The annual exercise of adding up my business expenses so I can plug those totals into my taxes gave me an excuse to do an extra and overdue round of math: calculating how much I spend a year on various Web services to do my job.
The result turned out to be higher than I thought–even though I left out such non-interactive services as this domain-name registration ($25 for two years) and having it mapped to this blog ($13 a year). But in looking over these costs, I’m also not sure I could do much about them.
Yes, I pay Google for my e-mail–the work account hosted there overran its 15 gigabytes of free storage a few years ago. I now pay $19.99 a year for 100 GB. That’s a reasonable price, especially compared to the $1.99 monthly rate I was first offered, and that I took too long to drop in favor of the newer, cheaper yearly plan.
Microsoft Office 365
Getting a Windows laptop let me to opting for Microsoft’s cloud-storage service, mainly as a cheap backup and synchronization option. The $69.99 annual cost also lets me put Microsoft Office on one computer, but I’ve been using the free, open-source LibreOffice suite for so long, I have yet to install Office on my HP. Oops.
This is my second-longest-running subscription–I’ve been paying for the premium version of my note-taking app since 2015. Over that time, the cost has increased from $45 to $69.99. That’s made me think about dropping this and switching to Microsoft’s OneNote. But even though Microsoft owns LinkedIn, it’s Evernote that not only scans business cards but checks LinkedIn to fill in contact info for each person.
I’ve been paying for extra storage at this photo-sharing site since late 2011–back when the free version of Flickr offered a punitively-limited storage quota. This cost, too, has increased from $44.95 for two years to $49.99 a year. But now that Yahoo has sold the site to the photography hub SmugMug, the free tier once again requires serious compromises. And $50 a year doesn’t seem that bad, not when I’m supporting an indie-Web property instead of giving still more time to Facebook or Google.
Private Internet Access
I signed up for this virtual-private-network service two years ago at a discounted rate of $59.95 for two years, courtesy of a deal offered at Techdirt. Absent that discount, I’d pay $69.95, so I will reassess my options when this runs out in a few months. Not paying for a VPN service, however, is not an option; how else am I supposed to keep up on American news when I’m in Europe?
I decided to pay for the full-feature version of this password manager last year, and I’m already reconsidering that. Three reasons why: The free version of LastPass remains great, the premium version implements U2F two-step verification in a particularly inflexible way, and the company announced last month that the cost of Premium will increase from $24 a year to $36.
Combined and with multi-year costs annualized, all of these services added up to $258.96 last year. I suspect this total compares favorably to what we spend on news and entertainment subscriptions–but that’s not math I care to do right now.
I cut my Flickr Pro account down from 6,000 to 995 because (1) the huge price increase while (2) adding no features and not giving any hope of improvements to come, and (3) no reasonable expectation that the community will return to it. I polled my Facebook group on what people were doing with their accounts and the younger travelers hadn’t even heard of Flickr or saw it as a relic.
I actually do have confidence that SmugMug will improve Flickr–they don’t have any other business to distract them, unlike Yahoo, and I have seen the service finally fix longstanding issues like not being able to edit a photo both on the Web and in the apps. I’m also okay looking old on social media 🙂
@robpegoraro – how have you found that editor interface? It took me quite a time to figure out how to batch delete photos. I don’t suppose I like any of the online editors. I still have trust old Picasa 3 installed on my PC.
I do wonder about the business decision to drive away so many paying Pro subscribers by forcing a decision to either pay more than double or to go to the drastic step of all that deleting. Now my parting and lasting impression is deleting so even if they came up with a magic restore button and a great offer, I wouldn’t take it. These were photo sets from trips a decade ago that I carefully assembled, geotagged, and captioned.
Do you use or not a hard drive back up service? I’ve used Backblaze for several years. When I asked around IT people it was the one they found the least fault, because that is closest to a recommendation you get from IT people. Not hard to use it for anything catastrophic, though from time to time on the road need individual files that not otherswise with me.
VPN I use ExpressVPN because of my frequent travel to China where that is still the best among expats (Astrill is a contender).
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