How Photobucket Works

Photobucket Accounts
A Photobucket Meez is an avatar -- an animated representation of a Photobucket member.
A Photobucket Meez is an avatar -- an animated representation of a Photobucket member.
(HowStuffWorks screenshot, no credit)

The basic Photobucket account is free of charge and comes with the following:

  • One gigabyte (GB) of storage space
  • The ability to upload videos of up to 5 minutes in length
  • 25 GB of bandwidth each month
  • Access to Adobe Premiere Express for Web-based photo editing
  • The option to create a personal avatar called a Meez
  • Options to transfer digital images to physical products (which you must purchase)

For $39.95 per year, users can upgrade to a Pro account. Pro accounts have all the features of a basic account as well as:

  • 10 GB of storage space
  • The ability to upload 10-minute long videos
  • Unmetered (but not necessarily unlimited) bandwidth
  • File transfer protocol (FTP) upload access
  • The option to upload high resolution images
  • Support for Flash files (.swf files)
  • A 10 percent discount on items from the Photobucket store
  • Premium technical support

Photobucket allows users to create direct links on Web pages to pictures in their accounts. But that means every time someone loads the respective Web page, Photobucket must send the image data to the appropriate server. As more people view the Web page, Photobucket has to send more image data across the Internet. Most Internet service providers (ISPs) charge individuals or companies for heavy use of their networks. That's why Photobucket institutes bandwidth caps -- to reduce the possibility of having to pay fees for its direct links.

Whether you have a basic or a pro account, you can choose to make your account public or private. Anyone can view pictures posted in a public account, which is the default setting on all user accounts. If you have a public account and label a photo with a tag, anyone searching Photobucket for that tag can see your image.

Photobucket gives members the option to share photos through direct links or photo albums.
(HowStuffWorks screenshot, no credit)

­Private accounts are different. Users with a private account can choose who can view the images and videos they've stored. Private account members create a guest password that they can share with trusted friends and family. Whether an account is public or private, the user must still adhere to Photobucket's terms of use. Just because an account is private doesn't mean the account holder can upload photos prohibited for public accounts.

If you decide you no longer want your Photobucket account, you can cancel it. Free account holders can cancel an account through their account options on their profile page. Users must enter a reason for deleting the account and include a security code to prevent fraudulent deletions. After 48 hours, Photobucket deletes the account and all the media stored there -- there are no backups, so it's important to save all media locally.

Pro account holders have to contact the Photobucket support team in order to cancel an account. Only by contacting the team can a user ensure that Photobucket doesn't automatically bill the user.

Next, we'll take a look at how Photobucket turns a profit.