Photo and Metadata Backup for Flickr

This is a photo and metadata backup utility for Flickr written as a self-contained Java command line tool. The metadata is written is an XML file whose format is an aggregation of the response data from the Flickr API.

There is no restore utility. That’s up to you. I don’t need one yet.

(Not only is there no restore utility, this is pretty bad code. Minimal error handling, etc. Just something I hacked until it ran well enough to do what I wanted it to do.)


You might write a script that accidentally deletes stuff with the Flickr API. A disaster could damage Flickr’s system. The API and your freedom to leave could be turned off.

You never know. In any case, it is a good idea to have a copy of data before bad stuff happens.

Other backup utilities only copy your photos omitting all the metadata you’ve entered or copy metadata but entangle it in RDF. This utility copies both metadata and photos and uses Flickr’s own XML data modeling (with very slight changes to aggregate it all).


Version 1.0 (tested with Java 5)

Note: API key needed.

Backup Format

The metadata backup file consists of an XML file whose root element is <rsp>. The root has two children: <photosets> and <photos>.

The children of <photosets> correspond to the response of the flickr.photosets.getPhotos API call with the response of flickr.photosets.comments.getList added as a child.

The children of <photos> correspond to the response except the <comments> element is replaced with the response of

The photos are named id_originalsecret_o.format.


This application is Free Software consisting of bits under the MIT license, a BSD-style license and the Apache License 2.0. (Details in the package; source in the jar in the package.)


Flickr is a trademark and service mark Yahoo! Inc.

This product includes software developed by Aetrion LLC.

This product includes software developed by IBM Corporation ( and The Apache Software Foundation (

Portions of this software was originally based on the following: