Brief: If you are moving away from Google Photos, Piwigo is an impressive open-source alternative with the ability to self-host. Let’s explore more about it.
Google Photos is one of the most popular options to back up your photos and videos.
Considering that it is the default choice for most Android phones, it is a seamless experience managing photos/videos using Google Photos.
But, what if you want to move away from it for something open-source and more privacy-friendly? Not just from Google Photos, from proprietary photo hosting platforms overall.
Meet Piwigo, an open-source photo management software to the rescue.
Piwigo: Open-Source Photo Library That You Can Self-Host
Piwigo is an open-source solution to help manage your photos and videos.
You can choose to host it yourself, take control of your data, or opt for cloud hosting (data stored in France, with backups).
The company has its origins in France, if you are curious.
Not just for individuals, but Piwigo is also tailored for organizations and teams.
If you are worried about the privacy policies when you upload using Google Photos or similar services, Piwigo can be a brilliant replacement.
Piwigo offers a range of features and fine-grained control to manage your photos.
Features of Piwigo
While it is a viable alternative to mainstream services, it offers advanced capabilities for individuals and organizations.
Some features include:
- Get your dedicated subdomain with cloud hosting (*.piwigo.com)
- Ability to download in batch
- Create albums
- Select photos to assign existing album collections
- Share photos by link
- Access management with public and private mode
- Ability to group users to manage your albums or photos (effective for organizations/teams)
- Basic analytics to track your usage and storage used
- Supports adding tags to albums/photos
- Dark mode support
- Ability to edit the photo metadata
- Filters to quickly find a photo/album
- Support for JPG/JPEG, PNG, and GIF files (for individuals)
- Support for all file types (for enterprise use only)
- Unlimited storage for individual users
- Supports custom domain names (even for cloud hosting option)
- Plugins to extend functionalities
- Theme support
- Mobile support (Android and iOS)
In addition to the features mentioned above, you get additional options to improve the user management and the overall user experience with Piwigo.
I tested it for a quick overview using its cloud hosting option for individuals (with a 30-day trial period). Let me share some of my insights to help you understand them before you try.
Using Piwigo to Manage Photos
When you sign up for an account, you get to specify your custom subdomain.
For instance, I have my test account on ankushsoul.piwigo.com.
Anyone can access my publicly shared photos/albums by entering the above URL in their browsers.
So, it is better to keep the subdomain’s name as unique as possible. In either case, you can also restrict the albums/photos to logged-in users (or to yourself), where no one else can access your photos even if they know your subdomain.
You can head to its dashboard to check your storage usage and the overall activity.
There are two activated plugins, one for internal functionality and another to fight spammers by default.
You will find plenty of plugins to enhance batch management, enable admin messages, activate comments on albums, add expiration on your albums, limit downloads, and access to several exciting features.
It would be best if you took a moment to browse the available selection of plugins to evaluate how useful they can be compared to Google Photos.
Of course, you do not get this kind of control with any mainstream cloud photo hosting services.
So, it is well worth the exploration.
For the rest of the existing features, you can manage multiple users, control access, send notifications (via email), and also get to perform some maintenance activities.
Overall, the user experience is pretty good. It may not offer the most modern user interface, but it works and is easy to manage.
Note: The mobile experience (on Android) may not be satisfactory, considering the app available on the Play Store hasn’t received any recent updates. However, you can find the latest version APK file on their GitHub.
Get Started With Piwigo
I think Piwigo is perfect for a range of individuals, starting from someone who wants to organize photos, to users who want to collaborate/share pictures for work.
If you choose to self-host it, you should check out its documentation and explore the GitHub page.
You will need to maintain the instance properly and have a backup of your data, considering you manage it all alone.
If you opt for the cloud hosting option (as an individual), the pricing starts at 39 Euros per year for unlimited image file uploads and will be cheaper if you get a 3-year subscription.
The individual plans do not mention a specific storage limit (unlimited). So, it is safe to say that you should not have any issues unless you start abusing the service.
Given the control you get with the service, most users will prefer to use the cloud hosting service and ditch services like Google Photos.
Pricing plans for enterprises/organizations will be expensive (per month). However, it supports all file types for enterprises.
What do you think about a self-hosted alternative to Google Photos like Piwigo? Have you tried it? Is the cloud hosting option a viable alternative to mainstream options?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.