With the digital age in full swing – and with mobile phones and digital cameras spreading at exponential rates – providing a place to store and display photos is becoming a serious online business. That’s where image Web hosts come in. They allow individuals to upload images on to a website and to store those images on their Web servers.
Depending on what a user is looking for, image hosting comes in various forms. Do a Web search and you’ll find solutions ranging from free, bare-bones uploading on an ad-splashed site – where images may never be found again – to paid services, offering organized features, unlimited bandwidth and quality support.
With such an extensive market facing consumers, TopHosts took a deep look at the state of Image hosting, where it’s headed and what to look out for.
Free Services Peaked
Brett Marks is Proprietor and CEO of ImageViper, a provider of free and paid image hosting services. He thinks that the industry as a whole has already plateaued and that the basic, template-based Free image host sites, usually offered for free, are in decline. He says more and more paid, feature-based image hosting services are hitting the scene.
“It seems nowadays that every man and their dog has an image hosting site,” Marks said. “But I think they (free/basic image hosting websites) have hit their peak and their infancy is starting to die down a bit now.”
ImageViper offers the best of both worlds. Free accounts provide the company with the exposure they need, Marks explained, while giving users a “taste” of their services, and perhaps encouraging them to purchase a paid account down the road.
Paid Solutions Growing
Web hosting provider, SiteGround.com, is well known for their paid image hosting services and expertise. Its image hosting plan costs $4.95/month and comes with free domain name registration, 40 GB of space, 900 GB traffic and free installation of popular open source applications, namely, Coppermine and Gallery online picture galleries.
Lilyana Yakimova, Marketing Manager at SiteGround, says that image galleries are among the top five most popular purchases for the company. She believes demand for image hosting, especially paid services, will grow in the coming years because digital-technology is becoming more widespread and easier to use.
“Making quality pictures and even videos is getting more and more easier,” Yakimova said. “People will start looking for more space to fit the bigger sizes of quality images and faster connection for easier upload.”
Compare Features, Limitations
Yakimova says if you’re looking for more freedom, online security and no advertisements, paid image hosting is the way to go. Free image hosting limits users in disk space and bandwidth, and may also provide questionable software and server security.
SiteGround’s image hosting solution functions as their regular hosting plans do. They come with a free domain, personal email accounts, free installations, free tutorials, expert 24/7 support and an uptime guarantee.
Marks of ImageViper says that, most importantly, paid image hosting offers generous space limits. He says to always check out and compare the limitations offered if you’re considering a paid service. ImageViper’s paid solution, ranging from $1.99/month for 100 MB to $4.99/month for 300 MB, comes with unlimited bandwidth, unlimited amount of folders, multiple image uploading ability, no ads and an array of other features.
Not Just About Space
He says customers appreciate the many features, user-friendly interface and unlimited bandwidth – especially power users who know that large amounts of storage space is useless without the bandwidth to serve images.
“Be wary of sites offering large amounts of space but low bandwidth,” Marks said. “Also don’t get fooled into hosts wanting to charge you a ‘per image’ charge or places that are offering too many confusing plans and limits.”
Yakimova of SiteGround agrees that space should not be the only criteria when considering a paid image hosting service. “The customers should avoid judging a hosting provider based only on the space and the traffic it provides,” she said. “As I said, server security and technical support are the most important features.”