say you are not a secure backup, I don’t regard you as such. That said, I do use Photobox, to a certain extent, as a back-up facility. Although I also have my photographs backed up elsewhere, I’m prepared to pay in some way for that facility, though if I am going to pay for it, the all too frequent ‘image not available’ instances have to stop.

    * If you order photobooks or calendars do you expect those photos to stay online or only temporarily while you are designing the product?
    I don’t upload photographs specifcally to design a product, I select from what I’ve already uploaded, so I expect those photos to stay online in accordance with whatever rules prevail for all other photos.

  • helen F says:

    I started using the old photobox site years ago and at that time anyone could buy and archive cd of their photos. I have several, and after buying one I would delete the relevant album. I really want photobox to offer that again and I could then keep [and copy if need be] the archive cds and delete the albums from the site. As a private individual rather than a business, this would work very well for me – nd I think for most people in my position

  • Andrea Pilastro says:

    I think that 1 GB per user was a good solution, I liked it. With some extra per each order up to a certain limit of course.

    I wonder how you manage the unlimited storage? What if a lot of users uploads their entire foto library (I have may be 50 Gbyte myself) just to keep it as a backup and never place an order? I think it’s a bit risky, and may be some customers will pay the hidden costs for the others.

    By the way I paid for some extra storage and now it’s all free, did you consider that this is not fair to some customers?

    A part from this you have a fantastic site, I really love it, and the service as well.

  • Phil says:

    * What if we were to offer unlimited storage for ACTIVE customers, where you have to make an order once every 6 months to keep your photos alive. Is that fair? Yes, provided it includes orders placed by customers of a pro account

    * How about going back to the old quota system? Is 1GB a fair allowance these days? What about a nice simple 1000 photos instead (given that photos are often bigger than 1MB each from modern cameras)? Prefer disk space, otherwise what’s the point of offering two different levels of upload?

    * We used to offer some extra quota for each order you placed? 200GB or maybe 200 photos? Is that fair and does it make sense (customers who are more active on our service get more space than inactive customers)? Fair enough, again provided it includes orders placed by customers of a pro account

    * How many of you actually value having permanent storage on our site? Do you tend to upload and order once and never access the photos again? Value permanent storage but archive when no longer relevant
    Should the default be that the photos only stay on your account for 30 days, unless you choose to save them in a permanent album? No

    * Do you consider Photobox to be a secure backup of photos on your hard-disk? Yes

    * If you order photobooks or calendars do you expect those photos to stay online or only temporarily while you are designing the product? Haven’t yet used these

    * Finally, if you are a pro gallery owner what is your view? Do you expect more space that a non-gallery member, and how do we fairly allocate space between a very active seller and a gallery owner who sells no photos? The more pics uploaded the better the chances of a sale and hence income for Photobox & me!

  • Harry says:

    Re Markus : “Lustre paper! That would be a fantastic move”

    I’m not sure exactly what defines “lustre” but … could this just be a terminology problem?

    Have you ever tried one of Photobox’s “matt” prints? Thankfully, I once did — just for scientific examination you understand.

    To my surprise received not the expected “dull, boring, dead matt” print but something I reckon most people would describe as “lustre”.

    According to freedictionary.com:

    Lustre:
    1. soft shining light reflected from a surface; sheen
    2. great splendour or glory

    Matt:
    1. the property of having little or no contrast; lacking highlights or gloss
    2. dullness – a lack of visual brightness;

    On the above basis I reckon Photobox’s prints are much closer to lustre than matt and I always order them in preference to glossy — but with the misleading caption of matt, I doubt if many of my customers do.

  • Harry says:

    And “back to the plot” …

    Like everybody else, the only concept that completely doesn’t make sense is deletion after 30 days. Apart from that, all ideas have relative merits.

    Personally my interest in photobox is primarily in its selling and printing service rather than as a storage space. However, Photobox can only sell and print my photos if it has copies to display and print, hence “adequate” storage has to be part of the deal.

    Storage needs to be elastic. A new user needs a certain amount of free space, because requiring an advance payment from a new user would be a very strong disincentive to trying the service.

    But storage has to be paid for, directly or indirectly. For users whose prints bring in sufficient revenue to Photobox, it is convenient and sensible for the sale of those prints to fund the storage costs. Users who bring in less revenue but need a lot of storage have to accept they may be charged for that.

    Most users aren’t going to have constant revenue. There will be peaks and troughs, so any quota scheme needs to take that into account. The quota can be recalculated monthly, but it should be be based on the revenue for the preceding year rather than just the month.

    Some users will be over their quota, and have to choose between paying for the extra storage or deleting some of the prints. But the user needs to choose which prints go, because it will not necessarily be a simple case of deleting the oldest album or the prints with the least recent sales.

  • Harry says:

    Aside …

    Did you know your clock seems to be stuck in “BST” land? It’s approaching midnight, but I’ve apparently all three of these posts tomorrow morning.

  • Kitty says:

    Hello,

    I do not think of photobox as a safe repository for my photos, but I do expect photos I have uploaded to remain there unless I choose to delete them since I often return to old photos for new creations and the appeal of the site would be significantly reduced if I had to upload the photos again each time. For this reason a 30 or 90 day expiry period would not work for me.

    That said, I don’t believe space should be unlimited, because that will increase your prices beyond acceptable levels simply because some people are using a lot more storage space than others.

    I can see the value of having storage maintained by keeping the account active – I’m not sure about the 6 month time period though, as although I usually order a few times a year those times are not necessarily evenly spaced and tend to be concentrated in the second half of the year. Maybe make it 2 orders per year rather than 1 every 6 months? If you do this you’ll obviously need to warn people in advance of the time period elapsing so they can choose to order before the deadline or find an alternative way to store their photos.

    Another good system would be to increase storage according to usage – if people aren’t ordering they shouldn’t need to upload more photos (since photobox isn’t principally a storage site), so that makes sense.

    Thanks,

    Kitty

  • Paul H says:

    To add my two pennies worth…

    I’ve only used photobox about 4 times in the last 2-3yrs. However that’s mainly because I still haven’t sorted a satisfactory way of managing/printing my online pics.

    Have no idea if I’m typical, but am UK based, have a snap happy Nikon using about 10 random SD cards, that I then mirror on an external 1TB drive. However what I really want to do is then duplicate the entire drive online. The important fact I have is that I live rurally and therefore have pants 2mb broadband with upload speeds of about 1/10th of that.

    That means uploading is painfully slow, and if I mirror my entire photo collection online I also want to be able to print from there. Unfortunately I wasted $20 with Picassa, by buying 60Gb of storage, only to find I can’t print photos from there…. I’m sure there may be a reasons they Google don’t partner with photo providers in the UK (presumably demands of said providers for prohibitively silly fees/cut?) but from my point of view Google have turned Picassa into an absolute waste of space. Hopefully soon to go the way of MySpace…

    Rant over, and to answer your questions – yes allowing free/more space on a usage based policy will work, but I for one would gladly pay a sensible annual fee if Photobox could provide secure and safely backed-up annual storage (provide different storage sizes for different £££s)

    Cheers,
    Paul.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.