And Then a Hero Comes Along

I’m a sporadic blogger AT BEST, but I like to keep these posts to look back on from time to time, and others do the same. It was one such inquiry asking after my post on London that led me to realize that all the pictures had gone missing courtesy of Photobucket’s heavy-handed scheme.

I was irate, and this blog is mere hobby. I am conscious of the fact that many of you more serious bloggers were placed in a very difficult situation, which seemed to be by design, since no advance notice was given.

But, for those unwilling to pony up $400 per year (on principle or out of practicality), I wanted to share a possible solution with you. My first thought was Flickr.

I had used Flickr sporadically, and updated a few of my most recent posts using that service, since my photos were already uploaded there. Flickr has a pretty interface, and it’s a sleek, reputable photo-sharing site. I’ve often considered abandoning Photobucket in favor of Flickr over the years, but have been deterred by how tedious it is to retrieve direct links to my photos, which is how I place them into posts. It was extremely time-consuming and labor-intensive to fix just one of my blog entries using Flickr. It took me about 4 hours for ONE blog entry.

Clearly, I needed to find another option. I read through a few of the lists of Photobucket alternatives, and my interest was piqued when I read about CubeUpload, which operates on a donation model.

The website is simple and straightforward, albeit bare-bones. But, upon setting up an account, I was able to select options to:

* Retain my photo file names, and
* Use direct links.

So, when I loaded my photos, the direct link was automatically there with the thumbnail, ready to be copy/pasted as needed.

I had hoped that the ability to retain the file names would help cut down on the time it would take me to comb back through my entire backlog and replace the Photobucket links with working ones through CubeUpload. (This is another downside of Flickr — it generates its own filenames when you upload.)

So, if you’ve followed me this far, I am going to share my process in the hopes that it will be helpful to some of you who are in the same boat. Forgive me if this is hard to follow, but I’ll do the best I can.

First, I open the html view of the blog post, copying all of it and pasting it into a blank Word document.

Then, I use Word’s Find and Replace feature to swap out the photobucket address (less the file name) with the CubeUpload address. For example:

If the image source is http://i107.photobucket.com/albums/400/username/album/FILE_100.jpg, you’ll want to FIND http://i107.photobucket.com/albums/400/username/album/ and REPLACE with the root of the CubeUpload address: http://u.cubeupload.com/username/

Choose “replace all” and run this for the entire document. That should’ve changed your image source to http://u.cubeupload.com/username/FILE_100.jpg

At this point, if your file name looks like mine, you still have one more issue to overcome, which is that CubeUpload omits underscores and dashes from filenames during the upload. So, my link in the example would fail because my “FILE_100” from Photobucket (and my hard drive) would become “FILE100” on CubeUpload.

Find and Replace can fix this as well. Going through the same process, FIND _ and REPLACE it with nothing. Just clear out the entire REPLACE field entirely. When, you “Replace All,” the underscores will vanish and your links should work. Presto!

Consider before taking this step whether you have any underscores that you need to keep in your blog post. It may be easier for you to manually delete them from the file names rather than risk messing up something else. I opted to manually delete my dashes since I tend to use them somewhat liberally when I write.

A few other words of caution:

* CubeUpload does not utilize albums, so if you upload multiple files with the same name, CubeUpload will add a prefix to differentiate the second file. Hypothetically, this could result in random pictures of Paris in the middle of your blog post on Philadelphia. I’ve found that an “ounce of prevention” is preferable here, so I recommend scrolling through each set of uploads as you do them, so that you can find the oddball filenames at that stage and correct them in your Word document before you ultimately paste that back into your blog editor.

* If your filenames are lengthy, CubeUpload will shorten them, leaving you with broken links in your blog if you don’t catch them as you go. The filenames will cap out at 20 characters (not counting the suffix).

* CubeUpload will only process 50 photos at a time, so you’ll have to have a bit of patience. It’s easier to double check file names in batches of 50, anyway. I do, however, recommend that you upload photos AS YOU GO. The biggest downside of CubeUpload is that every picture you upload there goes under IMAGES, which shows you 12 pictures, with the option to “Load More” (12 more), and from there, the only option is to “Load All,” which can be a slower process depending on how many photos you’ve stashed there. If you’re only using CubeUpload to host photos for a blog or website, chances are that you, like me, will never need to search back to those pictures again.

* If — heaven help you — you do need to retrieve some of your files from Photobucket, you may be greeted with those same tacky “upgrade your account” images where your pictures should be. I found that clicking on “download” will still download a copy of your photo, though I couldn’t get much of their other functionality to work. Insult to injury and all that.

CubeUpload doesn’t offer much in the way of bells and whistles (though it’s possible they may get fancier if they receive enough money through donations), but I’ve been perfectly pleased with their service and simplicity. They’ve saved me hundreds of hours of tedious work AND $400. So, if you opt to use their service, PLEASE DONATE. Call it a fee for services rendered or a thank you for not being a complete and total jerk (NOT TO NAME ANY NAMES).

Happy blogging! And Happy “Third Party Hosting!”

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