What would happen if Sugmug closed!

guyguy Registered Users Posts: 191 Major grins

I've been with Smugmug since shortly after they began business I believe back in 2002 or 2003. I'm very happy with the Service and have no plans or desire to change. After so many years though I have a boat load of photos uploaded. North of 60K actually, it made me wonder what would I do if Smugmug decided to close down. Yes I have most if not all of the photos on a hardrive or 2 as well but not as well organized as they are on Smugmug. Anyone have any thoughts on this?



  • RichardRichard Administrators, Vanilla Admin Posts: 19,908 moderator

    Everyone should have multiple copies of everything they value on separate media, preferably in separate locations as well. I would think that with 60k pics, you're using some catalog management software, like Lightroom, to keep track of things. If not, you really ought to consider using one. The SmugMug plugin in LR will let you synchronize your LR catalog and your SM organization, which could be helpful

  • BenBen Vanilla Admin Posts: 513 SmugMug Employee

    Hey Guy,

    I also have my entire photographic history/life on SmugMug at this point, starting in 2002. I have my vacations, my first date with my wife, the birth of my daughters, etc. Theoretically I might have those photos elsewhere, but not organized and easily findable and searchable.

    For most of our history, we've had a lot of different download and archive options. These days there aren't as many, as we tend to focus it on a robust API and community engagement. The good news is that because of that API, any company and service can pretty easily write a full blown archiving tool to grab all your content (with your permission) and move it to their service.

    In the tragic event we had to shut down someday, which hopefully never happens, our top priority would be to make sure there are great paths for you to recover your photos. Our top priority has always been to take care of the photos we are entrusted with, and that would be our final priority as well.

    The good news is that we are healthy, and the future looks bright. We've manage to do this for 16 years, and I hope we have a few more decades left in us. But if that ever changed, our first concern would be taking care of your priceless memories.


    Smug since 2003
  • ShinryaShinrya Registered Users Posts: 197 Major grins

    Just to echo what Richard said, having multiple backups is definitely worth it in the long term. I've lost stuff in the past due to poor management of backups, and as a full time traveler I'm more at risk of losing everything.

    All of my main 'portfolio' work is stored on SM, whether it's displayed on my site or not. The great thing is if I need to quickly access a high res file, it can be quicker to just download it rather than search through a drive.

    I carry 2x portable hard drives which store all of my RAW+Processed TIFF/JPGS for the past 5 years. Both drives are identical for redundancy. One drive stays in my backpack, the other in my suitcase.
    Laptop contains all of my RAW+Processed work for the past year, so in addition to the hard drives, I now have 3 copies of everything just in-case. The problem is that these 3 copies are all physically on my person, and always moving. So potential for damage/theft etc.

    My final backup solution happens roughly once a year, when I get the opportunity to offload my previous years work onto a RAID hard drive I keep in storage, off-site. This drive holds everything I've ever done, and again is a RAID 1 configuration for redundancy.

  • WildernessExclusivesWildernessExclusives Registered Users Posts: 23 Big grins
    I'm just starting with SmugMug, only have about 150 photos, but a hard drive of mine just crashed and having them saved on here was a good peace of mind. Thankfully they were able to recover the hard drive, and I received it yesterday.

    Check out my page: Images, and photography/travel blog:wildernessexclusives.com

  • HpixHpix Registered Users Posts: 44 Big grins

    I agree with Ferguson, for the same reasons. I was editor-in-chief of DataBased Advisor magazine for many years, and could fill this forum with disaster stories of those who believed "the other guy" would 100% protect and manage your data. A related risk is when "the other guy" uses a non-standard or proprietary format for your data. Terrific until you can't get all or any of your data back in your hands 100% because the software or server becomes unavailable, or it turns out it never really stored 100% of what you put there (SmugMug's metadata problem). Since the first or second time data was "lost" due to one-way, proprietary, or incomplete syncing with an outside system or service, a sub-industry arose to rescue the data...if possible. Don't go there...

    A solution that has worked for me for many years:

    -- Store ALL your data locally, 100% in your control. Buy as many hard drives as you need, and keep buying. Ideally, double up on those so every file is locally in two places. If feasible, store one backup drive set off-site.

    -- Backup automatically so there's little chance to forget. I use Syncback SE, automated to run daily, but there are many similar apps.

    -- Organize your data/photos via folders and meta data AND a database system. Don't rely on the outside/cloud storage to do this for you. Just ask those who used Google Picasa with tags, but ended up with Google Photos with "image recognition", Google thinks that automatically recognizing cars, mountains, and elephants is more helpful than using human-added photo-specific tags. Isn't it precious that Google Photos can show me all the houses in my collection, but never locate my great great grandparents house? Or much of anything I actually care about. Because it ignores my metadata.

    -- Organizing via your computer's file system as first level (then metadata/tags for precision), I have three main image trees, Main, Business, Misc. Main (which is really personal family and travel) has subfolders by Year\Month. Business by activity or event or whatever is useful. Misc for everything else, a subfolder for each useful type of "everything". A little bit more to do up-front, but then it's done and forever helpful. The folders are the first level of organization, but the key to precise management is the metadata that I TYPE IN, plus organizer software than can use it 100%.

    -- manage your photos via an organizer that is reads and writes ALL metadata -- under your control -- and is non-proprietary. I use JRiver Media Center for my photos (and also music and video). For photos, JRMC uses a local very fast database, but not for storage of my media, for storage of everything ABOUT my media -- location of every drive (including network and removable), folder, file, and metadata/tags for each file. It is a way to work with whatever storage and tagging/metadata system I desire. It seems to read and write all of the types/blocks of metadata directly from/to the photo files. It stores the location of each file/photo, doesn't care where, and if I move the photo it updates the database. No heavy overhead. I can even create custom fields/tags and it will store those too. Plus it shows all the photos, as thumbnails, mid-size, full size, whatever I want, in views I can customize endlessly. Another time-saver, I can edit metadata of any number of photos, a dozen to tens of thousands, all at once. After a long trip or event, I select all those photos and type in a Caption, Keywords, Date, Place, whatever I want. Bang! all 812 photos are updated, in the database AND in the actual photo files metadata. Later I usually revise these tags with more specific info,which can be done in batches too. I edit in JRMC's Tags form, which updates the database AND the physical photo files, which then are picked up by my backup system as changed files, and if the files are already on SM I also usually upload to SmugMug using Upload+Replace now that it has been fixed. Enormous time-saver. Not trying to sell JRMC, just saying any chosen organizer should be similar, non-proprietary storage, 100% of data. Because all metadata is both in the photo file and in the database, if either one gets messed up, with a couple of clicks I can copy from the other one: photo files into library, or library data into photos. If I share a photo, the other person can (I hope) read all the tags since they are standard, so each photo is 100% self-contained. (For file formats that can't store the full range of metadata, JRMC creates sidecar files with simple XML so the data is never lost). And it is incredibly fast. It is not an editor of anything but tags, but it can do one-click integration with whatever editors you have. I do this all the time realizing a photo needs straightening, cropping, image diddling, one click and it is open in whatever editor I desire, I can set up several to be a click away.

    Not intending to argue with other ways to do things, just preaching from hard-won knowledge to never ever rely on proprietary, one-way, incomplete storage.

  • colourboxcolourbox Registered Users Posts: 2,095 Major grins
    edited March 8, 2019

    @guy said:
    what would I do if Smugmug decided to close down. Yes I have most if not all of the photos on a hardrive or 2 as well but not as well organized as they are on Smugmug. Anyone have any thoughts on this?

    Have to agree with the responses here. It's always the responsibility of each of us individuals to ensure the security of our family's photo archives. We cannot outsource that to any company, because even the best-intentioned companies can go under. Ofoto/Kodak Gallery, Yahoo! Photos, Digital Railroad, Exposure Manager, once big names...all gone. I feel pretty secure about the way Smugmug is run, but just in case...I feel that the local archive you manage must be the definitive one.

    I have over 100,000 photos and videos, according to Lightroom. All those raws, videos, scans, and JPEGs fit on a single 4TB hard drive with space to spare. You can get one for under $100 now. I have three of those drives. One is in my computer, the other is a backup that is updated every time I import photos from a camera, and the third is also a backup stored at a bank. Once in a while I'll stop by the bank and swap out my two backups so that the one in the bank is current and I can update the one I just retrieved. This is so that at least one copy of my archive of photos and videos can survive the complete destruction (or robbery) of my home, and/or failure of all online services.

    The key is to use backup software that remembers your drives and jobs so that updating a backup takes just a minute or two. Plug in the backup drive, run the job, it figures out what's changed and only updates that. (I use Carbon Copy Cloner on the Mac.) Then the backup drive goes back into my fire safe.

    Images are keyworded, captioned, and organized locally, so that if any photo website I use disappears, I could simply re-create the online galleries from my local organization where that work is permanently archived. I am not tied to a provider failing and taking a lot of work with it.

    I would rely more on online backups, but I live in a place where the Internet is not fast enough to upload all my raws and videos in a timely manner.

    Keep in mind too that when photo websites have gone down in the past, even when they announce in advance, the resulting rush of users to download tens of thousands of non-backed-up photos before the last day of service often overwhelms the servers.* You may have a super fast gigabit Internet connection into your home, but if the server is so busy with requests that it can only dribble out a few KB a second, you may not get all your photos back in time. A complete, backed-up local archive is always the best option. Online photo storage is a great backup option, but works best as secondary, not primary, backup.

    *Just a month ago, even Smugmug had to extend the cutoff for image deletion on Filckr, the site they acquired, to give users more time, due to download complications.

  • SpokesriderSpokesrider Registered Users Posts: 3 Big grins
    > Smugmug should be a display for you, NOT a storage location.
    > Smugmug should NEVER be a point of coding or organization; metadata such as captions, titles, keywords; organization such as files and folders should be done on your own computer (or cloud or where-ever you control), and not Smugmug. Smugmug should just parrot what you do elsewhere. The key here is "one version of the truth" or think of it as "one master copy" -- and it isn't Smugmug.

    I think the moral of the story is that a good solution does not exist. I have backups of my photos on removable hard drives, rotated so that one or more of the backups might survive an EMP event, and also use the Crashplan service (now under a new name). I use XviewMP to add keywords and captions to my photos, not that it makes them any easier to find and view, but because. But displaying my family photos means displaying my photos with the stories, which sometimes can be put in captions and sometimes not. And comments from family members are part of the stories.

    Before using SmugMug I had some family photos in Google Plus, which was a halfway decent service, but am getting warnings from Google that this time they really are going to start deleting those photos. I'm importing my GooglePlus posts into into SmugMug pages, one photo at a time, one post at a time, paragraph by paragraph, and am copying the comments into a text box as well. But I'm not going to add further to that collection of photos, or encourage comments, because something like this could happen again.

    Google didn't provide a way to export the whole works into a huge file (or set of files) with markup that could then be modified as necessary to meet the needs of a new service. Nor does SmugMug provide a way to do that.

    I would have kept my mouth shut about it for now, except for the comment from a SmugMug VP saying the company is now focusing on community engagement. But community engagement is precisely what SmugMug is no good for if there is no way of futureproofing these data.

    So I'm going to continue to use SmugMug, with the realization that an internet-based solution is too ephemeral for what I really need. We lived without the internet before, and it's possible the day will come when we have to do it again.
  • edshedsh Registered Users Posts: 27 Big grins

    Hello good people!

    We're actually creating a software service which includes things like backing up and syncronizing all Smugmug data and images/ videos to external locations of choice and with searchable indexing/ metadata.

    If anyone is interested about it, I can get back with status updates for you.

    Happy friday!
    // Edsh

  • corpuzrobcorpuzrob Registered Users Posts: 77 Big grins

    @edsh, yes, I'm interested! Thank you!

  • PhotoLucasPhotoLucas Registered Users Posts: 1 Beginner grinner
    edited February 19, 2020
    I have had many nights pondering this exact question!
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