back to article Photo loss blogger to Flickr: You're f*cking kidding

Yahoo!-owned photo-sharing site Flickr has mistakenly deleted 4,000 photos belonging to a photoblogger, who opined that Yahoo! surely must be "fucking kidding". Mirco Wilhelm, an IT Architect at T-Systems Schweiz, has used Flickr to store and share his photos for five years. He reported a user account to Flickr that contained …


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  1. Andrew Moore

    Surely no problem...

    All he has to do is restore his photos from one of his other backups (his laptop's hard disk, an external drive, CDs/DVDs). Let's face it, only a complete and utter idiot would have only 1 copy of such valuable data (and on an online source which he does not control).

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      He can, but would YOU want to upload 4000 photos again?

      Only for none of the links to the original photos to work any more...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Surely no problem

      Being an "IT Architect", he has no really excuse for not having backups, or is "Architect" the new form of "consultant", aka someone who doesn't have the knowledge to be an engineer in the field? (or maybe that's just my experience of telecoms consultants tainting my view!).

      I'm sure it's the 5 years worth of contacts, groups and animated "Flickr Award" comments that he is really mourning the loss of.

    3. Tom Melly

      no problem?

      If you bothered to read his blog post, you'd see that he does have a backup of the originals - however, all the metadata is now gone, all the links to his photos on flickr are broken, and he has to upload the whole lot again.

      In what way does a paid service screwing up like this without any way of fixing the issue represent 'no problem'?

      And BTW, can everyone who is ever tempted to post some smug and inane remark about backups every time they read about someone losing data, count to 10 and then go and do something more productive.

      1. The Original Ash

        @Tom Melly

        "And BTW, can everyone who is ever tempted to post some smug and inane remark about backups every time they read about someone losing data, count to 10 and then go and do something more productive."

        Flickr should definitely invest in a better backup solution, or more competent staff. Or both. Definitely the first one, though.

      2. Doug Glass

        Exactly !

        Such as run your backup routine.

      3. Charles Manning

        He should just buy a mirror

        C'mon folks... Is it really possible to have 4000-odd photos that need "valuable" meta-data? That definition of "valuable" is surely less meaningful than Facebooks definition of "friend".

        If this block is so up himself he'd do better to put a mirror in the corner to watch a live HD video feed of himself.

    4. Anonymous Coward

      Ummm I don't think he thinks of it as "data"

      Summary execution of Flickr types is not a matter of deletion of data - everyone who isn't an eejit has multiple copies of their treasured snaps.

      It is a matter of your reputation being deleted. All the contacts, comments and favourites that stick the photos together and make it, um, social.

      You clearly missed that has become dreadful popular recently.

    5. Richard Parkin

      He says he has all his photos elsewhere

      He says he has all his photos elsewhere, it is more that he has lost all the other flickr content - comments, links etc.

    6. Fuzz


      I fully expect he does have a copy of all the photos somewhere else, if he doesn't then he's a complete idiot for putting his trust in a service that costs $12 a year.

      However there will be links to those deleted images in forums and blogs all over the net which are now 404s that can't be rectified. Uploading 4000 images into the correct sets with the descriptions and names and tags is going to take some time.

      Then you're on to the flickr side, what kind of an organisation deletes an entire account without having a method of restoring it on the basis of a complaint from one user?

    7. Benny
      Thumb Up

      re the post im replying to

      Its probably more the fact that if you've spent 5 years tagging and sorting 4000 photos, then you're not really going to want to do it again because someone deleted it (albeit by accident)

    8. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge


      but at the same time: why does flickr not have a roll-back system in place to cope with such mishaps?

      1. Jeff 11

        @Michael H.F. Wilkinson

        "but at the same time: why does flickr not have a roll-back system in place to cope with such mishaps?"

        Because partial rollback systems can be inordinately complex to develop, especially on scale-out infrastructure. It's probably several orders of magnitude cheaper to get someone knowledgable enough to manually restore data from a recent snapshot on the rare occasion that data is lost due to human error.

        1. Jeremy 2

          @Jeff 11

          "Because partial rollback systems can be inordinately complex to develop, especially on scale-out infrastructure. It's probably several orders of magnitude cheaper to get someone knowledgable enough to manually restore data from a recent snapshot on the rare occasion that data is lost due to human error."

          Maybe so but there's no need for that complexity:

          - Flag account as publicly inaccessible (404 from user pov).

          - Flag as pending deletion in say, 90 days.

          - Wait......

          - Delete.

          Such that accounts are 'deleted' from a public point of view immediately but all data and the all important comments, relationships, etc, are maintained for a grace period before actual storage-level deletion 'just in case', to avoid PR disasters like this one.

          It's just common sense.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @Jeremy 2

            Well, that's what they're doing now, aren't they?

            "We are working on a process that would allow us to easily restore deleted accounts and we plan on rolling this functionality out soon."

          2. Mark 65

            @Jeremy 2

            A very sensible suggestion but I suspect their system is in no way designed to work that way and may well be a pain in the arse to implement from their perspective vs why bother as the incident rate of a staff member being a twat is hopefully low and the benefit to the company is minimal in cash terms. It's also difficult to code out admin user stupidity i.e. they may well have the process but they didn't use it. It's a worthy change from a user perspective but can the company be arsed? Juxtapose that to Facebook where the system was no doubt designed that way from the start because they have a vested interest in retaining your data.

            2 social-type systems with two different aims leading to different implementations. Incompetence? Poor design? Penny pinching? Who knows, just saying.

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

    9. JC 2

      @ Surely no problem

      It is a bit ironic to use the word idiot so quickly, not realizing that merely uploading the pics again does nothing to get the links working again which was the primary problem cited.

      Let me be more clear. Here is a randomly selected link:

      If flickr deletes that pic and the user re-ups the pic, a new # is created for the pic so...

    10. Semaj


      He's a fool for not having a local backup yeah but they should have backups too, plus they shouldn't go around deleting people's accounts without suspension first, they could clearly have a much better process in place to avoid screw ups like this.

      They both failed.

      1. BristolBachelor Gold badge


        "He's a fool for not having a local backup..."

        So tell me Mr. not a fool, how does he backup the internals of Flickr's database? You know all the relationship data that is completely internal, and can only be guessed at by going to every single page on Flicr.

        Now assuming that he has managed to backup the internal database relationships, how does he put it back?

        1. Andy Nugent


          Using the Flickr APIs? Not saying he should have to, but you can access all your metadata (tags / groups / sets / etc) through them. Re-adding comments / restoring the original photo URLs I don't think are possible though.

    11. The Fuzzy Wotnot

      Shut up you plank!

      I have a DeviantArt account, had it for 2 years now, it only has about 100 of my best photos on it, but it's all the wonderful comments and hints that make it special. Even one DD I am very proud of, DD is an award that is presented to only 30 pictures each day, out of the thousands uploaded every 24 hours by it's 13 million members. The photos are nothing as such just my attempts at creativity, it's the links to all the really great people on DA that make my account priceless to me.

      I am not some Facebook or Twitter person, I don't have accounts there just DA. Perhaps when you have poured your heart and soul into something that has taken years of painstaking work to achieve, it then gets deleted by some arsehole with a mouse and a "click-OK" fetish, you wouldn't be so flippant about what this poor sod has lost!

    12. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Surely no problem ...

      If he can restore from a backup, why can't Flickr?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Parked data simply not safe

    We knew that already, but conveniently ignored it. In the meantime, various governmental agencies are pushing, this way or another, into the cloud. Soonish if not already that will include /critical services/. I shouldn't need to spell out the obvious here, or?

    Time to think about it. For example, how to put the risks in words small enough for our esteemed representatives in parliament to understand.

    1. John G Imrie

      Simple words.

      If the stuff is not on your net work. You no longer have control of it.

      1. John 104


        Exactly. Seriously, folks. If it is important to you, manage it on your own hardware, back up to DVD, This guy throwing a fit because an off site service lost his stuff is a bit much. They have backups, and he'll get his work back. And maybe next time he'll take a backup of his own.

        1. Restricted Access

          RE: riiiight

          The guy didn't throw a fit because they 'lost' his stuff. He was dissatisfied with their account removal procedure and subsequent compensation. As a paying customer he was given simply given an apology and extended subscription when they deleted his content without a review or a deactivation period. He has the original files but until this was picked up by the media he was expected to upload, tag, name, link, and group over 4000 images all over again, which would have taken months of work. Even then that wouldn't fix any issues related to external sites that had linked to the old pictures.

          So, before jumping to rash conclusions perhaps you should RTFA along with the source. That way you'll find that you're far less likely to end up with egg on your face.

      2. Anton Ivanov

        Yeah, right...

        There are still refuseniks out there which operate their own servers, own mail accounts, own PBX-es and own backups.

        There is less and less of them by the year. Some succumb to the ineveitable tides of time while other succumb to the inevitable lure of Google apps. More and more of the survivors now have white hair in addition to the classic vile BOFH-ian temper and Perl-programmer-specific sense of humour.

        Face it, while I admire your statement the sentiment of "I would like to keep my own data safe thank ya" clearly labels you as a dinosaur. Same as me. Time to go munch on some ginko leaves and tree ferns (drenched in a quadruple sysadmin espresso which will kill any user not with GID wheel).

        1. Mike Flugennock

          "Dinosaur" and proud

          Hey, I can live with the "dinosaur" epithet. When everybody else's work based in the cloud goes kablooey due to system failure, my domain -- including my blog, all my posted artwork, and my email account -- will keep on chugging along.

          And, yes... I learned way early to backup like an obsessive-compulsive, including the database that drives my blog. It's already saved my ass once.

      3. Charles Manning

        Nor do you

        unless it is backed up. And the backups actually work (I've seen that before). And they're stored off-site (seen that too).

        For the most part, any cloud service will effect a better backup than what most Random J Punter can do.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      It was free space....

      I too store my photos on "the cloud" (google in this case). Now, I know that I have 7GB of "free" space; to me this means, "if you put it here, it might disappear". There's no SLA associated.

      However, I can pay for additional space (, and although I have not checked, I would hope that by paying , I get certain guarantees... time to check.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @It was free space..

        "I would hope that by paying , I get certain guarantees"

        Yes, so did he, that is his point. He has his own backups.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Gone, gone?


    He doesn't keep his own backups?

    1. serviceWithASmile

      THE MAN



      apologies for the capslock, but I can't post in blinking red comic sans so that was my only choice

  4. Erroneous Howard

    "The Cloud"

    And thus highlights the problem with storing your data in the cloud, and therefore under somebody elses control.

    I see potential for the same issues with other cloud-based services, meaning that essentially you still need to keep a backup of your entire data-set even though you have supposedly offloaded the cost of doing so to the third-party. Granted, he probably doesn't have a corporate agreement with Flikr along with SLA's and agreed support/backup, but still it's one of the things the beancounters do not consider when looking at the attractive costing of cloud-based services.

    1. DaveyDaveDave

      Only if...

      True enough, but only if you're expecting your PC *and* the cloud service to die at the same time, which seems somewhat unlikely. If it did happen then I'd guess you'd be more worried about finding shelter from the mutated giant cockroaches, than any data you might have lost (unless of course that data included your plans for a giant-cockroach shelter).

      So - cloud service acts as a backup to your PC (or whatever primary storage device), and vice versa. If one goes down, you restore it from the other.

      1. Gavin King

        Giant Cockroach Shelter?

        Why would you want to make a shelter for the 'roaches?

        The one with the can of fly spray, ta.

  5. Cthonus

    Do the maths

    I'd be gutted if Flickr deleted my photos, though given they must have billions of snaps floating around their servers I've never assumed they had any kind of backup solution. Everything I upload is ultimately backed up to DVD if it's important enough.

    Whadya mean DVD isn't a viable long-term solution? I'm not building a time capsule for posterity...

  6. Tom Melly

    Backup Fail

    I have copies of my photos on my local HD as well as on flickr, and if my HD fails, then I can just download them all from flickr to copy to my new HD... oh, hang on...

    Err, flickr, if you're not going to back up our photos, at least give us some way to do so...

  7. Tom_

    The irony

    For once, switching to facebook might be a good option. You can't delete data from there even if you try.

    1. Doug Glass

      Now Mark ...

      ... was that really necessary? :+)

    2. The Fuzzy Wotnot

      Superb sir!

      Well done! A first class effort, top of the class!

  8. mark 63 Silver badge

    ho hum

    what can you say?

    He should have had other backups? well hindsights all very well but whooda thought a massive yahoo owned company like that would F up that badly?

    5 billion pics at say 1/5mb each

    =2.5 bil megs

    =25000 x million megs

    25,000,000 x thousanmegs (a tera)

    25000 tb , i suppose thats a lot to stick on tape every night

    thats gotta be a big san

    dont they got a recycle bin? a salvage folder etc etc - what i find most amazing is they'll delete a users pics, so entirely and permanently just on the word of some other user!

    luckily for me all the digital personal data i've collected since pcs were invented will fit on a dvd :)

    1. Paul_Murphy


      >what i find most amazing is they'll delete a users pics, so entirely and permanently just on the

      >word of some other user!

      In fact they deleted the account of the person asking for another account to be deleted, though I know what you mean.

      If I set up an account and then asked for other accounts to be deleted would they delete the other accounts too?

      It seems bizarre that there is no account blocking facility, or contacting the accused person so that they can put things right - or anything shy of deleting an account.

      Another issue with flickr is that you can only upload so much data per month (on the free account anyway) so even if the guy has a backup it will take a long time to upload all those pictures again.


    2. Anonymous Coward


      I'm going to have a stab at correcting your maths here, which, of course, means I'lm going to smugly point out your mistakes while producing far more of my own mistakes, hence AC :)

      "5 billion pics at say 1/5mb each

      =2.5 bil megs"

      Do you mean one fifth of a MB each, in which case it's 1 billion MB, or half a MB each - although that still seems pretty low to me...

      "2.5 bil megs

      =25000 x million megs"

      Surely 2,500 million megs? (Assuming we're talking about American billions, which, alas, we probably are)

      "25,000,000 x thousanmegs (a tera)"

      From the above, '2,500,000 x thousand megs', which is not a 'tera', it's a 'giga'

      So - from your original assumption, I make that 2,500TB. Still a lot to backup, I guess, but I'd say it's more accurate to just think of it as 'double the capacity they currently have', in which case it seems much more realistic. No?

    3. pwnmasta


      NAS FTW. I would think they use snapshots... based on the storage they use.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        See Below

        'Snap shots'. I like it. It was a joke?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      It does seem odd that suspended accounts aren't moved to a trashcan pending deletion. Flickr could send the registered user a notification that there is something suspicious about the account. if they don't respond within (chooses random number) seven days then the account is deleted permanently. If they reply, an arbitration process begins.

    5. mark 63 Silver badge


      yeah i knew i'd go wrong on that somewhere , LOL

      surprising i only dropped one dec place :)

  9. Keith 21

    Not a problem.

    Simply re-upload the photos from his local copies, problem solved.

    Sure, it'll maybe take him a day or two, but it's only some remote copies whch were lost, not the originals or masters.

    After all, only a complete fuckwitted moron would place their only copy of anything important somewhere over which they have no control - is he admitting to being a complete fuckwitted moron?

    1. Steven Jones

      Moron's are the ones that don't bother with the facts

      Only a moron would make a comment without checking the facts. The guy in question has local backups. I know of no serious photographer who only keeps photos online. Also, if you've ever tried uploading thousands of photos, organising them into sets and collections and the like, then you also wouldn't make moronic comments like it would take a couple of days. Quite apart from uploading of the order of 1GB of data, the online work involved is enormous.

      Then there are all the comments which will have been lost, the links that will fail from other sites/ In all, it's weeks of work to sort this out, not a couple of days. I've got about 8,000 photos on Flickr, all carefully organised, and I'd be somewhat annoyed to have to reinvest all the time required to reorganise them.

      However, the one thing I can see is that Flickr is a cheap service, and there's a limit to what you can expect at the price, but it's not rocket science to have a "soft" delete service that leaves files where they are for several months after an account is removed so it can be rapidly reinstated.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Moron's are the ones that don't bother with the facts

        Moron's what are the ones...? Anyway, we learn a few things from this:

        1. If the metadata is so important, maintain this yourself. Decent photo management software should be able to handle tags at the very least, along with all the bundled metadata. The online service should be a mirror of your own data, apart perhaps from a small number of things.

        2. If the contact information is so important, maintain this yourself. Don't delegate your social network to a service that may just decide to revoke it.

        3. If the comments are so important... Well, most comments on Flickr seem to be people posting "Your picture is invited to be part of the 100000001 best scenery pictures EVAR!" next to early- to mid-1990s animated GIFs (or something resembling the artistic result) followed by a herd of like-"minded" people, so perhaps there isn't such a loss there for most users.

        1. Steven Jones

          Maintaining metadata is not enought

          All my photos have metadata including descriptions, tags and so on, and any serious photographer will do the same, but it will not recreate the Flickr collection and sets structure, the original URLs or comments on the website.

        2. frymaster

          _decent_ software?

          "Decent photo management software should be able to handle tags at the very least"

          hell, even the MS live photo gallery thingamabob does this!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Ultimately, he should back-up his own files, not rely on the cloud. The same goes for ISPs that lose data websites or anything else. If you don't have a CD, external HD or other form of backup for data that you own and value, you're no better than someone who goes out leaving windows open for the burglars and then moans that the insurance company only want to go so far in covering your losses.

    However... Where is Flickr's backup? Do they seriously have no backups that would at least restore the majority of the photos from such an old account? What do they do when a HD fails? What contingency is there for fires or other incidents? No backups, no shadows, no protection for their users' data, or even their own?!

    1. Test Man


      Another idiot who didn't read. He DID back up his stuff!

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Sigh indeed

        Which bit of this Register article didn't I read that says he DID back up his stuf?

        1. Invidious Aardvark
          Paris Hilton

          This is the interwebz

          Try clicking on the funny coloured text - these magically transport you to other web pages (without you having to remember and type in the long piece into your browser's address bar!).

          Apparently this sort of thing is quite common on what the younger generation call the interwebz and allows one to navigate from page to page with ease, finding out all sorts of useful information (or pictures of Paris) in the process.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Now see, if the Reg wants to be cool like Yahoo, they should delete the accounts of everyone who posted "omgzor he should back up his stuffzor!!!one11!!!11!!!!1!1111".

  11. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    Surely no problem ... #2

    Surely Flikr simply recreate the account and restore the pictures from THEIR server backups? Only an idiot would run such a service without multiple redundant backups ...

  12. Neil 7

    Cloud Storage...

    It's the future, right?

  13. jubtastic1

    You need more space eh?

    *clickerty* Done, my pleasure.

    BOFHery aside I'm a little shocked they don't have backups.

  14. GilbertFilbert
    Big Brother

    Dear user - your data really is in the clouds


    1. The Commenter formally known as Matt

      data in the clouds

      and it rained recently, now your data is down the drain!

  15. andyb 2
    Paris Hilton

    Backup versus cloud

    Why would we expect the average user (a photo bogger in this case) to understand that the cloud is not secure or safe. Afterall the marketing of these services would suggest that they are such.

    Paris, cos she always delivers on a promise !! ;)

    1. Doug Glass


      And it's therefore left to us who know it all to be sure the rest of the world understands.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Paris Hilton


      Only a complete moron would believe anything that a marketing person says!

      Paris 'cause her only talent is marketing herself.

  16. Mike Echo


    Flickr should have a system whereby they suspend the account, making all content appear "gone", while automagically sending an email to the account owner saying "your account has been suspended and will be deleted in x days unless you contact us", etc.

  17. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    Very Poor Reporting

    "There seems little chance that Wilhelm will be able to retrieve his photos".

    True in the sense they are no longer on Flickr, but irrelevant as he has no need to retrieve them as he appears to have local backup according to his blog post.

    And thanks to that one line we will see many comments along the lines of "should have had a backup", "is this guy an idiot?", yadda, yadda, yadda.

    1. Doug Glass


      yadda, yadda, yadda

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Folk who enthuse about this cloud stuff and try to get it as the normal way of storing and working on things, deserve all they get, especially when the risks are obvious.

    1. alwarming
      Paris Hilton

      What if..

      ... flickr has some way to restore data - maybe only for paid accounts. The L3 support guy handling the case probably doesn't know or has no access to do that. He doesn't want to escalate it to higher level as it would expose his fault (he didn't count on blogger publishing his mail and el reg). He wants/wanted to get away with an apology.

      Paris, coz her tapes were backed up.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Timely reminder

    Must do my backups tonight!

  20. KeithSloan
    Thumb Down


    So are we to conclude that Flickr takes no backups. In which case Flickr sucks. And to think they charge for Pro accounts

  21. batfastad
    Jobs Horns


    I'm amazed that someone at Flickr was so quick to actually delete the data.

    I would have thought they would have a procedure whereby they would be retained for x number days before being finally purged from the system.

    But at the same time this guy should be happy enough that he's got 4 years of pro out of them. Yeah it was human error and they've admitted a mistake but I'm sure by the T&Cs he's signed up to they don't guarantee the availability of the data.

  22. JimC

    @Flickr should...

    And if they ran a fully professional 6 nines or whatever system with full enterprise quality backup etc what would happen to their cost model? You do tend to get what you pay for in this world.

    1. Just Thinking

      Flickr isn't a cheap service

      $12 is plenty to pay for a bit of disk space and bandwidth. It ought to be enough for them to provide a system which can recover an account a short while after they have accidentally deleted it.

      I am actually surpised they charge at all.

      Surely this incident will cost them more in lost custom than it could possibly have cost to put in a better system in the first place.

  23. James 5

    Read his article...

    ... before making comments.

    1) He states he works in IT - is fully computer aware (he works in IT) - "In my day job I actually work as an IT Architect. I do designs on complex infrastructures, delivery processes and related stuff."

    2) He does have back-ups of photographs - as has been said in other comments it's the years of comments, links etc. that he cannot re-build so quickly.

    But, of course, the answer is easy as others have pointed out. Yahoo/Flickr just restore his profile /account the last back-up (presumably the previous day). If they aren't taking daily backups of all accounts and keeping at least six months worth then they cannot be taken seriously and should be avoided like the plague.

    As someone else mentioned - multiple redundant backups...... Way to go...

    So the mega FAIL for Flickr.

    Personally I would never ever commit anything I rely on to the "cloud" UNLESS it provides one or more copies on a local computer under my control (Dropbox being a case in point).

    1. CD001

      True enough

      ... but unless I missed something Flickr has never been punted as a managed professional solution aimed at enterprise (or even business level) users. For the price they charge, you probably shouldn't expect a minimum SLA (probably not even well-trained staff unfortunately) - hell, SagePay don't even seem to have a minimum SLA and they're a card processing outfit.

      To be honest, I'd be totally farked off if I was in that guy's position - I'd probably write my own system, host it with a cheap hosting outfit and run off nightly backups on a cron job. It wouldn't have quite the community aspect of Flickr but you could use something like OpenID for user authentication I suppose so people wouldn't be just signing up for your site.

  24. unicoletti

    The sorry Flickr staffer surely felt like in that X-Men movie

    ...when Mystique was fighting with Wolverine and both were telling the other X-men: I'm the real Wolverine!

    So, uhm, which one am I supposed to delete, this guy's account or this other guy's account which are surely identical enough to each other??!

  25. Doug Glass

    Morons R Us

    Oh yeah, trust the cloud. I guess he never heard of backing up or data security in general. Oh well, he knows now.

    1. alwarming

      Morons are idiots who comment without reading the post/blog.

      Wondering why you've been downvoted by everyone, eh ?

  26. Jamie Kitson

    Flickr Backup Script

    Coincidentally I started running this last week:

  27. J. Cook Silver badge

    I don't really mind...

    I run my own gallery, with roughly 5000 pics totaling ~2 Gbytes of space. I've had to change hosting providers twice in the past couple years, and each time I've had to either re-upload the entirety of the pictures or so some really stupid shenanigans to get things back to normal. Invariably, the URLs to each image get munged.

    I call this method "force foiling people hotlinking my images and stealing my bandwidth"

  28. Doug Glass
    Paris Hilton

    I'm Just Soooooo Glad ...

    ... I haven't felt the need to plaster my name all over the internet for something so stupid as this.

    Paris because Paris gets plastered all over.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    4000 Photos?

    Is he saying that he had 4000 photos worth showing to the world? Probably a handful are good enough for display.

    The main problem with these photo sites is that users stick up every picture they have. Thanks to digital photography we can all shoot off a run of, let's say portrait shots, in which the subject moves a fraction of a millimitre in each one but some think they must post all of them.

    I haven't seen this chaps flickr pages so I'm only assuming most of it is dross but I'd be happy to bet a fair amount on it.

    1. PsychicMonkey

      well it depends

      on what you consider woth looking at. Based on the fact that it's 4000 over 5 years thats just over 2 photos a day, for someone with a serious photography hobby I suspect that is easily do-able.

      How much is a serious amount? I may take that bet....

  30. Rob Davis

    shame about flickr

    What it does it does very well apart from this sad episode. Guess people want more than just photo sharing hence the declining flickr user base.

  31. Phil 38

    Restore backup - you're f*cking kidding

    As other posters have pointed out a conventional restore of the system the size of flickr for the sake of one account wouldn't be a particularly good solution. Clearly they should have developed their site to allow for 'soft' deletes (ie data still live but hidden - instantaneous recovery in the case of errors) in the first instance followed by archiving (still allowing a relatively swift recovery from a seperate data store) and only after some time 'hard' delete (when you're reliant on backups for recovery).

    As other posters have intimated there's no guarantee that software 'in the cloud' is any better written, configured or administered than it is anywhere else.

  32. andy gibson

    Flikr Vs own domain hosting

    I don't use Flikr but I do have a lot of photos online. They're in<various folders>

    If my hoster ever screwed up or I changed, so long as I kept the domain active surely it would be very easy to restore the pictures and the links out there across the world wouldn't be broken?

    1. Mike Flugennock
      Thumb Up

      re: Flickr vs. own domain hosting

      Hear, hear.

      I use WordPress to run my blog, but run it out of my own domain. Granted, I found configuring a WP theme to run a cartoon blog a world-class pain in the ass -- even when using a pre-made theme designed for posting comics -- and I had to fight the urge to blow it off and use Blogger, even though it was far easier to set up and tweak a theme, because it was important to me that I be able to host my own blog in my own domain space, safe from being fucked with by WordPress and Google.

      Besides, I've always heard that flying in the clouds is dangerous.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Yes, thank you Andy :-)

      I've read all the comments on here and I was thinking why the hell didn't this guy have his own domain name and web hosting with whatever gallery software he wanted to run, hosting company goes belly up and upload it to a new host, no big problem.

      Maybe acid rain is back, damn those clouds! they took our jobs!

  33. Velv

    "Hello, I'd like to backup the Internet please...."

    Yes, we all keep our data in multiple places so that if we lose one, we still have a copy. But this incident proves it is not just the data that is important, but the context of it too.

    So all the links, comments, friends, etc, suddenly become part of the data. If it's important, then you should back it up.

    But how? How do you backup not just your own, but everyone else's Facebook, Twitter, El Reg, comments, wikipedia content, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc

    If you're paying for something, then you can negotiate/expect a certain level of service (T&Cs). If it's free, just how do you backup the Internet?

    Before you choose to write some tyrannical reply, I'm simply pointing out the problem - I'm not criticising any person or company. And it ain't an easy one to fix!

    "Houston, we have a problem!"

  34. Peter H. Coffin

    Summary of half the comments

    1 "Haha, he doesn't have a backup"

    2 "You can't read. He does have a backup"

    3 "Easy, he restores from his backup"

    4 "It's not the photos, it's the metadata."

    5 (implict "So he *doesn't* have a backup.")

    6 GOTO 1

    Executive-level Summary: Online service doesn't care about your data as much as you do. Care for things your own self.

    What Executives will actually take away from this point: Online services are inexpensive places to store things!

  35. Winkypop Silver badge

    Flicked by Flickr

    Clouds are quite ephemeral after all.

  36. Steve Babb

    Missing the point

    Surely the issue here isn't whether Flickr has/uses a suitable backup architecture for all of its content, that's a moot point. You can have all the storage you like and run it every 10 minutes if you want, but without the correct procedures and checks to manage that process it isn't worth the ink on this screen.

    The most worrying fact here is that the procedures broke down seemingly so easily. That is what cloud users should be concerned with, not what primary and redundant hardware exists, but what management process exists to use it properly.

    A bad workman blames his tools. A complete tool hires bad workmen.

  37. Jess--

    Flickr cant win in this situation

    by deleting the account and then not being able to recover the images on the account they have proved that they truly do delete data.

    if they had deleted the account and then been able to retrieve the images I am sure there would have been howls on here that flickr was keeping data when they should have deleted it.

    while it is unfortunate that this has happened to the blogger (wrong account deleted) it does show that flickr is following best practice with regards to data retention and deleting it as soon as it is no longer required.

    I would have thought they should have a method of blocking the account first though (for a fixed period of say 28 days) before wiping it (even if its only to prevent this situation)

  38. Mr Young

    The Cloud

    Best named new technology ever, who thought of it? They deserve some sort of prize!

  39. copsewood

    proprietary format data is the ultimate lock in

    Even if a Flickr account gave a user the ability to rsync a binary dump of the whole account if this is in a proprietary storage format which works only in Flickr that wouldn't be much use for someone wanting to move their data elsewhere, links, comments and all.

    Proprietary services using monopoly website providers on the cloud are the ultimate lock in. Open standards for how to store, link and format data which anyone can implement are the antidote.

    I only upload important data to my own domain name using open sourced data formats. Web 2.0 is for all the crap I can afford to walk away from.

  40. Pirate Dave Silver badge


    I'll probably get flamed for saying this, but he got what he paid for. Sure, he paid $24/year. $24 a year? That's a pittance. If his photos and such were so very important, maybe he should have put them on a site with a guaranteed SLA, not on a mostly free site that also has a "pro" plan. Sure, Flicker fucked up on this, but the real fault lies with the user for trusting important stuff to a $24/year plan. And then bitching about it. Life sucks, move on.

  41. This post has been deleted by its author

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What to expect

    What would you expect from yahoos?

    Does that mean I can send in a complaint and get someone else's account deleted?

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It's a free service FFS. You should never rely on a free service for anything that you consider important. I'm heartilly bored of all those people who use free services, signed up to certain T&Cs and then whinge when things go wrong.

    Yes somebody screwed up big time, but if you're getting a service for nothing then the compensation you are due is nothing. Unless of course the T&Cs state otherwise.

    I can't be arsed to read Flickr's T&C's but most web hosting companies make it pretty clear that they don't back up any of your data and if you want a backup then that's up to you.

  44. Anonymous Coward

    I know how he feels

    As he is/was an IT Architect- he should be aware you cant trust everything to the cloud and if its important enough you need to have multiple backups.It was human error and its not gonna make it better

    However I can understand his pain as back in 2000 when I was in school I scanned over a thousand wedding photos (that family member died a few years back) I posted them onto my yahoo photo album.Unfortunately while I was on holiday for a couple of months Yahoo decided to

    get rid of yahoo photo albums and i only managed to read the email giving notice after the event.

    I dont have the originals as the wedding was in 1994 and I moved house twice since.

    Another reason to avoid The Cloud like the plague if you have data you want to keep safe

  45. hstiles

    the solution is simple

    Flickr should provide a backup service for the end user that allows them to backup their image database and or metadata. The onus of backing up is passed onto the consumer and a small adjustment to the T&Cs absolves Flickr of any responsiblity.

    The biggest problem with cloud services such as Flickr is that the scale of the operations makes inconvenience caused to single or small groups of individuals of little or no consequence and that's the bit that people often fail to appreciate.

  46. Stevie


    Never mind if the owner has a back-up or not.

    Why doesn't a hucking fuge operation like Flickr have one? putting back the data to yesterday should be a non-trivial but essentially straightforward task FFS.

  47. AbortRetryFail

    It's the metadata

    If eBay closed someone's account and they lost all their trading history and feedback rankings, people wouldn't be saying "what a moron for not backing it up" because there is no way of backing up stuff like this.

    This situation is the same - the photos themselves are (ironically) of minor loss as he has them backed up.

  48. Framitz

    Trusting the cloud

    Anyone that doesn't have a backup other than online is suffering from some form of false security.

    I have no sympathy for this fool.

  49. NoneSuch Silver badge

    You have to be kidding me...

    If you post something online and that text, image, data or material is important to you then you should have a personal backup somewhere.

    If you do not keep such a backup then you have no right to b*tch when it disappears on you.

    This just shows that Cloud computing is no different than any other sort of computing. When it buggers up, you better have an up to date backup to hand.

  50. BongoJoe
    Gates Horns


    What happens if El Reg accidently deletes my account. Will all my wonderful messages be lost?

    And who at the back said "Hopefully" there?

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dear mods

    Can you delete all the post calling the guy and idiot for not backing his photos up?? How many times do we have to say it ? HE HAS BACK UPS. You folks wounder how politicians get stupid stuff passed this is how . People refusing to educate them selfs and then make a statements that is silly .

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Flickr has no system in place to protect itself in any way from a slip of the finger by one of its employees.

    This is what I think should happen:

    Oh, sorry: we've just lost an entire board of directors and a some managers, and, what a shame, but we have no way to restore them.

    How any It professional (this site is supposed to be for IT pros, isn't it?) cold think otherwise, beats me.

    In fact... I'd have to say that they must be f'ing kidding.

  53. Leeroy
    Paris Hilton


    1. For around £30 a year you could use some cheap web space that could be easily backed up via FTP. You could alternatly use it as your backup destination if you did not mind people seeing all your crap. Your links would never break as you could just upload the entire sets / file structure from your backup or local copy.

    2.Or why not host it all yourself on a spare PC + Dyn Dns, its not offsite backup but at least it eliminates one point of failure and you have most of the advantages as above.

    Why people expect ANY free or cheap online service to provide a decent service is beyond me. Its up to you to keep your stuff safe and being in IT that guy knows it all to well. The only reason they want your crap is to data mine and then advertise to anyone looking at it, do they REALLY care if it goes missing ?

    Icon ? once its in the "cloud" it is out of your control !

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anyone who has ever used a Yahoo service

    knows that they delete your account first and ask questions never.

    Storing your photos in the cloud is dumb, but trusting Yahoo to do it is a fatal error.

  55. Cheshire Cat

    You get what you pay for...

    I suppose that, for $12/year, you shouldnt really be expecting much in the way of data security and backups. If you want to have a full SLA and so on then it will cost you more -- maybe Flickr should look at a premium service with this additional backup support...

    He of course has his own backups of the photos themselves, but the metadata on Flickr has gone. They've offered compensation for the messup but when it comes down to it, you shouldnt rely too much on services which are free or cost pennies.

  56. Mike Flugennock

    Two words:

    Local. Backup.

    That is all.

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the cloud - another load of bankers

    only in this case: too big to be backed up

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't trust the cloud

    A few years ago Telewest had a crash on their email servers and lost everyones stored emails. When people complained the response was along the lines of "we don't make any commitment to store emails indefinitely so its not our problem". That's why (even before this) I always donwloaded emails to store on my disks (and have my own backup strategies).

    [in honesty mode, I must admiit at one point I did manage to delete emails on our storage ... my backup system become more robust after this!]

    For me things like flickr cloud storage may be a useful way to share photos with other people and possibly serve as a form of backup but its not what you want as your primary (and in this case it seems only storage)

  59. A J Stiles

    What would Nye Bevan have done under the circumstances?

    Maybe it's time to start thinking in terms of a nationalised IT infrastructure? This would have to be based on 100% Open technology, of course, so that no single vendor could hold whole countries to ransom.

    Nobody remembers the days before the National Grid was completed, when electrical supplies were not standardised and as likely as not your appliances would be unusable if you moved house -- different areas might well be on different voltages and/or frequencies.

    Grenade, because I know I just dropped the N-bomb.

  60. Anonymous Coward

    Ever heard of Hard Drives?

    "Until there are independently vetted service level agreements defining the rights and duties of cloud storage service providers and their users, any storage of data in the cloud is like parking your car at the side of the road with the keys in it."

    Amen. And that, Brothers and Sisters, is why God created the hard drive.

  61. CynicalOptimist


    In theory, companies learn by their mistakes and improve their products and services as a result. But in the brave new world of the cloud, many more users of paid for (and free) web services will find themselves the victims of human error and weaknesses in system design. Still, in the case of flickr, with millions of unique users, you have to be pretty unlucky for something like this to happen to you (which is clearly no comfort if it does happen!).

  62. Tom Reg

    Storing data on the cloud is 10x to 1000x more robust than at home.

    That is simply wrong. Something like every minute some person loses all the data on their laptop/desktop, etc - cause normal people don't backup. So putting images on Flickr/Google/S3 is really likely about 1000 times more robust than leaving them only in your house unbacked up, and likely about 10x safer than only in-house backup due to fire, backup system not configured right, etc.

    Add to that botnets, keystroke loggers and other privacy invasions at home. Your data is definitely better off in the Cloud.

    The right way to think about it is to store important data in the cloud, then use a "Back Down" program to keep some sort of backup locally.

  63. Giles Jones Gold badge


    Cloud storage has the potential to make life easier but not if it is administered by idiots.

    Looks like Yahoo and Microsoft are a good fit, both seem utterly useless at keeping your data safe.

  64. Joe Burmeister

    Cloud exports/import

    What we really need is a way of exporting and importing between the cloud and local storage. This of course depends on the cloud type, but it's really important! We need to be able to self host too, so we can view/use the data locally. How to enforce this I don't know, but without it, we are asking to get screwed like this. As he said, he had all the photos, but not the cloudy meta data. This would aid moving stuff between clouds too, thus aid competition. It's a terrible system we have now, and one I avoid as much as possible. RMS is so right about all this, as normal.

  65. Lamont Cranston

    To everyone getting angry:

    By my reading of it, the article makes no mention of the user having his own backups, so you'd only glean this information by clicking one of the linked articles.

    My reaction to the article was along the lines of "So what, he must have backups." From the comments here (I didn't read any of the linked articles, either), I gather that the problem is not the loss of the photos, rather the structure of his blog, and the time invested in it, and the working of any links to his blog. Again, so what? If his blog was so important, maybe a free photo site wasn't the place to host it? (I may be missing something here, but I really don't care).

  66. stuhacking

    Flickr was your *primary* storage?

    Too bad for you.

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    More fool him for not having a local back-up.

  68. TimB

    Looks like he got it back

    Yahoo have clearly been reading the comments, and finally figured out how to restore data.

    Thread over.

  69. Saoir


    I just closed my account. Thankfully I had only 120 photos, but their action and reaction is just not good enough.

  70. Callum Winton

    picture dumping ground

    It's only Flickr ... won't have been important images

  71. marcieterman

    The devil is in the detail

    I am not surprised to see that this article and its original tweet have generated a heart-felt debate about the pros and cons of storing data in the cloud because most of us today make use of one form or another of cloud-based services, from Google mail to social networking and file sharing websites and therefore the story touched a nerve with many readers.

    However I think it’s unfair, as some commentators have done, to paint all cloud and managed service providers with the same brush and saying that ‘this is what you get if you put your data in the cloud.’ Saying all providers are the same is like saying that Burger King is the same as Jamie’s Italian! Some sell volume without quality assurance others offer guarantees they backup with strong SLAs. I agree that, as one Twitter post read, ‘the devil is in the (SLA) detail’ because even when users sign up with large players, if they fail to read the small print, they end up with less than they bargained for.

    As for the Flickr user, he seems to have indeed experienced extremely poor service, especially given the fact that he was a paying customer. And while the T&Cs might have stated that in accidents such as these the company accepts no fault, the reality remains that having a big brand let a customer down in this way has probably damaged the reputation of many other providers because in the long-term people will remember the loss but not necessarily the culprit, and they will revert to more traditional approaches to protecting themselves – and their data – because it’s better safe than sorry.

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