with a privacy first focus?
As everyone else : Nextcloud.
If you feel self hosting Nextcloud (which would be the best option) seems to be too complicated and if you have (or find for cheap) an old PC where you can install Debian on it then have a look at a project called NextcoudPi : https://ownyourbits.com/nextcloudpi
Basically it does the setup for self hosting for you including SSL certificate etc. and just works. Of course it’s always better to do everything yourself because you know exactly what is done. But here I think it’s a great solution if you do not have (yet) the technical knowledge to manually setup everything yourself. See that as a first experience into self hosting … which then may trigger your interest into looking for more things to self host and you’ll start to learn little by little.
I know that Protondrive will launch (eventually…)
Yes, between now and the year 2054. Being a Protonmail Plus user I have access to ProtonDrive Beta (beta.protonmail.com if you are “Plus” and want to look at it) and I can tell you it won’t replace Google Photos for most users. Reason why : files in Proton Drive being encrypted means you don’t see thumbnails for them (which in a way is good but here it’s not). Just the file type icon and the name (for example for a picture you’ll see a JPEG icon and the name of the file PIC_002155.JPG for example). Which means you can forget about seeing all your thumbnails in one convenient view. If your photos are very well organized and named then it could work well for you. But if you are a visual person (like me) who need to see the pics to recognize them then forget about Proton Drive. And it’s also very slow to upload pictures (for example for me yesterday it took 50mn to upload 5Go) which could be easily explained either by the encryption or by the number of files and folders… or maybe only because for now it’s still in Beta phase and nothing is fully operational ?
But I do happen to like the Google Photos timeline, and memories feature. I know that there are services like OneDrive and apple photos. But I wouldn’t like to use any of them either.
Have a look into self hosting your photos with a Synology NAS. Of course it’s not the 100% perfect privacy solution as you still have to trust a company (Synology)(if I’m not mistaken they are a chinese company and for some people that is a big “no”) for their hardware and software (very expensive on paper and proprietary) but at the end it gives you the power to self host your data in a very convenient way, taking care of backups on your NAS (not on an internet cloud) and you can use it for a lot of interesting things (Plex server, download station, calendars, contacts, pictures of course, even emails and video surveillance etc.) all hosted at your home. And in this case you don’t use Apple or Google and their software “Moments” (which is their photos managment software) is very well done, great UI, has timeline, faces recognition (if you wish to activate it), smart folders based on pictures location etc. Have a try : https://demo.synology.com/en-us/dsm
DSM is the name of their operating system for their NAS. Free trial online using the link above, once you launch it have a look to the app called “Moments” . My advice here : have some random pictures (cat pictures you found online is great for that) ready so you can try to upload them in Moments during your trial and see how the end result look like, try the different options etc.
That was my 2 cents sorry if it’s a long post with the lockdown in place here I didn’t notice how long I took for this post lol.
Edit : fixed the presentation as I messed up the quoted parts the first time.