Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Cost of Blogging

First off, I'd like to say that Google, which has been hosting my blog for the last year and a half through Blogger, has been a fairly reasonable silent partner in this enterprise. The company maintains a good product, although it is perhaps not quite as good as it thinks it is. There are some irksome technical features to deal with, but overall I have been able to create a niche blog that is pretty much off the beaten path. Anyway, I doubt there is a better blogging platform out there. Of course, since inception there has been absolutely no editorial interference and there also has been no charge even though Blogger has received no advertising revenue from my blogging efforts. In the meantime I have slowly expanded the visual if not the intellectual content of the blog and I find myself using far more of my screenshots and personal photographs than I used to. At least this was the state of affairs on Monday evening when I attempted to upload some new images and I received this dreaded notice:

Look, 1 GB is simply not a lot of storage for images today. My camera's memory card alone is now 4 GB. My iPad Mini has 64 GB of flash memory, but that's only because the 16 and 32 GB models were sold out at the Apple store. I have used only 2.1 of my 10 GB of free storage on Gmail since early 2006, and I could probably keep going another quarter century at this rate without a problem. Google is fairly generous with its free email allotment, but it can afford to be because almost no one needs anywhere near 10 GB worth of email storage. By comparison, 1 GB of free storage for Picasa Web Albums means that nearly every serious user of the product is going to bump up against the limit sooner or later. Storage space is not transferrable among Google products, so your lifetime supply of email storage, for example, can't be used to store photos for a blog, not even if your blog is dedicated to making the world a groovier place.

Now, to be fair, $2.49 per month for up to 25 GB of image storage is fairly reasonable, but it's a subscription rate and I'm not convinced you are purchasing storage at all. Rather than purchasing storage outright, you are buying the ability month by month to keep uploading images up to your 25 GB total. Once you reach 25 GB, as I would in maybe a couple of decades at the current rate, you need to purchase the 100 GB monthly subscription. You can stop subscribing at any time and this will not affect the images you have already uploaded and stored, which is why I believe calling this a storage fee is something of a misnomer. You are actually paying for the privilege of uploading images up to a predetermined quota, which sounds much more like paying for bandwidth, with a surcharge for large amounts of data previously uploaded and stored. The typical user of the 25 GB plan is probably nowhere near the upper limit. My uninformed guess would be that the average blog user has maybe 2 GB in image storage, although this might be much higher for those storing family photos.

Along with the subscription plan, Gmail storage gets automatically upgraded from the 10 GB you likely will never need to 25 GB you almost certainly will never need. That's a relief, albeit one you don't need.

So, after eighteen months, the cost of blogging has gone up to $2.49 a month, or almost $30 annually. In truth, I spend far more than that buying cool things I come across while researching potential blog posts. For me, though, the true cost of blogging always has been the inordinate amount of time I end up crafting each new post and subtly revising older ones in the hope that they will look spontaneous and effortless.

There is one more cost to be reckoned with, and that is the ultimate impermanence of the medium. I don't suppose anyone knows what will become of inactive blog accounts over the long term. How long will a blog like this one be allowed to remain online taking up precious storage after the monthly fees stop being paid and it becomes inactive? Google has gone to great lengths to create a vast searchable database of rare books. Will it show the same concern for obscure and obsolete blogs? I recall the sad fate of Geocities, and I wonder...

March 21, 2013 Update:  I am no longer paying Google for storage, if only temporarily. I have been regularly deleting photos I no longer need, with the result that my total storage has gone down to 0.35 GB. So after three months of paying $2.49/month, I am now taking a free ride again. Of course, when it comes time for me to once again buy monthly storage, the price may be more than $2.49/month, even though the cost of storage has generally been coming down. Also, Google now says my photos are stored in Google+, even though I so far have resisted every effort of theirs to compel me to join this.



  1. Hi there - you might find this post I did helpful link

    You will see that as long as you resize your photos to be less than 600 pixels wide they don't count towards the limit.

    1. Thanks, Carole. It's a deliberate decision on my part to do just the opposite. For my 8 cents a day, I'm going for the biggest, brashest, sharpest, highest-resolution images I can get my hands on!

  2. I wish I could assign my unused storage space to you,

    1. Nice sentiment, Sous, and I appreciate it, but it looks as if I alone have to pay for my excesses.