Flickr is a popular photo blogging service used by pro and amateur photographers alike. Flickr helps you archive your photos in the cloud and share them publicly with others. What happens when Flickr is the only place you can find your photos, though?
I hadn’t thought that much of that contingency. I’ve been a Flickr user since the pre-Yahoo days – 2004. I recently took stock of all the photos I’d uploaded to Flickr and realized something unsettling: I didn’t have some of these images on my Mac. It’s been 13 years and probably half a dozen computers since then, so I wasn’t surprised that some photos had fallen through the cracks.
I decided to be better safe than sorry. I set out to backup my entire Flickr library to make sure I had everything. And I’m here to pass along what I learned.
Flickr’s Bulk Downloader
Most of Flickr’s workflow – and most of their supported apps – focus on getting images into Flickr, not out of Flickr. That doesn’t mean you can’t download images from Flickr, but it isn’t straightforward.
Flickr includes a bulk downloader that activates as soon as you selected images in your Camera Roll. Click on the Download button, and Flickr will compress the images into a ZIP file, then download them to your computer.
Flickr’s bulk downloader has the advantage of being free and built into the service. Unfortunately, Flickr’s developers haven’t made it seamless to use. You can only select individual images or groups of photos at a time. So if you’d like to select your entire library – in my case, over 8,000 photos – it’ll take a long time to choose them all. I haven’t found an easier way using Flickr’s downloader yet.
Where Flickr’s downloading tool is terrific, though, is if you just need a few of your images back. If you’re trying to get back individual photos or galleries you might be missing, this is going to be the path of least resistance.
Some third-party app makers have tapped into Flickr’s API to create various import and export services and apps.
Bulkr is one such app. The app, free to download, lets you download images from your Flickr library with the touch of a button. It’s dependent on Adobe Flash and requires Adobe AIR. Some features are unavailable unless you pay for the “Pro” version ($29).
Flickr downloadr is another free app that lets you download your Flickr library. It also works on Mac, Windows and Linux systems. No license encumbrances to download extra content – it’s released as open source.
I’ve tried them both on my library of over 8,000 images. In either case, I just set up the apps and let them run – they took a while, a couple of hours to grab everything. So if you’re working with a large archive of Flickr images, I’d recommend setting aside some time when you can leave your computer running.
What To Do With Your Flickr Images
You’ve downloaded the images to your local hard drive. What next? Catalog what you have. Both Macs and PCs include such software. The apps for each platform are both called “Photos.” They have the benefit of being free, built-in, and well-supported using existing tools and workflows.
If the Photos apps included with your computer don’t suit you, there are other commercial app options. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is one of the more popular options that work with both Macs and Windows PCs. It’s included with Adobe’s $9.99 per month Creative Cloud Photography subscription (bundled with Photoshop), or you can buy it separately for $149.
Archive Your Backup
Now that you’ve downloaded all of your Flickr images, make sure they’re safe by backing them up. Back them up locally using Time Machine (on the Mac), Windows Backup or whatever means you prefer.
Even though you’ve gotten the images from the cloud by downloading them from Flickr, it’d be a good idea to store a backup copy offsite just in case. That’s keeping with the guidelines of the 3-2-1 Backup Strategy – a solid way to make sure that nothing bad can happen to your data.
Backblaze is a great option, of course, but the main thing is to make sure your photos are safe and sound. If anything happens to your computer or your local backup, you’ll still have a copy of those precious memories stored securely.
Need more tips on how to back up your computer? Check out our Computer Backup Guide for more details.