FAQ: What to do with your Yahoo photos

Yahoo Photos will begin shutting down on September 20. What should you do if you have pictures there?

It's time to find a new home for the more than 2 billion pictures stored on Yahoo Photos.

Even though the Internet company just refurbished Yahoo Photos with a glitzy new interface, it's shutting down the site beginning September 20.

The move shouldn't come as a surprise, given Yahoo's 2005 acquisition of photo-sharing powerhouse Flickr. But it does mean that millions of members will have to take action in the coming months if they want to preserve the pictures stored at the site--and that means things could get complicated.

Yahoo just fired up tools to let customers move their photos elsewhere, and CNET News.com has compiled some questions and answers to help users of Yahoo Photos understand the situation and make the right choices.

Why is Yahoo Photos shutting down?
Flickr, not Yahoo Photos, is where all the Web 2.0 action is. Where Yahoo Photos was largely a repository for printing and sharing photos, Flickr's roots and attraction lie in more dynamic social activities--for example, commenting on pictures or joining with like-minded photographers into groups focusing on topics such as missing persons, high dynamic range photos or mating insects.

"People are changing the way they use photography, and we have decided to shift our focus accordingly," the company said in a statement Thursday. "Photography is quickly evolving from its original purpose as a means to preserve memories into a social activity that allows people to communicate and connect."

What should I do to preserve my photos?
: Shutterfly, Hewlett-Packard's Snapfish, Kodak's EasyShare Gallery and Fox Interactive Media's Photobucket. In addition, Yahoo has signed up with Englaze to burn photos onto CDs for $6.99 per disc, not including shipping. If you don't have other backup, that's probably not a bad idea, regardless of what else you do with your photos.

If you don't already have copies on your own computer, you can download your photos one at a time, but Yahoo has no option for doing so in one fell swoop..

Which site should I pick?
It depends on your needs. Kodak Gallery, Shutterfly and Snapfish are geared toward printing photos, so those services should look more familiar to Yahoo Photos users. Photobucket is widely used for hosting images that appear on blogs and sites such as Facebook or MySpace.com. Flickr's raison d'etre is photo sharing and social networking, but it offers traditional print services as well.

Are these sites offering incentives to join?
Yes. Yahoo estimates that more than 2 billion photos are stored at Yahoo Photos, so it's no surprise other sites want to grab as much of the spoils as they can.

Shutterfly offers a free 8x8-inch photo book to Yahoo Photos members making the switch. Kodak Gallery offers 20 free 4x6-inch prints to those who join. Snapfish offers 50 free 4x6-inch prints. Flickr offers three months of free "pro" status, which offers consumers some perks beyond the regular free accounts and that costs $25 per year. Yahoo members who have Verizon and AT&T broadband subscriptions will get free pro accounts for as long as they subscribe.

Yahoo may not like Google much, but I do. Can I move my photos to Picasa?
If you're keen on Picasa, Zooomr, Webshots--which is owned by CNET Networks, publisher of CNET News.com--or photo sites elsewhere, you'll have to upload your photos yourself. For the automated migration, Yahoo selected Shutterfly, Snapfish, Photobucket, Flickr and Kodak Gallery "as the best fit for our users" after "evaluating user and industry research."

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