Top Specialized Hosting Alternatives to Google

In the first part we looked at general purpose hosting. In this second part we are looking at specialized hosting, not so much as an alternative to GooglePages (as I strongly doubt that it has ever been used for video or audio), but for the sake of completion.

For at least some of these files, where fast loading is important, you might want to look into purchasing Amazon hosting, which is fast and you pay strictly on the transfer bandwidth consumed. Otherwise, free services might make sense, but keep in mind that free hosts have limits on bandwidth and may sometimes become overwhelmed and slow down loading. Internet Archive is also a service worth using for original content creators. The following is mostly a quick overview, rather than an exhaustive roundup.

 

1. Images

Picasa Web logo Google offers Google Photos (picasaweb) for image hosting. It has a storage limit of 1GB and also accepts videos. Its greatest plus is the tight integration with the excellent Picasa image editor, which is available free of charge. Though Google Photos should be sufficient for anyone, some of their upgrade options don’t make sense. For $20/year you can get 10 GB to be shared between Gmail and Photos, but Gmail is already almost 8 GB and Picasaweb 1GB, so you would be getting 1 extra GB for $20/year Cow  Although sites like SmugMug offer excellent features, we will not be considering them because they do not have a free offer.

flickr logo probably has the most loyal and lively community. It does not impose limits on photos or videos uploaded, but if you have more than 200 or 400, you are expected to pay around $20-30 / year. If you don’t pay, you can still use the service, but the older media will be more difficult to access.

pictiger logo - simple and easy to use interface

twitpic logo  - created for twitter, can be used for other purposes as well

photobucket logo - widely used by webmasters, good features; free accounts limited to 1MB file size and max res 1024 x 768, 10 GB monthly transfer and 1 GB storage limit; can host videos

pict.com logo  - many formats, multiple upload, file size limited to 3.5 MB

tinypic logo - photo and video sharing, simple interface

iimmgg logo  - good online editor

Free Image Hosting logo  - no registration required (but possible), running entirely on linux'; simple but functional interface; max file 3 MB; jpg, png or gif

imgur logo  - simple image sharer

shutterfly logo - photo sharing, cheap prints

ImageShack logo  - 100 MB/h bandwidth limit, can upload by email or from mobile, max file 1.5 MB – also powers imgPlace

imageVenue logo - 1.5 MB, unlimited storage, only jpg, 10 multiple upload

IMGFREEHOST.COM logo  - allows jpg,tif,bmp,jpeg,gif,png,swf,tiff to a max of 292.96 KB; may be deleted after 60 days

imageCave logo  - jpg, gif, bmp, png – 1 GB/month, 150 MB/day transfer, 10 MB storage

myNETimages logo  - gallery hosting

 

Photo Sharing

The following sites are geared more toward sharing photos, rather than simple image hosting

webshots logo  - upload and share 1000 photos + 100 more each month or 100 videos + 10 more each month with free account; only 5 “pro” shots per day.

snapfish logo  - also offers unlimited storage, though may be difficult hotlinking – acquired by HP

Costco Photo – if you’re a member, you can store unlimited albums online as long as you order prints every now and then

 

2. Video

YouTube logo rules the roost, but it has a 10 minutes limit of videos for non-advertisers. Despite its significant efforts to license rights from various media conglomerates, some users still complain of censorship and poor customer service, so it’s worth looking at alternatives. To effectively compete with YouTube, the challengers have to provide more generous limits and try to build communities and audiences as compelling as or hopefully more so than YouTube.

 

veoh logo  - the favourite of many professionals, 1GB size limit, multiple formats and an excellent player, though it needs to be downloaded and installed.

vimeo logo  - a close competitor for the top spot, having pioneered HD long before YouTube adopted it as well; original content, very relaxed limits and you can login with your Facebook credentials

dailymotion logo  – a French creation, it has a 20 minute and 150 MB limit. If you register as a “Motionmaker” – i.e., you produce original content – the 20 minute limit is removed. Users complain that the site censors are too trigger-happy, often causing original content to be banned for “infringement”.

blip.tv logo  - a podcaster favourite for its excellent video channel creation & embedding tools. Though the player is SD only, HD video is offered as a downloadable option. You can place ads on the video and be paid half the generated revenue. Heavy syndication results in eyeball snowball (sic) effect

revver logo  – no time limit, no censorship and you can make money off your videos. The revenue is shared even with those who help spread your video.

Y!video logo  – 150 MB limit and a large audience

Myspace or Facebook – while they are known mostly for social networking, they do offer some pretty good features for video hosting, though nowhere near as good as specialized services. Their currency is their fanatical communities.

metacafe logo – videos are reviewed and rated to a greater by the community extent than elsewhere; player SD only and maximum size is 100 MB.

openfilm logo – new site dedicated to the amateur video producer, with a revenue sharing options and HD player.

virb logo – allows video, music or photo with the following weekly limits: 50 photos, 5 videos, 1 track per day to 5 per week

megavideo logo - 500 MB maximum file size

uStream.tv logo – excellent broadcasting features

zeec.de logo  – a German Youtube with an interface similar to Last.fm; allows direct recording from webcam

vume logo  – has a good revenue sharing program based on ads attached to your videos based on the number of viewers

clipshack logo  – Simple interface but a videophiles community.

GoFish logo  – The moniker is addressed to “unprofessionals”, as the site specifically targets original content producers who want to showcase their creations.

imeem logo – no size limits and audio sharing as well.

break.com logo  – original humorous videos selected by staff – they might pay for your video.

VUclip - targets mobile phones, formerly blueapple.mobi

atom logo  - MTV owned newcomer devoted to “web comedy”.

crackle logo  - (formerly grouper) Sony’ talent scouring outfit.

flukiest - logo  - another community targeting creators

flurl logo  - streamlined uploading, separate adult section

image  - another German site with an English interface available

LiveVideo logo  - Hit or Miss rating, direct cam recording

myubo logo  - excellent mobile features – English, Czech, Deutsch & Slovak

selfcasttv logo  - basic service allowing adult content, allows for direct mobile uploads in Europe.

spike logo  - part of Viacom network

soapbox logo  - part of MSN

uvouch logo   - allows direct importing from other sites (YT, dailymotion, grouper, etc.), has widgets for webmasters and a rating system where you can vouch for other videos

viddler logo  - simple interface, direct recording from webcam, search within video

vidilife logo  - simple interface, unlimited uploads

zoopy logo - South Africa’s first Big Grin – 200 MB per upload

CreativeCow logo  - great community of creatives

image  - “exposure & opportunity for talent”

a) Evolved

VideoEgg is now a “rich media advertising network”

JayCut allows online movie editing and recently embedding

http://vzaar.com/ – aims to stream videos on eBay product pages; while browsing their site I could not find a reason why they would be better than any other video streaming solution, including YouTube

b) Competition

Our friends at Mashable (competitive) created this round-up of sites where you video can fight others. Apart from Break.com and Crackle, already listed above, there are:

bix logo
battle of 2 videos
TubeBattle logo
community-driven voting system
vmix logo
more of a  distribution platform
RATE MY DANCE MOVES

nucleus CMS driven blog

DareJunkies logo
Google Video hosted (closed)
votigo logo
helps you go viral

c) R.I.P.

After the YouTube craze faded and everybody realized that it’s hard to make money, many went belly-up or completely discontinued their free offers.

image  Online video editing tool with Remix feature allowed you to reuse others’ videos – you would’ve loved it, together with Prof. Lessig Dancing - if it hadn’t been closed June 15 by Yahoo! due to “prioritizing”

brightcove logo – takes traditional TV as a model. You get to create an Internet TV station, scheduling time of airing and syndicating your show. Seems to have gone completely commercial, with a 30 day trial offer.

tubearoo logo  - mobile video service with adult options – poor SafeSearch filtering – DEAD

LiveDigital logo  - allows also photos and audio uploads with good social networking features – DOES NOT LOAD

FlickLife logo  - revenue sharing site – seems to have gone completely pornographic (“amateurs only!”) – PORN

Stage6  - focused only on DivX videos - DivX is not an open or free format, unlike its cousin, xvid. It is, otherwise, a great platform, boasting widespread adoption on consumer devices. – DISCONTINUED

uberme logo  - high hopes, contains uberwap – a personal mobile portal – not loading

zippyVideos logo  - unlimited uploads, each less than 20 MB – blocked on my network for pornography

ziddio.com, gochongo.com

 

3. Audio

We feel that while mp3 is the most popular format, there will be a lot of demand for wma (Windows Media Audio) as that is that format most Windows users will use. The following services allow upload of *.wma, *.mp3 and sometimes even *.ogg (Theora) files and no registration is required (ah): imdo, mbd, msfh, plndr, supld, su, 2f, ys.

 

4. Only for Blogger scripts

If your only need for hosting is for placing your Blogger-template-included scripts, you have some further possibilities.

A) Google might be already hosting it

Google is hosting some major libraries, such as Prototype or jQuery. They can be loaded in blogs using Google’s AJAX Libraries API in the <head> section:

<script src='http://www.google.com/jsapi'/>
<script>
google.load("library if available", "version");
</script>

There is even a list of available libraries (google-libs).

B) Embed the script in Blogger

While hosting the script on an external site keeps your template simpler and more manageable, it has the potential to increase the page loading time and increases the overall complexity of your site. Furthermore, the desire for simplicity and not having to deal with a webhost with one more bill to pay is what has attracted so many people to Blogger in the first place.

a) Add the script to the Blogger template

To embed the script into your main template, look for the statement of inclusion:

<script src='file-url' type='text/javascript'></script>

and replace it with the following:

<script type='text/javascript'>
//<![CDATA[
SCRIPT_CONTENT
//]]>
</script>

SCRIPT_CONTENT” refers to whatever is inside the javascript file – just copy & paste.

b) Add the script as a gadget (gadgetize it)

One reason you might be reluctant to embed the script is that it makes the template too big and you get lost in it. You can keep it modular and clean by adding the script in a widget, using “HTML/Javascript”. You may create a new gadget (“Add new gadget”), or, if you have already an HTML/Javascript gadget, you may add it there, at the end.

If you would rather create the gadget by editing the template directly, you may follow this arcane procedure (qr-js):

Create a new Blogger gadget section adding the following code after <body>:

<b:section class='scripts-container' id='scripts-container' />

From Dashboard, in the ‘Elements Page,’ you will see a new section above the template layout. You can add a “HTML/JavaScript” gadget from there, with something like this:

<script type='text/javascript'>
SCRIPT_CONTENT
</script>

You must avoid adding titles to these gadgets; however, if your’re going to add several scripts in different gadgets, you might… after adding this line before </b:skin>:

.scripts-container .widget h2 {display: none; visibility: hidden;}

Also, it seems Blogger interprets all “<” and “>” appearing in the scripts not as expected. To solve this, look for these symbols and add a space before and after each of them. Here’s an example:

Before: for(var i=0;i<a_rc;i++) {
After: for(var i=0;i < a_rc;i++) {

c) Use Google Code!

If you are the author of a script and would like to crowdsource it, consider hosting it on Google Code. For instance, SyntaxHighlither or Prettify allow bloggers to display code nicely on their blogs and the scripts are there available for every one (there is also a WLW plugin, code snippet). Obviously, some of the scripts need to be downloaded first, but some get to be hosted by Google.

This article is work in progress and will be expanded at a later date (or maybe never I dont know)! Have I left anything out? Is there anything to add? Let me know!

Sources / More info: google-libs, qr-js, ah, 7yt-alt, t10-best, some-good, competitive, roundup-7, top-31, y-answers-yt, yt-sucks, kareltests, 7-image, about-photo-hosting, best-free, free-image-hosting, amazon-coding-horror

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