Migrating 21k Pictures and Videos from Flickr to Picasa

Finished. I’m finally finished.

It took a total of 243 hours of downloading (42 hours) and uploading (201 hours) to complete the entire process. Insanity.

I honestly hope no one has to ever do this (or at least to this scale).

But, if you happen to find yourself in a place where you’re going to do the switch, here’s one way of doing it that’s been 100% successful.

Of course, results (and time required) will vary since much of this is based on your availability, your uptime with your internet provider, and your speed (up/down).

And, if they don’t shut you down or throttle your bandwidth…

For a sake of comparison and full disclosure, here’s what SpeedTest.net rated my ISP and connection speed.

I will also add that I was not directly connected to the internet ever (ethernet) and went wireless the whole time. Although these numbers may seem impressive it hardly sustained this throughout the week and some change.

Finally, after the walk through you’ll find my justification of abandoning Flickr and moving to Picasa, despite having a good deal left on the paid Pro account.

I’d imagine that this will interest a number of my readers, so it’s at the end folks.

Ready? Set? Go.

1. Make Flickr Sets

The first thing you’ll need to know is that software that I used requires that your pictures be in sets in Flickr.

This isn’t a hard thing to do and luckily I had ordered about 99% of my pictures in sets already. For the images that were “floating” I just created a random set called “Z” and threw them all in there.

Do this first before you do anything else!

2. Privacy and Permissions

You’re going to want to make sure that the application that I used (PhotoGrabbr – See below) has access to your images. Make sure your Privacy and Permissions Settings are the following in your Flickr Account:

3. Download PhotoGrabbr

There have been a number of applications that are out there including one that apparently could help migrate directly from Flickr to Picasa (Migratr) but that application required that you give it your username and password (I wasn’t comfortable with that) and it broke on install (made me feel even more anxious about it).

Instead, I found and used PhotoGrabbr, which is a miracle app. I downloaded it and it worked like a charm:

A few things to remember when you use this, the first being that your “username” is not the same thing as your web address name.

This was somewhat confusing at first:

The second being that downloading files sometimes “time outs” due to overuse of the API (according to them). I found that the “Download All Photos” broke a lot. What I did, especially since I had 21,000+ images and media was to check off 3-5 sets at a time and just hit “Download”.

You’ll want to make a note of each set, how many images are in each, and then confirm after completion that you did, in fact, download every image.

If the download does “break” on you you’ll have to delete the folder (Set) and re-attempt the download or you’ll get duplicate files (it’ll add a “-1” to the copy). I had to do this a number of times.

Finally, PhotoGrabbr downloads ONLY IMAGES and NOT VIDEO. What it’ll do is download a “screencap” of the video and not the video itself. This is probably the only drawback and if you’ve got a lot of videos this can be significant.

4. Begin Downloading!

This is the fun (or exceptionally boring) part. Begin downloading. Make sure to confirm downloads and make note of all videos in your sets that will not be downloaded fully.

Have fun.

5. Download Missing Videos

To download your videos you’re going to have to do this manually. Unfortunately I had exactly 666 videos (I can’t believe that, what a stinky number to have) and this took a lot of manual labor and a strained wrist.

There are two ways in which you could do this, the first being going through each of your sets and visually identifying the “videos” (small play arrow) in your set, opening each up, clicking the embed button and then scrolling to the bottom and hitting download:

Clicking the “Embed” button:

Scrolling down and then finally downloading the darn file:

That’s the first way (or at least what you’d have to do in the second too).

The other way is to sort through the online file manager by

First you’ll have to sort through videos by going in to the online file manager, clicking “More Options,” then “Videos” and then editing them, opening each photo page individually so that you can proceed with the downloading:

This, of course, can help if you have no idea where all your videos are and if they span tons of different sets (like my situation):

Regardless of your situation it’ll be a tedious and time-killing process. Prepare for the suck. Thankfully I was able to download up to 30 at a time and it only took a “few” hours.


6. Download Picasa, Upload Like a Mofo, Pay For More Space

Now, the rest of the process is pretty easy.

Download Picasa from Google, make sure you’ve got enough space (I had to upgrade to 80GB plan) and then wait for the sync:

As you can see, I’ve already used about 77% of my space. I’ll be upgrading to the next plan of 200GB pretty soon.

Make sure you Upload the “Original Size” to get a full version onto your site:

Fun times.

7. Wait and Make Sure It Syncs 100%!

And, of course, for me, this was just a long waiting process (201 hours). The problem with uploading so much media is that the synchronization process wasn’t perfect.

I had to confirm upload for a few folders and double check the media count.

(Time seemed to slow down here and drag on forever. Image from FJTU.)

No software is perfect, so it’s your job to confirm the uploads!

And that’s that.

Why I Moved From Flickr to Picasa

The simple answer to this question is this: My mother.

Fact is that my mom isn’t on Flickr. But, she’s on Picasa. And it’s all about showing my mother pictures and videos of my daughter.

Picasa makes this transfer and sharing easy as pie. She can even download the images into her system and computer and then print it out.


Oh, and Google apparently owns the world. I’ve got so much invested in their products that I might as well have put my stuff there anyway. I needed some more space on my GMAIL account too. Google Apps for Small Business is the shiznittle, BTW.

But, for those interested, here are some additional reasons why Flickr is the bomb (and not in a good way):

  • Flickr has no significant desktop application. What a loss. And no, I don’t consider their “Uploader” a serious desktop application. In fact, it’s nothing compared to Picasa. I mean, Picasa has an amazing desktop application that is dead-simple to use and “mom-proof” as they say. Win.
  • Flickr’s online experience is slow. When you get over about 10,000 images it starts taking more than a few seconds to actually get into the editor and to even view the sets! In fact, on average, it took about 10 seconds to load my junk. I could go to the fridge, crack open a diet-coke and be back before it finishes loading. Sad forever.
  • The layouts and user experience hasn’t really changed. Like, in years. I want more viewing options for goodness sake.
  • The online editor is slow, clunky, and broken. Sad. In fact, I hate it. It’s terrible.
  • The slideshow technology Flickr has sucks. Slow.
  • Can’t freaking download your pictures in batches. This is a serious issue. Why should I have to “hack” or use alternative programs to get my silly pictures down?
  • Quality of HD videos just isn’t cutting it. This might be me, but my Vimeo Pro account kicks the living snot out of Flickr. This isn’t even mentioning the level of customization that Vimeo has and that Flickr doesn’t. Vimeo is worth every penny.
  • The 90-second rule in Flickr is lame. Enough said. (Can’t believe I bought into that crap…)
  • Flickr hasn’t improved their product in years. It’s obvious to anyone with half-a-brain that Yahoo! is going down the drain and they aren’t willing to invest in one of their marquee online products. Picasa, on the other hand, continues to innovate and pump out new features.

But, to be fair, Picasa isn’t perfect either. One of the most serious grievances I have is the fact that you can’t download the movies at all. And, the video quality is the same if not worse.

Oh well, that’s why I have Vimeo (and backups). But, at least my mom can watch the videos.

Love your thoughts, comments, flames, whatever. In the end, the move was a personal one and it should be the same for you. No pressure or dogmatism from this side of the fence; do what you gotta do.

Now, if I just had the time to finish all this facial recognition stuff…

*sigh* It never ends.

[Image from Cindy]