A few months ago, I made the switch from using Google Photos to another photo-storage service. It was a hard decision to make at first, but after I realized how much better this alternative is…I realized I should have made the change sooner. I had been using Google Photos for years and was really happy with it. Honestly, I don’t have many complaints about it other than…I need more storage. Another issue is I found that I was starting to have some privacy concerns. Not security concerns because those are entirely different.
But as I was uploading another massive dump of personal video and image files (and realizing Google now has smart AI that scans every image uploaded to their servers), I came to the realization that Google has a lot of data on me already. And quite honestly, I didn’t want them to have access to all my family photos as well. So…I researched and found a great alternative I now use. Here’s why I made the switch and what I use instead.
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Why I Stopped Using Google Photos
As much as I loved using Google Photos, I just couldn’t get past the fact that Google would have access to all my family photos. Okay…are they going to do anything with that data? I don’t think so. BUT…it was a personal decision for me. And we’re not just talking about any photos, these are photos and videos of my kids and grandkids! Even though it meant saying goodbye to some features that I really liked (like automatic backup and easy sharing), I decided to switch to a different service.
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What I Use Now
There are a few different options out there for photo storage, but the one I settled on is Synology Photos. This photo management service is great because it offers many of the same features as Google Photos (automatic backup, easy sharing, etc) PLUS some insane photo management enhancements that are next-level. Here are some of the incredible things Synology Photos can do:
- Super fast interface. Most photo management software can have image load issues (even the good ones). Not Synology Photos. You can easily find all your photos quickly.
- Intelligent organization. You can customize albums. Set conditions on albums. And using smart technology, find any photo using facial recognition and other ways like tags.
- Photo backup in multiple locations
- No subscriptions. No ads. No fees. No limitation of space if I have big enough hard drives
- Intuitive app for both Android and iPhone. What I love about the app is it will automatically send your photos to your NAS in the background. You can literally have a photo uploaded within 15 seconds. One of the best and most efficient photo backup methods out there.
What Do I Need To Use Synology Photos
For starters, you will need a Synology NAS device. My favorite is the Synology DiskStation DS420j. As a side note, Synology Photos will replace Synology’s Photo Station and Moments. You’ll also need DSM (DiskStation Manager) 7.0. You’ll also need the Advanced Media Extensions and codec pack. Once you have these prereqs, you’ll need to be running as a DSM administrator.
- Step 1: Go to Package Center and find Synology Photos. You’ll want to install it. Once finished (inside the DSM), you’ll need to go to the Main Menu and select Synology Photos.
- Step 2: Through the Quickconnect ID, navigate to DSM Control Panel, then Login Portal, then Applications. Select Synology Photos and in the Alias, field add “photo”.
- Step 3: Make sure to replace Your_QuickConnect_ID with your information. Here is some more info on QuickConnect if you are having trouble.
- Step 4: You’ll be inundated with a bunch of pages about all the intros and details. You can read them if you want. Once finished, select Enable The People album in my Personal Space. You can enable/disable this whenever you want.
- Step 5: Download the mobile app (which I highly recommend).
- Step 6: Once you have familiarized yourself with the application and how Synology Photos operates, invite other users (start with family).
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How Do I Transfer Photos And Videos From Google Photos To Synology Photos?
There’s an easy way to do this. And there’s the hard way. I HIGHLY suggest NOT doing it the hard way. And we’ve all done it before. It’s more manual work and requires you to download all your files (photos and videos) from Google Photos to a PC (or external hard drive) with enough storage space.
The Hard Way
Depending on how large those files are…this could take some time to download. You can also use Google Takeout. I have a thorough step-by-step guide on how to use Google Takeout to export your Google Files. From there, you’ll get a .zip file and you’ll have to extract it and delete all the JSON files in that folder. Once you’re in Synology Photos (open File Station, etc), you’ll want to drag that Google Photos folder from your hard drive on your PC (or wherever you downloaded your Google Photos data) and drop it into Synology Photos. Honestly, I’d make sure you have some time on your hands because this could take a while. Synology Photos will index all the photos to make sure you can utilize all of its features.
The Easy Way
In the Synology Package Center, you’ll want to find and install the Cloud Sync. Once installed, open it and select Google Drive. The Google Account access popup window will appear and you’ll need to use the Google account where your Google Photos are located. This is really important. After that, select Allow so Cloud Sync can access your Google Drive data.
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You’ll be redirected to the DiskStation Manager page where you’ll need to select a new sync task. You’ll want to find the Local path folder in your NAS because that’s where you’ll store your files from Google. And..you’ll want to use the Remote Path (the source folder in Google drive) to sync. You’ll want to choose the Sync direction (the most common is Bidirectional) and then hit Next.
Should You Make The Switch To Synology Photos?
Making the switch from Google Photos to NAS with Diskstation wasn’t easy at first, but it was worth it for me in terms of privacy and the features are just heads and shoulders better. If you’re looking for an alternative to Google Photos, using Synology Photos is the best option, especially if you are already using a NAS device like Synology.