New update gives Synology Photos a distinct edge over Google Photos

Synology Photos
(Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Android Central)

The biggest selling point of Google Photos was unlimited photo storage, but Google got rid of that option last year. With 15GB of free storage available with a Google account, the search giant is now nudging users to pay for a Google One plan should they exceed the free storage quota. So when Google announced the move to remove unlimited storage in Google Photos, I started looking for an alternative.

It didn't take long for me to figure out that Synology Photos is a viable solution. I've been using the DiskStation DS1019+ and DS1520+ to back up full-res photos and videos from all the phones we have in the house, so it was pretty straightforward to consider the brand. There are a few advantages to using a NAS server for storing your media, key among them being data security. As the data never leaves your home, you have full control over your photos and videos, and I wrote a guide breaking down why a NAS server is the ideal offline Google Photos alternative.

To its credit, Synology did a fabulous job collating all of its disparate services into a unified entity for backing up photos and videos, dubbing it Synology Photos. The move coincided with Google killing off unlimited storage with Google Photos, and having used Synology Photos soon after it launched, there was a lot to like. Synology Photos is insanely fast at uploading photos, and as you're only doing so within your home network, it has a distinct advantage over Google Photos in this regard — particularly if you're working with large albums with hundreds or thousands of photos.

Synology Photos gets a lot right, and it now works natively on the best smart TV platforms.

Then there's the fact that Synology Photos has better photo management, and you get the ability to sort photos by location, camera, file name, and more. This makes a big difference for my particular use case as I tend to search with file names when looking for product shots. As we're on that subject, the cost of storage adds up very fast if you need a lot of it on Google Photos. I'd need to get the 10TB tier if I had to back up all the photos I shot over the last three years in native resolution, and that comes out to $49 a month, or $600 a year — that's the cost of two 18TB Red Pro drives (opens in new tab), and I know what I'm buying.

What makes Synology Photos a little more enticing is that the latest version has native clients for Android TV and Apple TV, making it about as straightforward as possible to browse your media library on the TV. The Synology Photos client for Android and iOS does a brilliant job transferring photos to the NAS, and with the ability to easily view those photos on the best smart TV platforms, Synology is proving that it is invested in making its photo management service one of the best around. This was an issue when I wrote about the service last year, and I'm glad to see it change for the better.

Don't get me wrong; Google Photos still gets a lot right, and the ease of use combined with the editing features makes it a great choice for a lot of users. But if you're like me and take a lot of photos and videos, it makes better sense to get an offline solution for storing all of your full-resolution media. If you're interested in making the switch, the DiskStation DS220+ is still my pick for the best home NAS, and is a great starting point. I also wrote a guide detailing how to transfer your photos from Google Photos to Synology Photos, so take a look at that to understand how to move your data. 

Harish Jonnalagadda
Senior Editor - Asia

Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.