About eight years ago, Google released what I believe to be one of their best products to date – Google Photos. I admit that though I cared about my digital privacy at the time, it wasn't enough to avoid the pull. Among other things, I got sucked in by unlimited photo backups, advanced photo recognition features, easy photo album collaboration, and access to ALL of my photos on ALL of my devices.
Only long after Google Photos became ingrained into my workflow over the course of four or five years was it that I finally sought something better. But it wasn't until May 2022 that I eventually found a genuine Google Photos alternative. It's called ente Photos, and I doubt I'll be switching from it anytime soon.
What is ente Photos?
ente Photos is an encrypted open-source photo backup solution. There are desktop applications for all major operating systems as well as for Android, iOS, and you can even access your pictures directly from the web.
If you've used Google Photos, then you know exactly how ente Photos works. Just open the app, select all the folders you want it to back up and/or manually upload whatever photos you'd like, and let it do it's thing. If you have a large photo library the initial backup will take a while, but that's to be expected.
It's so simple, you can give this to your non-tech savvy friends and family, and they should be able to figure it out on their own with little to no help. In fact, that's exactly what I've done.
On top of that, ente Photos touts many other features we've come to expect from a robust photo backup solution. This includes, but is not limited to, automatic backups in original quality, collaborative photo albums, yearly memory highlights, and easy photo sharing.
Why does ente Photos beat out the competition?
Before initially making the switch to ente Photos, I tried many other solutions. I gave Nextcloud a go, I tinkered with PhotoPrism, I attempted a Syncthing workflow, but nothing ever felt as polished or as straight forward as Google Photos.
Not only was Google Photos seamless, but most of the competition didn't offer alternatives to its robust feature set. Plus, they all took much more work to set up and maintain. This wasn't inherently a problem for me, but it meant none of these solutions could be genuine drop in replacements for Google Photos for the average person. Enter ente Photos.
ente Photos offers so many things I find useful that the competition doesn't, namely ease of use. ente Photos truly is plug and play, and with it's ample feature set, in my opinion it easily beats out the rest when looking for a Google Photos alternative.
Why do I trust ente Photos?
Trust is something we need to dull out conservatively in the digital space. And as you may have figured out by now, ente Photos isn't something you can self-host.
Though it's open source, all of your photos will be on someone else's server. For some this is no big deal. For others, this is a deal breaker. So then why do I trust it with thousands of my own photos?
There are many reasons I trust ente Photos. Most importantly, I have no problem using ente Photos thanks to the peace of mind I get knowing all images are end-to-end encrypted.
That means no one at ente has access to my photos nor can they even look at them. ente Photos has also undergone a third party audit and passed with flying colors, so we know how robust the encryption is.
On top of that, ente Photos supports multi-factor authentication and backs up all photos across three different locations. This protection and redundency provides me a sense of security I'll never truly have when backing photos up to my own home server, especially since I am not an expert systems administrator.
Another thing that makes me trust the service is how easy it is to export your content. Unlike Google Photos, ente Photos does not try to lock you into the service. Downloading ALL of your photos offline is not only a few clicks away in any of the desktop applications, but it also allows for continuous offline synching.
This means I can have all of my photos constantly backed up to my computer in real time. Because this process is so easy and straight forward, I have never felt trapped on ente Photos like I did Google Photos.
Downsides, pricing, and final thoughts as a Google Photos alternative
Honestly, there aren't many downsides to ente Photos in my opinion. Sure, the app lacks certain features found in Google Photos like face recognition, but these missing features are either privacy invasive anyway or are small tradeoffs compared to the huge privacy and security benefits ente Photos offers.
ente Photos even offers a free tier. Admittedly, it's only good for 1 GB of storage and up to 1 year of service, but that's plenty of time and space for anyone who is skeptical and wants to give it a shot.
Apart from that, ente Photos offeres four different plans at four different price points:
- 10 GB for $0.99/month or $9.99/year
- 100 GB for $4.99/month or $49.99/year
- 500 GB for $9.99/month or $99.99/year
- 2 TB for $19.99/month or $199.99/year
I believe these plans are competitively priced for what you get, especially considering users are able to share their accounts with family members. Instead of having seperate family plans, ente Photos just let's users share their exisiting plan with up to five other ente Photos users. All users' photos count toward the max storage limit, and ente Photos visualizes usage so you can tell exactly who is eating up most of it.
All things considered, I really don't have any major gripes with ente Photos. Yeah, I wish you could self-host it if you wished. But other than that, it not only gets the job done, it does it better and easier than I could ever hope.
If you want to give ente Photos a try, check out the link below. Plus, if you use referral code UTYGGAMY you'll get 10 gb extra of storage for free when you sign up for a paid plan. If you give it a whirl, let us know what you think in the comments below.