Immich is an open-source self-hosted photo and video backup solution that allows you to store your personal media collection securely on your own servers rather than relying on cloud storage providers. This guide will walk through how to install Immich on a Raspberry Pi, optimize the setup, and use Immich to organize and back up your photo and video libraries.
Why Use Immich for Personal Media Management
Immich provides an intuitive interface for browsing, organizing and sharing photos and videos without needing to worry about storage limits, privacy concerns, or monthly fees. Running it on a Raspberry Pi allows you to turn the tiny computer into a low-cost, low-power home server perfect for centralizing your personal media collection.
Some of the key reasons to use Immich include:
- Total control over your data – No third-party has access or can revoke access
- Facial recognition – Automatically tag people for easier search and organization
- Fast local network access – Stream your HD videos on your LAN without buffering
- Encryption – Keep your private media extra secure with end-to-end encryption
To install Immich on the Raspberry Pi 4, you will need:
- A Raspberry Pi 4 (preferably the 4GB or 8GB RAM models)
- MicroSD Card (Minimum 16GB Class 10)
- Raspberry Pi Power Supply
- External USB hard drive for storage
- Heatsinks and Fan (Recommended to control thermals)
I’ll be using the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B with 4GB RAM for this demo, but the setup works similarly for Pi 3 and other variants.
Download and Install Immich Image
We will install Immich using the official Immich for Raspberry Pi OS image:
- Download the latest Immich OS image from https://github.com/imma-bot/Immich/releases
- Flash the image onto a formatted MicroSD Card using balenaEtcher
- For first boot only: Insert the SD Card and connect network cable, power up the Pi without external USB drive attached
- The Pi will expand the file system on first boot, then shutdown when completed
- Insert your formatted external USB hard drive for Immich media storage
- Bootup the Pi with the USB drive attached
This will completes the basic device setup with Immich installed and ready to configure further.
With the basic installation done, we can start configuration:
- Find the IP address of your Pi on the network and enter it into browser
- The default username and password are: admin / imma
- Open the Immich Dashboard on initial login and run through the guided wizard for core settings
- Review preferences and adjust options: Users, Folders to Import, Facial Recognition, etc.
- Let Immich import your existing media folders or copy files manually onto the external drive
- Attach more USB drives if needed using USB Storage page when first is full
Once Immich starts indexing and processing your photo and video files, they will appear nicely sorted in the user interface.
Importing Large Media Libraries
Migrating your years of media to Immich can takes hours to days depending on library size and Pi processing power.
To make bulk import faster:
- Use wired network connection rather than WiFi
- Enable Parallel Tasks in settings and experiment with higher values
- Consider using external drive dock connected to the Pi so disks can be swapped
To achieve smooth performance long term you may need optimization:
- Attach heatsinks on the main SoC to prevent thermal throttling
- Upgrade to a Raspberry Pi 4 or overclock CPU speeds
- Add a small fan to provide airflow if overclocking
- Use a high quality MicroSD card and replace every 2-3 years
- Connect an SSD rather than HDD if possible
- Limit number of simultaneous users to prevent RAM exhaustion
With some tuning, even a lowly Raspberry Pi 4B with 4GB RAM can handle backing up tens of thousands of personal photos and videos while serving them on your home network.
Additional Configuration Options
To unlock additional capabilities, you will want to explore the available Plug-ins and Apps:
- Immich Sync app to have media from your phone camera uploads automatically
- Maps Timeline plug-in integrates geolocation data into your library
- Customize the Theme colors and style under Interface Settings
And further customization can be done by editing the App Configuration files directly on your Pi. See https://imma.app/docs for details.
Key Takeaways on Immich Deployment
If you are looking to take control over your personal photo and video collection, Immich on a Raspberry Pi offers an affordable self-hosted solution:
- Data ownership – Full control instead of relying on external services
- Facial tagging – People in your library are automatically recognized
- Performance tuning – Optimizations allow tens of thousands of media to be accessed smoothly
- Remote access – Share your library with family while keeping files secure
- Automated backups – Set and forget mirroring from your devices
With robust software like Immich, commodity hardware like the Raspberry Pi 4 can give you a personal cloud for safeguarding your memories for decades to come.
Immich provides an easy to use platform for managing your own photo and video collections without relying on external cloud providers. Configuring Immich media server on the versatile Raspberry Pi allows you to create an always-on private archive for securely storing precious memories and home videos.
With optimized settings and attachments to extend storage, even a low cost Pi has enough power for most personal media libraries. And features like facial recognition, maps timeline and automated mobile syncing enrich how users can organize and interact with their personal history. For those looking to declutter their digital lives, Immich offers efficiency and control in an integrated self-hosted package.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What types of files can Immich manage?
Immich supports importing and indexing common photo (JPEG, PNG, etc.) and video (MP4, MOV, AVI and many more) media formats. Other files like documents can be stored but won’t have thumbnails or metadata extracted.
- Does the Raspberry Pi NAS need to be on all the time?
For automatic backup, remote access and facial recognition processing, it is recommended to have your DIY Immich server powered on continuously. But it can be shutdown as needed without data loss.
- Can I access my files remotely when away from home?
Yes, Immich has apps for Android and iOS that allow remote streaming and syncing capabilities via WiFi or mobile data similar to commercial cloud services.
- How many photos and videos can a Raspberry Pi handle?
With optimization tweaks, even a Raspberry Pi 4 with 4GB RAM can smoothly manage tens of thousands of files for 1-2 users. Larger libraries may require an upgrade to 8GB+ memory.
- What kind of hard drive should I use?
SSD drives provide the best performance, but lower capacity HDDs offer more economical bulk storage. For reliability, look for purpose-built external drives with cooling and power protection.
- Can I revert back to the original Raspberry Pi OS?
While inconvenient, you can overwrite the existing Immich install with a freshly installed Raspberry Pi OS image and revert the system to factory default. Your data files would be unaffected.
- Is there software I need to install on client devices?
Accessing your Immich server from desktop web browsers or mobile apps does not require any client-side installs or configuration. Just point device to your Pi’s IP address.
- How do I enable facial recognition?
Immich uses open-source face detection models that must be explicitly enabled under “Settings > Recognition > Enable Facial Recognition” before detection processing will occur automatically.
- Can I manage my Immich remotely like other cloud services?
Yes, there is an official Immich mobile app for Android and iOS that allows full library access along with remote media upload capabilities if remote access is configured properly under settings.
- Can multiple users share an Immich device safely?
Yes, adding multiple user accounts in Immich allows individuals to segregate their personal media while still having it all stored securely on central, privately controlled hardware.
- How is the data encrypted by Immich?
All media transferred to Immich servers is encrypted before being saved using 256-bit AES. Video streaming within your home and over remote access is also encrypted end-to-end via HTTPS.
- Can I upload from more than one phone to the same account?
The official Immich mobile app supports automatic syncing and upload capabilities in the background on multiple mobile devices for the same user account without issue.
- Does Immich integrate with other smart home platforms?
Yes, as an open platform Immich offers official integrations with Home Assistant and also works indirectly with tools leveraging DLNA media device standards.
- Can illustrations or other art be backed up and accessed?
While lacking automatic tagging, all common image formats like PNG, SVG, TIFF and other files can be stored on Immich. But the interface focuses on photography and video.
- Can Immich run well on older Raspberry Pi 3 devices?
For small media collections the Pi 3 B+ can work, but is not recommended. For smooth performance, using a Pi 4 board with heatsinks and adequate RAM is suggested.
- What is the advantage over Google Photos or Flickr?
Key benefits compared to big cloud platforms include full data ownership, facial recognition without privacy tradeoffs, higher image quality options, local network speed, and integration with other smart home tools when self-hosting.
- Does the Pi need an always-on Internet connection?
The Raspberry Pi running Immich itself does not require an Internet connection for most functionality like streaming media locally. But Internet access enables online app updates, mobile syncing and remote access outside of home.
- Can I switch storage drives or partition drives later on?
Immich has customizable storage options that allow you to change external drives by shutting system safely down first. Partitions can also be managed remotely after setup without affecting main OS.
- How does Immich handle duplicate files or versions?
During ingestion, Immich detects exact file duplicates based on checksums and only stores one copy rather than redundant files. Manual tools also allow finding similar images.
- What maintenance does the system need long term?
Occasional reboots help clear memory leaks over months of uptime. Also, worn MicroSD cards should have OS refreshed every few years. Attached mass storage in RAID configurations provides redundancy.