While Picasa Web Albums and Flickr are incredibly popular free online photo-storage/sharing services for photos and other files among readers, the limitations of these services’ free accounts might (sooner or later) push you to either upgrade or search for alternative solutions so you won’t have to delete your data.
For example, Picasa does integrate well with other Google services, but that also means that all the pictures you upload to Blogger and (the new social messaging tool) Buzz, in addition to Picasa, count toward the 1GB Picasa Web storage limit. As for Flickr, you’re probably already aware that you can only see 200 pictures of your non-pro Flickr collection.
The upgrade prices for extra online storage for photos in Google and Flickr, ($25/year for unlimited storage), aren’t too bad, but as your stream of photos grows every year, so will your premium-account costs. You could get a great deal in photo storage (basically 25GB for $0) in Windows Live Photos thanks to its integration with Windows Live Skydrive, which you already have if you own a Hotmail address or Windows Live ID (signup).
SkyDrive, one of our top 5 free Microsoft Products, will actually give you free online storage for more photos since any file under 50MB will be accepted, but we’ll focus on the SkyDrive-Windows Live Photos kinship as your go-to photo backup/online-storage/sharing solution. Let’s demistify the less-complicated upload option now.
Emailing Pictures To SkyDrive
The email feature is pretty hidden unless you frequently post on your Windows Live Space (the Windows Live equivalent of Blogger), but you can use this regardless of whether or not you’re actively blogging on Spaces. You do need to choose a name for your Space so head to the first option, Choose web address, where you can select a permanent web address.
Your Space URL will then be anynameyouwant.spaces.live.com. Now you can unleash the beauty and ease of e-mail publishing by pressing on Options on either the Photos or SkyDrive page, and selecting E-mail publishing.
Now enter your email, a secret word and choose a default album for your email uploads. Now you can see where naming your Space will come in handy, otherwise, you could have seen “AwfulLongIDnumber.email@example.com.” Each album you have on SkyDrive will be assigned a random code so you’ll get to see all the codes on this page for you to copy to your Contacts in your email or phone. If you decide just to email “yourSpaceName.firstname.lastname@example.org” with your pictures, these will appear on your Space blog and on your Live Photos under the album name of Blog images.
Another tip, your email subject will become the photo’s caption, while the title of the photo will just be your photo’s name on your capturing device, but you can always change the cryptic DSCN0852 title of the photo on the website later.
Email is an easy and speedy way to share your mobile pictures (whether it be one or a couple of photos) or if you check your email often.
Other Ways To Upload To Windows Live Photos/SkyDrive
1. Using The Web Interface: Ideal For A Few Photos
After you log in at the Photos Live page, you’ll see that you can Create (a new) album or Add photos to an existing album. The process gets pretty straightforward, but if you’re on Firefox, you’ll miss the option to drag-and-drop your files (but you can individually choose up to 5 files) that you get in Internet Explorer after installing a plugin. There was this wonderful extension that enabled drag-and-drop for any attachment box but it was last updated in November 2009 so let’s hope the developer makes it FF3.6-compatible soon.
If you’re already on your desktop web browser, heading to the site to upload one or a few pictures will be a breeze (or a nightmare if you upload a lot of photos since this can take such a long time.)
2. Publishing Through Windows Live Writer: Ideal For An Album
The next couple of upload options are more “complicated” in that they will require downloading software, but don’t despair, because for example, the ones featured right next up are among Microsoft’s best free products. The first one is Windows Live Writer, number one in our list of top free Microsoft products, which is a super-easy-to-use and extensible blogging tool.
Writing a blog post at Windows Live Writer is too easy not to do. Our introduction and brief beginner’s guide should clarify more features so let us fast-forward to the main reason for including it here: publishing pictures to your Windows Live Space blog (make sure you select this when you’re setting up your accounts) through this blogging client means that your pictures will be uploaded to SkyDrive under Photos, in a new album with the name of your album title.
If you’re a blogger, this will come in handy. As a WYSIWYG editor, Live Writer makes it very intuitive to insert, upload and publish your photo albums (you can even install this plugin to send and share your blog posts to Twitter).
3. Publishing Through Windows Live Photo Gallery: Ideal for A Few Albums
Windows Live Photo Gallery is an improved version of the built-in Windows Vista photo viewer program (Windows Photo Gallery) that allows basic image editing, tagging, and publishing to Windows Live Photos and Flickr. With the right plugins, you can also publish to other popular sites such as Facebook, YouTube, Picasa, etc.
After you click on Publish and select whether you want to create a new album or add pictures to your existing albums (if you’re logged in with your Windows Live ID), WLPG will upload your pictures with an impressive speed. This process is really ideal if you have a lot of albums to upload. You can get Writer and/or the Live Photo Gallery here (just deselect the Windows Live Products that you don’t need.)
4. Using Third Party Apps: Ideal For Lots of Albums/Folders
There are also two really great third party applications (not developed by Microsoft) that make SkyDrive appear as a virtual drive on your computer so you can easily move and/or copy folders and files. This would be ideal to backup/upload and share lots of files and folders, including pictures. These applications, SDExplorer (formerly known as SkyDrive Explorer) and Gladinet may just make your backing up easier.
Summarizing the different upload options:
- To upload a few pictures, you could either email your photos to SkyDrive, or upload them on the Windows Live Photos/SkyDrive website.
- To upload and share a whole album, you can try any of the two featured Windows Live products.
- To back up many albums/folders from your computer, use either Gladinet or SDExplorer.
Let us know what methods you prefer or if there are other ways to upload to SkyDrive that we missed!