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Troubled Fotki thanks subscribers for support and says photos are safe

By Richard Butler on Jun 13, 2012 at 22:56 GMT

Photo hosting site Fotki has said all its subscribers’ photos, galleries and comments are safe and that the site will continue, following cash concerns. Subscribers will also be able to download their full-size original images or have the option to pay ‘a small fee’ for continued storage or faster, FTP downloads. Founder and owner Dmitri Don also said the support of the Fotki community has ensured the site’s future.

The company had previously asked subscribers for payment towards the hosting costs of the large original files, leading to accusations of holding images to ransom (though Don stresses the images presented on the site were never threatened). In response to this feedback, Fotki has now made it possible to download original files through a web browser.

'I know a lot of people are angry, and worried about their images, and maybe I could have communicated better, but I'm not doing this to cash-in,’ Don explained: ‘I'm doing this because it was the only way of saving the site.'

He explains that he was 'trying to do something to get out of this hell' and says that the company 'hasn't deleted anything.'

Community support

Don says the most positive aspect of the experience has been the support the company has received from its community: 'It's true there was some negativity, but, without exception, every single Fotki user who started talking to me changed their tone to one of the utmost support and understanding.'

Enough subscribers have supported the move and that the company is now safe he says: 'the positive news is that a lot of people have paid for their storage, so we have cash, we've been able to pay our bills and we're not closing down - definitely.' Users who need their original files will be able to download them, if they don’t want to pay the $0.06 per GB, per month hosting fee.

'There will also be the option, for a small charge, to download over FTP, which will be a more convenient option,' he said: 'we have to charge to make sure that everybody doesn't do it at the same time and overload the servers. But it means that everybody will be able to get any original files they don't have backups of.'

Don explained to us the problems at Fotki: 'We've been online for 14 years and, until 2008, everything went well. We took on staff, we opened an office. In 2008 the economy collapsed and the iPhone came out. People started using their mobile phones to take pictures and uploaded them to other sites - they didn't need Fotki for that. Revenue started to go down and we had to cut salaries, then fire people, then close the office. We are a small business - a family company. We don't have investors to turn to.'

'It got to the stage that, if we didn't do something fast, there would be no site - everyone would lose everything. What we've been trying to do is find a way to stop that happening. The only thing we can optimize is our hosting.'

'The problem is that we have all these terabytes of originals that aren't being viewed or downloaded - we've basically been giving away free storage and that was killing us.'

However, he says, the future of the business down require them to find a way of working out who needs the storage they're using and that means asking users to pay for their storage. 'We need to know, really fast, who needs their storage.' In a blog post on the Fotki site, he suggests the company might change its business model: 'One idea I see is that we might get rid of memberships, and only offer pay-as-you-go method.' The company will also be experimenting with seeking donations. 'As we progress, we'll be trying different things, to work out what we can do to try to make everyone happy.'


Total comments: 34
Cristiano Silva
By Cristiano Silva (Apr 5, 2013)

Does anybody still believe these guys? These "news" were posted on June 13th, 2012. That was almost 10 months ago and I don't see things getting better. In fact, today I couldn't even manage to log into my account... "The service is temporarily unavailable", they say. But I'll try to keep patient - now there is only one album left to be migrated.

By Boris (Feb 25, 2013)

I wonder how much longer fotki will be able to stay in has deserted the site? communications from them!

By waynelr (Jul 16, 2012)

Sure wish I could remove the testimonial I wrote some years ago. Anyone know how?

By waynelr (Jul 15, 2012)

After eleven years on Fotki I've accumulated a lot of photos there. Now it seems my usage is more than the acclaimed 'unlimited storage'. My account is paid for the next ten years, but I've received no word about a possible refund should I choose to defect.

My ability to add new files and download old ones was curtailed without any prior warning. Any messages to that event were were received after the fact.

The vast majority of my 'originals' were saved as 200k to 800k files not the 30-40MB files Fotki is complaining about. I even offered to have all of these deleted five days ago, but no response has been received.

The tool offered to delete these files only works on one album at a time so it became a very tedious task to attempt on my own.

Perhaps Fotki should quit advertising 'UNLIMITED' storage for paid subscribers since it is in fact a very finite limit.

I am now trying Photobucket as an alternative to Fotki and will most likely become a paid subscriber very soon.

By shutterhappens (Jun 23, 2012)

Can't say I feel sorry for them.

I used to be a loyal customer for years. Then I found a very annoying bug. Sometimes password protected albums cannot be accessed by guests. I reported the bug to them and after a long time they still didn't fix the bug, I moved to smugmug and has been happy.

1 upvote
By makofoto (Jun 20, 2012)

I've always liked Fotki and their look and services over the other major hosts. They've been very responsive to my suggestions and I'm proud to say that they implemented a number of them. I've had a few customer complaints about print quality, but typically "they're" prints have been quite good. They've always reprinted any problem prints.

I expect hosting costs to go up as files get larger and larger ... and expect to have to pay more for the space that we use up. Odd that people always want free stuff. I want good stuff! These companies aren't going to survive without making a profit ...

By digitalshooter (Jun 22, 2012)

Hosting cost going up is one thing, locking folks out of their accounts and denying them free all ready paid for access is another.

They realy need to be reported to the FTC and the BBB of Canada and the Ministry there!

Many of us BOUGHT AND PAID FOR premium accounts, when FOTKI ran their sales. WE HELPED! My file size and uploading had basically slowed and was no burden on them.

Its sad that they will more than likely get away with this!

Remember FOTKI, what goes a round, comes around!

Jon Lemke
By Jon Lemke (Jun 15, 2012)

I've been a fotki member since 2001 and was disapointed to see this. Fotki offered a reasonable price for unlimitted photo hosting, which is the reason I stayed with them so long. With these changes there's really no reason to stay. Given that they obviously don't have the money to improve the site any time soon, I suspect it will slowly fade away. Fortunately I have plenty of other copies of my photos and my membership expires early next year.

By Scenery1974 (Jun 17, 2012)

Ur Ignorant Jon...! Show us 1 other Company in this World.., tht would say just a Quarter, of what he Explained to his Customers! And iD be Surprised... If i myself had a Company, and i had some1 wth ur Attitude for a Customer, i would'nt mind seeing u gO.!.

By digitalshooter (Jun 18, 2012)

Great reply by someone who joined to make this reply, very suspicious!

By LCMETZ (Jun 15, 2012)

I am sorry FOTKI is having problems. Their membership prices are nominal and I would pay more. The contests are what I enjoy. That and the networking with other photographers via comments. I do use Smugmug for photo marketing, merchandising, and password protected client interaction. They use Bay Photo, EZ Prints, and WHCC for printing which seem to do a good job. Local work I farm out to local printers - even "ugh" Sams club once in awhile. I never photo archive online. I have three external hard drives for redundancy - one off site in a fire proof safe deposit box. I will use Dropbox for small archives when traveling.

By jaykumarr (Jun 14, 2012)

I ordered one blow up of my photo in fotki, and that turned out sharp picture with good colors. Then I ordered seven blow ups. All are mushy with dull colors. When contacted fotki, they rudely replied "we are no longer working with the printing company that did your first order. So it won't make sense to compare". I said bye bye to them.

1 upvote
By aardvark7 (Jun 14, 2012)

The element I find most curious is only alluded to now and then, rather than stated categorically: that Fotki pay someone for the hosting are actually only an intermediary.

From the outside, it would seem that they have allowed the financial situation between them and the server owners to reach breaking point before addressing the issue.

Whether the suddeness of the crisis is down to Fotki management or that of the hosting company doesn't appear to be clear.

However, it could be viewed as not entirely accurate to say that members' pictures were safe. It would depend on the nature of any contract between that company and Fotki as to whether they could just pull the plug and delete everything without reference to the Fotki members. Only Fotki might have any legal responsibility in that respect, but where there are no assets there is no recompense.

The long term management of 'un-culled' media storage will always become too vast to cope, so such problems are inevitable in 'the cloud'.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
By HJW (Jun 14, 2012)

I still use the site sometimes, though hate its early 90's looks.
Anyway - the reason of the financial troubles may lie elsewhere, in some patent trolling? The article says "litigation has already cost the company [] tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees..."

By digitalshooter (Jun 14, 2012)

Thank you for posting that link, more info as to the failing website. Now I know for certian I wont be supporting this guy.

They (fotki) never could explain to me why my photos would have hits and views, when they were private and locked down.

So money will be diverted to legal efforts I am sure.

Time to find a new host.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
By trstnbckr (Jun 14, 2012)

wow their site is very... 2002. I wonder why they're having trouble...

Lu Heng
By Lu Heng (Jun 14, 2012)

never knew them. and did not get happier to find out. looks like from, what... from 80th?..

By Tee1up (Jun 14, 2012)

He sounds like a company President that cocked the gun, made a bunch of cash and now is trying to assure his hostages they were never in any danger. Run people!

By ScottieC (Jun 14, 2012)

Wow I used to have a Fotki account a while ago, they were not bad at all, I just got hooked on Flickr, smugmug and 500px.

Comment edited 17 seconds after posting
1 upvote
DotCom Editor
By DotCom Editor (Jun 14, 2012)

Technical prowess and business acumen are often mutually exclusive.

Richard Murdey
By Richard Murdey (Jun 14, 2012)

Killed by Instagram. Ooh, burn...

Richard Murdey
By Richard Murdey (Jun 14, 2012)

It's true of any photo gallery/hosting service on the web today: Nothing stopping them from pulling the plug, and no guarantee that any of them will be around in five years.

It's a transient, useful service, but no one should come to count on it as a "permanent" archive.

Andrei Todea
By Andrei Todea (Jun 14, 2012)

I wonder who designed their website!

By stan_pustylnik (Jun 14, 2012)

I hope that it is not new trend...

By VivaLasVegas (Jun 13, 2012)

iCloud + apple products = unbeatable

Fotki, move on, don't waste precious $$$. Find another niche to cater to.

By digitalshooter (Jun 13, 2012)

Unfortunately, this is not the total story. WHat is failed to be mentioned here is the fact that MANY of us have PREPAID and bought years of service, membership fees for "Gold Premium" accounts for FTP usage and FREE UNLIMITED storage.

We were not offered, good geture refunds, because as fotki will tell you, they dont have too!

Having already prepaid like many others, there are far too many FREE accounts that need to be addressed instead of going after the payers using the "unlimited" contracted amount of space.

Todd Taylor
By Todd Taylor (Jun 14, 2012)

I agree. The reason I've stuck with Fotki so long is that my pre-paid membership came with unlimited storage for a fixed fee. Changing the service level for a service I already paid for seems shady.

Glen Barrington
By Glen Barrington (Jun 13, 2012)

A slow death is terrible, but an anonymous slow death is terrible!

1 upvote
By D1N0 (Jun 13, 2012)

Never heard of them. But photosites come and go. I used to use photothing, but that went bad, and Vazaar, and that stopped. It's a changing market. You have to change with it or you die.

Using the cloud as single back-up for your files is just plain stupid.

1 upvote
By peevee1 (Jun 14, 2012)

Using any cloud service a anything but a secondary backup is a direct way to an epic failure.

By BryMills (Jun 13, 2012)

I have to be honest and say I'd never even heard of them prior to all this kicking off!

Comment edited 15 seconds after posting
By Pr0peller (Jun 14, 2012)

So why do you waste our time sharing your ignorance? Bummer why do I even write this?

Russell McMahon
By Russell McMahon (Jun 14, 2012)

I paid for 10 years about 18 minths ago. I have about 100 GB on the site :-).
I have copies of it all (of course) but it's a great way to access material.
Or was.
They were always very slow to make what seemed like obvious improvements, I have suggested a number over the years but few get actioned even when they would have made the site more ike superior look+ feel competitors (non patent aspects I think). But for me it was manifestly good value for money. At a minimum I hope they allow me to use my preaid $ to offset new storage costs - altrhough that seems morally and legally wrong on their part I understand their predicament. Taking my prepaid $ for no return would be worse.
I think a service running on my own server looks the way to go, with the cost of bandwodth becoming very low. The actual hard disk cost of 100 GB costs about $10 at retail rates .

By digitalshooter (Jun 18, 2012)

I agree, when they practically doubled the cost of prints I told them this was a bad idea. They were always slow to respond for service, and have returned to that way now. I have dropped mine from 130 gigs to about 34 gigs, which will soon be lower.

There were other ways to accomplish this, I think they just wanted to switch to a "cloud" service and took advantage of us.

But they are the ones that will have to live with themselves!

Total comments: 34