Unfortunately, while you can take steps to protect what you post from prying eyes, once family members have downloaded videos, there is to way to control what they then do with them! It’s important to weigh the possibility that well-meaning friends and family may share your videos themselves online without consideration for security vs. wanting them to see the videos at all. For some, burning DVDs and mailing them may remain the safest road. However, if you really want to take advantage of the speed of online technology, here are some ideas:
1. You Tube — The most common method of sharing videos on the internet today is this wildly popular YouTube website, owned by Google. You can upload videos onto a channel for your family and set that to private, giving the password only to those you wish to be able to view your videos. There is some concern, however, that no matter what setting you use on YouTube, there is still some possibility that your video will become public domain due to loopholes in YouTube’s Terms of Service and use.
2. Facebook — Probably the most popular way to share videos besides YouTube is to put them on Facebook. While not the most secure site as a rule, there are steps you can take to make your entire profile private, and thus everything that’s posted on within it. You can determine which people who “friend” you profile can see which parts of your profile, including videos.
3. Start a Family Website — There are countless simple website hosts out there, such as Godaddy.com, which allow you to use simple software to design and launch a page where you can upload and share your family videos. Pages can be password protected so only those you wish to see them have access, or you can leave them open for public consumption.
4. Start a Family Blog — You can easily set up a blog at Blogger.com or WordPress.com for free, and set it as private. Upload videos as blog posts, and set the view to password protected. Only give the family the password, and they can check out what you have posted, or with WordPress, receive updates by email. Individual posts can be set as private, or the entire blog can have restricted access. Blogs are also a fun way to not only share videos, but photos and other news about the family, like a virtual newsletter.
5. Dropshots — A “family friendly” photo and video archiving site that allows for password protection on the page, as well as setting individual pieces as private. The service emphasizes that it does not put photos into a public gallery or allow them to be indexed or searched by bots or engines. Free and premium accounts are available.
6. Shutterfly — While Shutterfly is known as a service where uploaded photos are turned into personalized products such as photobooks, it has also created a service called Shutterfly Share, which offers free family websites with personalized web address that allows uploading 10 videos with the free version. More video space is available from the premium version, and both can be secured with a password.
7. Vimeo — A service much like YouTube, but without the crowds and super-hype. It also allows tighter security. You can set a password for your entire account, each individual video, and you can also block people from downloading videos to prevent them becoming public, accidentally or otherwise. Vimeo videos can be shared securely by email, which allows you to send a private, temporary link to whomever you choose by email.
Other simple, free services that have recently become popular include SkyDrive by Microsoft, Google Docs, and DropBox. These are all part of what has become known as cloud storage, which entails uploading your materials –in this case, home videos — to a secure, personal storage site. From there, you can grant access through disseminating the private link and password to allow family members to view or download videos from your account.
There are countless possibilities for keeping in touch by sharing video with family. The major choices you have to make are how accessible and how secure you want those videos to be, and how much you want to pay to have control. Whatever you choose, there is no denying the heart-warming marvel of seeing people every day that in times past, you might not see for years at a time.