Once I made the decision to ditch Google, I set out to find replacements for all Google services. Some were easier than others, and, to begin with, I tried to find a single "suite" to replace the entire Google suite of apps. When I finally opened up to the possibility of mixing and matching apps from various companies, I began to find truly great alternatives to every single Google app.
Strangely, the most difficult Google app to replace was Google Photos. Auto-upload from mobile, shared libraries, facial recognition, search--how could anyone compete? In reality, there are a number of great alternatives. You'll be hard-pressed to find a better option than Amazon Prime Photos, which is what I landed on, especially if you're already a Prime member. Not only does Prime Photos have the same great features as Google Photos (including mobile upload, facial recognition, and Family Vault to share photos with your spouse and/or kids), the price is significantly better--the price per gigabyte is cheaper and you get unlimited photo storage! The unlimited photo storage doesn't mean downgraded "high quality" images like Google's "unlimited storage", but the real deal--your original photos in all their glory.
If you primarily take photos and the occasional video, you can probably get by with the 15GB included with Prime Photos. Even if your video storage puts you over the free limit, 100GB is only $11 per year. With Google Photos, you'll no doubt be over the 15GB free limit between photos and videos, especially given that photos you share via Shared Libraries count against both your storage and your spouse's storage!
No brainer, right? Thankfully, the switch was easier than I expected, and I've documented the process so you don't make the same mistakes I made.
1. Sign up and configure your Prime Photos account
First, you need to be an Amazon Prime member. Head over to amazon.com to create an account or upgrade to a Prime membership.
Once you have a Prime membership, you automatically have access to Prime Photos.
Before you go further, one of the best features of Prime is the ability to share membership benefits with your family by setting up an Amazon Household. While not a requirement, if you want to share your photos with your spouse, you can add your spouse to your Amazon Household first, which not only makes sharing photos easier, it shares all of your other Prime benefits as well.
Regardless of whether you add your spouse to your Amazon Household, if you want to share photos, head to your Prime Photos Family Vault, where you can invite up to five family members or friends to share photos and videos. All members of your Family Vault can add photos and videos for everyone to share.
You can also (optionally) automatically add all new photos to your Family Vault. Go to settings, and turn "Add Uploads to Family Vault" on.
From the same settings menu, you can easily add or remove all of your photos to/from Family Vault at any time.
2. Free up space on your mobile device(s)
Now that you have a Prime Photos account, it's time to migrate all your photos and videos from Google Photos. First, if you use the Google Photos mobile app, free up space on your mobile device by removing all photos that have already been uploaded to Google Photos. Otherwise, you'll end up with duplicates in Prime Photos after you migrate and turn on Prime Photo's Auto-Save feature on your device. Open Google Photos on your Android or iOS device, open the app menu, and select "Free up space"
3. Turn off back up & sync
While you're at it, turn off "backup & sync" from the Google Photos app settings as well. Better yet, you don't need the Google Photos app anymore, so you can uninstall it.
4. Install Prime Photos mobile app
If you want to automatically backup your photos and videos to Prime Drive, turn on "auto-save" in settings.
Repeat Steps 2-4 for each of your phones / tablets.
5. Turn on "Google Photos" folder in Google Drive
Now that you have your phones and tablets setup, it's time to migrate all those photos you have stored in Google Photos. The first step in the migration is to make sure all photos are available in Google Drive.
Visit Google Drive online, click the settings icon in the upper-right and check the option to "Automatically put your Google Photos into a folder in My Drive.
6. Sync photos to your local computer
Once you all of your photos are accessible in Google Drive, you can use Google's Backup and Sync application to sync all of your photos to your local computer.
Download the application by clicking the settings icon again, and selecting Download Backup and Sync for Windows (or Mac):
Once installed, open the app and:
- Sign in
- Skip step 2 (backup)
- Select "Sync My Drive to this computer", and either sync everything or selectively sync folders that contain photos and videos (including the Google Photos folder)
Now, wait ... depending on how many photos and videos you have in Google Photos / Drive, this part can take a while. Make sure your computer is plugged in, connected to the internet, and prevent the hard drive from sleeping. In Windows, open the settings app, search for Power & sleep, and change the Sleep setting to Never for When plugged in:
7. Use Amazon Drive desktop app to upload photos
Finally, download and install the Amazon Drive desktop app. Once installed, follow the instructions to backup all your photos and videos folders you synced to your local computer in Step 6.
Sit back, and enjoy watching your photos and videos make their way to Prime Photos. Facial recognition will start to identify people in your photos, and, if you turned on Family Vault, your spouse will begin to see your family photos pouring in as well.
When Amazon Drive is finished backing up your photos and videos, you can uninstall Google Drive Backup and Sync. You can also uninstall Amazon Drive from your computer, but it's nice for uploading photos from SD cards or other devices.