Consumers can be stuck when websites change terms

Cook said Kodak is still adding value for consumers: This month, it began offering free shipping for people buying at least $5 worth of pictures in most sizes, as an added incentive to purchase more prints.

Other photo sites, including Google's Picasa, Fotki, Yahoo's Flickr, News Corp.'s Photobucket and Adobe Systems's, still offer free services that let people share photos with others, although there are storage limits. You can buy additional storage or upgrade to a paid account for unlimited uploads.

Even more generous options are available at Shutterfly Inc., which offers free, unlimited photo storage, and on social-networking sites such as Facebook, which doesn't have a limit.

But it's not unusual for photo-sharing sites to start out free and then require payment, such as a now-defunct service from Sony Corp., said Terry Sullivan, associate editor of digital imaging at Consumer Reports magazine.

Sony closed ImageStation in 2008 to focus on its core business, nearly eight years after launching the photo-sharing site. Sony said it has destroyed all images left on its servers.

Time Warner Inc.'s AOL ended its photo-storage site in January to cut costs. It transferred images to American Greetings Corp.'s PhotoWorks, which requires an annual purchase or else photos will be deleted.

Given all the varying policies, it's best to back up your pictures on your own computer. That should greatly reduce the chance you'll lose something irreplaceable.

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