Nearly all the images of nearly all the posts will suddenly disappear.

I suspect, recovery work will start on the spot, probably by asking for the local user caches of the readers, and digging in the archive.org . But it won't be ever complete.

Does the SE have some local backup of the many imgur.com images?

Yes I know that the imgur.com, being a big global provider, is not expected to suddenly die. Even short breakdowns are unlikely. But, it hosts a very large repository of images, it is essentially a large static file service, with little direct user interaction. This makes their business probably lesser economical, compared to other global services with this size.

Should maybe the SE host its own images at least?

  • 2
    Wow, I did not think that I will be an unpopular post. It seems to be a very unpredictable community.
    – peterh
    Commented May 5, 2019 at 16:29
  • 1
    "if something happens to imgur.com" - no, but imgur can't just drop away either. AFAIK SE and Imgur has a contract - if it ends, Imgur likely can't destroy the images. But this also likely won't happen in the near foreseeable future. It's the official image service for a reason after all. Commented May 5, 2019 at 16:29
  • @Olivia Or, in the unlikely case than they would want to end the contract on any reason, they will need to give time to the SE to migrate in time. I remember 9/11, some important routers were in the WTC, but after their breakdown, the system automatically switched to backup pathes and no major internet breakdown happened.
    – peterh
    Commented May 5, 2019 at 16:33
  • 4
    How is that relevant? And SE has likely taken precautions for that, but how is WTC in 2001 at all relevant to whether imgur stops being SE's image host at some point between now and the end of the universe? Commented May 5, 2019 at 16:34
  • 5
    @peterh I believe all the downvotes could be avoided if you simply asked "Does SE have a backup plan in case Stack Imgur goes down?", without all the irrelevant fluff (e.g. "this makes their business lesser economical"). That said, I did upvote as it's a potentially useful reference question with an useful answer.
    – user437611
    Commented May 5, 2019 at 18:47
  • @Blue Thank you very much the info, and that you gave me a better insight into the voting customs of the community. However, my opinion is that there is no significant difference between my this post and the possible version you suggest. More clearly: if I get from this community 8, and probably yet more downs only because I mentioned this "irrelevant bluff", then I want to live with these downs together, and the post remains as it is.
    – peterh
    Commented May 5, 2019 at 18:57
  • @peterh Well, it's basically that this community prefers a high signal-to-noise ratio. Now what you will choose to do is your prerogative. :)
    – user437611
    Commented May 5, 2019 at 19:02
  • @Blue In my opinion, the part related to the imgur.com is signal, and not noice. Maybe the real problem is that I talked about the stability of other companies? It could be understable, because it is obviously not my business. But no one said this, and I tried to get away the hot part.
    – peterh
    Commented May 5, 2019 at 19:05
  • @Blue Furthermore, the imgur.com has nearly zero direct user interaction, but it has probably a high hosting cost. Yes, I admit that it is not my task to talk about, but yes, this looks to be a dangerous concept to me. they essentially sell infinite amount of HDD, for anybody on the world, forever. Does it look a stable business concept for you? And, if something happens to them, the SE will have a problem. This is what makes these sentences "signal", and not "noice".
    – peterh
    Commented May 5, 2019 at 19:07

1 Answer 1


Nothing will happen.

Lots of images might go 404 for a short or longer period until SE has restored the images from the backup and have a server with new urls ready. The community bot has to rewrite some urls in affected posts. Maybe some client side stuff has to be developed to re-implement an image uploader. Give it 6 to 8 days.

It is not unusual or a unqiue event that an external image storage provider goes belly up. The Imageshack debacle is the most prominent in this case and there are still recovery actions taking place for that content.

It is another reason SE preferred a decent image provider where they have a contract with AND the option to offload the images to their own backup.

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