Earlier this month, Brent from Strictly Average found the end of the internet. Well, technically, he simply ran out of space on his blogspot account, but to a blogger, that’s roughly equivalent to reaching the end of their own personal internet.
What really happened is that he exceeded the total space available for his free account, and could no longer upload pictures to his site. It’s a real problem that could happen to anyone who has a blog, so it’s something you’ll need to address eventually: and it’s better to address it now than to wait until it bites you.
Since the question of how to prevent this also cropped up on Bsmoov’s “A Gentleman’s Ones,” and other people might be wondering the same thing, I thought perhaps I could shed a little light on the subject. So, the goal of this post is to raise awareness, and try to help my fellow bloggers avoid the potential pitfalls before they grind your blog to a standstill (which is really a misnomer, but it does lend a little immediacy to the topic, doesn’t it?)
How much space can my blog handle?
Well, that all depends upon which blogging software you’ve chosen to use. For most 40k bloggers, Blogspot by Google is the prefered solution because it’s quick and easy to implement, though some of us have chosen a different platform like WordPress.org (or in my case, WordPress.com, but more on that later). Since Blogger/Blogspot (used interchangably) and WordPress are the more popular solutions, I’ll speak a little about both of those.
As the more popular of the two options, we’ll start with Blogger. The limitations of a blogger account are posted on Google’s website, here. For those of you who don’t want to take the leap, I’ll summarize:
Technically speaking, your blogspot account has an unlimited amount of space for posts, comments, pages, etc. There are some exceptions, but in general, you can have an infinite amount of text in your blog. This is really because text takes up almost no storage space. What really eats up space are pictures, movies, and music. Those media files are the culprits behind all space consumption. And while you can have an unlimited amount of text on your blogger account, Google limits you to only 1GB of total storage in the form of pictures, which is shared with your Picasa account. This means that you essentially are limited to 1GB of space for your blog (or even less if you use Picasa to store personal photos as well).
In contrast, the lesser used Wordpress.org offers users 3GB of total space. This includes both media, as well as text. So while it seems like three times as much space, it’s really somewhere between 2-3 times as much space for the average user (and infinitely less space for those who never use pictures).
If you’ve chosen to go the more complex route, and host your blog yourself through wordpress.org, or another blogging platform, well then, the sky’s the limit. At this point, you’re not hard capped by the platform, but only by the settings in your hosting platform. The downside here is that it’s going to cost you (unless you somehow already have a webserver available to you), and certainly requires an amount of technical know-how, so this isn’t the best option for everyone. If, however, you can overcome these hurdles, you’ll also have a much more customizable blog…
Preventing the Problem:
Well, the best way to remedy the issue of space is to prevent the problem from ever materializing. Since most space on a blog is eaten up by media files (particularly images), you can be sure to compress your images before uploading them to the internet. Compressing (or resizing) images reduces the image quality, but does not necessarily reduce the clarity when viewed in a webpage, nor does it shrink the physical dimensions of the picture.
Compressing images isn’t even hard to do, nor is it expensive. In fact, there are many free options available. A few can be found below:
- Web Resizer (a web based tool for compressing images)
- Resizr (another web-based program. I haven’t used this, but it also will compress entire web pages)
- TweakUI Image Resizer Powertoy from Microsoft for XP (Windows 7 users try this link). I love this tool because you can just select a series of photos on your computer and resize them all to one of several different preset sizes–ideal for displaying on a computer. This is my personal favorite.
Another option you have to reduce the amount of space images take up on your site is simply not to host them. You can instead choose to link directly to images on other people’s sites. This will result in less space/bandwidth utilization for your site (but more for the people you link from). In general, this is seen as bad form on the internet though, and isn’t advised.
Besides being annoying to the host, two problems can arise from using this method on your own site. The first occurs when you try to link to an image and the original host prevents it. When this happens, users who come to your site will see a generic image that usually states something to the effect of “Direct Linking Prohibited by <SITENAME>.” The other happens when the original host removes or renames the content you were linking to, resulting in a broken link on your site. In both of these cases, your site will not show the desired content, so it’s best to refrain from direct linking to other content.
Suggestion by Antipope of the Cadian 122nd: If this is something you’re interested in doing, one site that allows such direct linking is Photobucket. They do provide free hosting for images and direct linking of them to your blog. For the non-technical people, you might find the code a little confusing at first, but here’s a video tutorial from eHow on just how to make it work. Keep in mind that this site is also limited to how much you can store on it.
Of course, if you are instead downloading the material and reposting it on your own site, you need to be careful that you’re not violating the original owner’s copyrights (more information on that subject here). In short, be sure to get the original owner’s approval, and give them proper credit on your site. If not, you could wind up in a world of hurt in the future…
Checking Space Available
For Blogger users, your available photo space is tied to your Picasa account. If you’re wondering how much space you have available there are two ways to check. First, the amount of space used (along with a percentage available) can be seen every time you upload a picture (see the photo to the right). Additionally, since this storage is directly tied to your Picasa web space, you can see (and manage) photos assocated with your blog at Picasa’s Web page.
WordPress.org users are more fortunate, in that they get a total of 3GB of usable space. The caveat here is that everything counts against that space, and not merely photos. Naturally, the largest consumer of space on a blog is photos (or associated media, which is all lumped into one category for wordpress users), so it’s fairly safe to say that WordPress users have at least twice as much space as Blogger users for most practical uses. If you’re currently using WordPress.com and are wondering how much space you have left, check out Craig Eclectic’s blog entry on the topic, which provides step-by-step instructions.
Adding Additional Space
If you run out of space with your Blogger account, you’ll be happy to know more is available just a credit card away. Their fees are fairly reasonable, charging a measly $5 per year for 20GB, and increasing from there. You can purchase additional storage directly on their website (convenient link here). As with Google, WordPress.org users can subscribe for additional storage space. For a list of those fees, check out their site (note that these fees are higher all around than the Picasa options for Google above).
Nip it in the Bud
In summation, if you’re using a free blogging software, you probably have between 1-3GB of space. A simple way to ensure you don’t run out is to throw money at the problem (i.e. buy more space). If you’re looking to do things on the cheap, you’ll want to start conserving space by compressing your images, or hosting them somewhere else.
One last trick for you blogspot users is that if you have too many personal photos eating up your Picasa space, consider moving those to another account (perhaps your spouses?) to allow your blog to grow to the full 1GB available. Hopefully this article helps someone with a question or two.
“The End of the Internet” image by Exploding Dog. Never before have stick figures made me so happy. “Out of Space” image lifted from random non-English blog who didn’t give the original owner proper credit. If this is your work, please let me know and I’ll credit you with it.