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Flickr gives you one more month to download your photos before deletion

The 1,000-photo limit still stands, but site owner SmugMug won't delete your photos yet if you're having trouble fetching them now.

Photo-sharing site Flickr has billions of images, but it's begun restricting free accounts to 1,000 shots.

Photo sharing site Flickr has billions of images, but it's begun restricting free accounts to 1,000 shots.

Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Flickr is giving you another month to download your photos if you don't want to pay $50 a year for a pro subscription to the photo-sharing site.

Three months ago, Flickr's new owners, SmugMug, announced a 1,000-photo limit for free usage. If you had more than that at the site, you had a Feb. 5 deadline to retrieve the photos. But some Flickr users had download trouble, so Flickr has granted more leeway.

"Based on feedback from our members and complications some members experienced when downloading photos yesterday, we've extended our deletion eligibility deadline until March 12, 2019," Flickr said in a statement.

The extension shows the difficulties of making big changes at an enormous online site. Flickr has tens of billions of photos, but many are from mainstream users attracted by Flickr's old free-terabyte policy and not the photo enthusiasts Flickr wants as its core user base now.

Flickr tried to prepare people for the change. "Since announcing these updates on Nov. 1, Flickr's goal has been to ensure that members have ample time to make an informed decision as to how they can best continue to protect and enjoy their photos on Flickr," the company said. Its top priority was telling users about the possibility of photo deletion, and Flickr among other things sent hundreds of millions of emails announcing the changes.

Flickr users can download their photos from the site, though they have to do so manually and wait for Flickr servers to deliver them their shots in 500-photo batches. Not everybody was ready when crunch time arrived on Tuesday.

"Because so many people are having trouble downloading (such as getting an error) their photos and/or videos, we ask that you extend the deadline of when those with free accounts of more than 1,000 photos/videos need to download before," one commenter on Flickr's forum requested.

Shift to subscriptions

After Verizon sold Flickr out of its Yahoo family of brands, SmugMug made a sharp turn toward a subscription business last year. The move is designed to restore the site's status as a great spot for photo enthusiasts while ensuring it pulls in enough money to pay the bills, Chief Executive Don MacAskill has said.

You can check our instructions on downloading Flickr photos if you need to figure out how. In brief, though, you have to use Flickr's camera roll interface to select the photos you want to download in batches of up to 500. Flickr then compresses the files and sends you download links over its Flickr Mail messaging system.

The move away from Flickr's former free terabyte of storage and toward subscriptions is aggressive -- but also in tune with some modern thinking. Ad-supported sites can be free, but SmugMug management didn't like the privacy tradeoff that comes with a lot of online ads, not to mention the amount that ads intrude on the experience of browsing through photos.

Several web browsers are moving to crack down on online behavior tracking, and people are becoming more aware of privacy erosion after problems like Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal.

SmugMug didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Flickr pro costs $50 a year

Flickr pro accounts cost $50 per year, a fee SmugMug promises will go toward running the site, showing higher-resolution shots, cutting out spam, getting rid of the Yahoo login system and making other improvements.

Flickr announced three months ago it'd delete the photos after Feb. 5. If you haven't done so yet, you can pay $50 and give yourself a year's breathing room.

Flickr, founded in 2004, grew in popularity as a hub for photography enthusiasts who could share their daily lives through its "photostream" and join groups devoted to things like animal photography or "lomography" photos taken with the Russian Lomo film camera.

Yahoo acquired Flickr in 2005 but struggled to keep it relevant as people moved to social-savvy services like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.

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