Best privacy friendly alternative to Apple Photos for syncing and backing up photos

Hi everyone,

And first of all thanks for the great community!

I am a long time Apple user, and my photo library (over 100 GB) lives in Apple Photos. I use iCloud Photos, and I love the concept that

  1. gives me access to my whole library on all of my devices,
  2. allows me to automatically have the whole library locally backed up,
  3. syncs all edits that I might do to old photos and
  4. does points 1, 2 and 3 automatically on the background without me having to do anything.

The issue is that it doesn’t work. I have had way too many issues with the service, and for this reason I no longer want to pay for the additional iCloud storage needed. In my thread model I have had no issue with Apple as the service provider for this, but the continues issues have made me want to change, and I definitely want the replacement service to be at least equally as good for my privacy as Apple / iCloud Photos.

I have had no success finding a service that would do what Apple Photos promises to do (points 1 -4 above) and that would also respect my privacy. I suppose such service doesn’t exist? And if that’s the case, how have you privacy minded folk sorted out your photo organisation, syncing and backup needs? What kind of services and workflows do you use?

I would recommend Nextcloud (but might not me that cheap if you have +100 GB of data unless you self-host it).
I can verify that 1. and 2. works in the background (at least on my Android device) but I don’t know if that applies to later edited photos (3.).

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  1. Hosting your own Nextcloud
  2. crypt.ee
  3. ente
  4. Hosting your own PiWiGo
  5. PhotoPrism

You should do your own research here are just the ones that I am aware of

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Thanks for the info, NextCloud has indeed been first on my list of potential options based on what I’ve read. Are you self hosting yourself? And if not, is there a provider you can recommend?

Thank you, I have in fact done quite some research and I was already aware of most of the names you mentioned. What I would appreciate is more first hand experiences from people using these services for their photos. What kind of workflows you are using with them and so on? Just reading about these services hasn’t convinced me that any of them would be the perfect replacement, so it would be useful to know what people with similar needs are actually using and how.

I do self-host my own NextCloud instance on my Raspberry Pi with an external HDD attached for more storage.
I used the web installer, but depending on your machine where you want to host it I would recommend a docker image or VM image for NextCloud.
I can’t recommend any NextCloud provider because I did not test them myself, but here you can search for some providers (but they usually give you only a few gigabytes if you want the free solution).

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Nowerdays I manage a Nextcloud server, which has been great. Though, it’s not for everyone. Keeping up with updates, and setting things up is not for the technical illiterate. To do it properly, some Linux and networking experience is going to be needed… that’s for self hosting anything, though. I’d imagine this is why Henry (Techlore) is taking awhile on making their NextCloud guide.

I’ve helped setup a friends Synology NAS, and that’s been working great for them. Setup is really simple, and it’s pretty damn stable. I found their iOS apps to be a lot better than their Android counterparts, though.

Before Synology, my friend used a QNAP NAS. I don’t recall much about their photo syncing, but they were not a fan of its software.

I’ve tried using Cryptomancer for encrypting and syncing to a cloud provider, but it’s not really fit for purpose. I found it’s syncing unreliable, and it’s a hassle to manage.

I really like what Proton is doing with their Drive… but it’s got a long way to go, before I can recommend it for photo syncing.

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Have you tried ente out , else nextcloud is a good option too.

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