Choosing the Best Photo Image Hosting Sites

Tips on Deciding Where to Store Your Images Online

image hosting sites
Getty Images / Tim Robberts

There are several photo image hosting sites that allow visitors to upload photos to share with friends and family. This saves everyone the trouble of receiving large attachments by e-mail. Most sites also allow those you share the photos with to order their own prints, or even the images on coffee mugs and various other gift items.

Most are free, although some require occasional print purchases to keep your online image gallery active.

They provide a convenient online place to store images, although you should never rely on these sites as your primary image backup for storage. Rather than discussing the best sites in this article, let's focus on the best ways to find a photo image hosting site to meet your needs.

How to Choose an Image Hosting Site

Here are some key considerations before choosing a photo site:

  • Is it free? If it offers a paid membership, what is the difference between the two?
  • What is the photo storage limit, but in size of image storage and the length of time you can leave photos there before they are deleted?
  • Is it easy to use, both for the person uploading photos and friends viewing them?
  • Is there a privacy option so that friends and family alone can see the pictures?
  • What are the features? Does it offer all the features I need?
  • Can I order prints or photo gift items?

It is usually relatively simple to set up the photo galleries, and easy for friends and family to peruse the images online.

Typically, you send someone an invitation to view your image online. If you think people will order prints or other photo gifts, be sure to use the highest quality images your camera is capable of producing (300 dpi or better). Do not crop before upload, even if it saves time creating the album.

Protecting Your Uploaded Images

One downside is that you must still have concerns about someone stealing your images.

Do not upload any images that you mind someone else snatching. Many also offer free prints to new users, so it could be worth it for a few pictures to pass around. Consider watermarking your photos before uploading.

There are dozens of other sites as well, so shop around before you commit to one site. Since most are free, there is also no reason you can't join a few sites. They do make it easier to share images with others, and you usually have no commitment to buy (unless you want to keep your account active).

One final option is to upload images to an online storage site, such as a Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive, and then share the password with friends and family. These sites aren't dedicated to photography like some other image hosting sites, but you can upload other files along with the photos, which can be handy.