Thursday, February 3, 2011

Yahoo Accidentally Deletes 4000 Photos, Restores Them and Offers 25 Years Free Subscription

shockedFlickr had one of their biggest oops! moment in history when an employee accidentally deleted a user’s account with 4000 photos and 5 year’s worth of toil.

Flickr user Mirco Wilhelm was dismayed when a Flickr representative told him matter-of-factly that they had they had accidentally wiped his entire account thinking it to be of someone else.

Unfortunately, I have mixed up the accounts and accidentally deleted yours. I am terribly sorry for this grave error and hope that this mistake can be reconciled. Here is what I can do from here:

I can restore your account, although we will not be able to retrieve your photos. I know that there is a lot of history on your account-again, please accept my apology for my negligence. Once I restore your account, I will add four years of free Pro to make up for my error.

At $24.95 per year for a Pro account, Flickr was essentially offering Wilhelm just short of $100 which wasn’t much compensation. Wilhelm was understandably miffed.

How can this really compensate losing close to 4,000 "linked" pictures from my Web albums? I have to recreate most of these links manually, which will take weeks, if not months, of my free time! Not to mention, external Web sites that had linked these images (including some official Yahoo! and Flickr blogs).

In my day job I actually work as an IT architect. I do designs on complex infrastructures, delivery processes, and related stuff. Going from an active account to a deleted account is pretty much a NO-GO in any enterprise environment, because of these consequences. If you do something wrong your can't undo it again, without recreating every single setting from scratch.

That's why it's VERY common to first "DEACTIVATE" accounts and repeat an evaluation...

Since Flickr had deleted the account an(d) all the related object(s), they cannot reactivate anything more that the account itself, leaving me with an empty shell of what I did during the last 5 years.

After a period of two days, Flickr did manage to restore nearly all of Mr Wilhelm’s deleted photos including comments, and tags and as compensation have extended his subscription through 2036.

Mr Wilhelm was fortunate enough to get his account back, thanks to the publicity he was able to generate through the ever vigilant blogosphere so much that it became a bad PR issue for Yahoo. That makes me wonder what would have happened if he did not create a ruckus about it. But the even larger question is should we trust the cloud with our data? I, for one, was never in favor of this cloud thing. It’s always safe to have an offline backup that you can get your hands to at anytime.

But if you must, make sure you have back ups at more than one places.

Here are some Flickr backup services that you might want to consider.

Migratr is a desktop application which moves photos between popular photo sharing services. Migratr will also migrate your metadata, including the titles, tags, descriptions and album organization. Supported services include Flickr, Picasa, Phanfare, Photobucket, Zoomr, and more.

Backupify is an online backup service that allows you to backup data from the following supported web applications: Gmail, Twitter, Google Docs, Flickr, Facebook, Photobucket, and more. Free accounts offer you 2GB of storage space.

For bulk downloading Flickr photos to your hard disk, you can use Flickredit.

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