Considering Switching from PC to Mac - Huge Photo Library to import

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by redman042, Oct 25, 2015.

  1. redman042 macrumors 68030


    Jun 13, 2008
    I'm thinking about switching my household from PC to Mac. The main reason is I want an easier way to manage, back up, and access our photos from anywhere, and we have a huge library dating back to 2006.

    When it comes to mobile devices, we've been all-Apple since the iPhone 3G. But for PCs, we've only used Windows machines. I have just a small amount of Mac experience (I did manage to update OSX on my father-in-law's 8 year old iMac). But I'm tech-savvy and a fast learner.

    We have about 700 GB of photos and videos on our PC including RAW, JPG, and 1080p videos. Even some Flip Cam videos from 2008 of my daughter when she was newborn. I've used Adobe Lightroom for the last couple of years to catalog and edit photos, but I'm ready to move to something more streamlined. Lightroom's UI is crazy complicated and the program bogs down even fast machines. It's just too much.

    So my tentative plan is to buy a MacBook Pro, move all the photos to it, get a 1 TB iCloud Plan, sync them all up, share it to a family folder so that my wife can access it from her devices, and then make the MacBook our daily driver. I know what level of functionality iPhoto has, and that higher level photo editing needs to come from third party software.

    Questions that I have:
    • Is iCloud mature enough to reliably handle 700 GB of photos and videos of various formats dating back to 2006? I will of course keep a local backup.
    • Can I easily share the entire library with my wife, who has a separate iCloud account for her iPhone and iPad?
    • The MacBook I purchase will likely have a 256 GB SSD. So I'd need an external drive to host the full set of photos until they sync up, and then I'd like to just be able to use the MacBook after that and keep the external drive unplugged. So I need the library to reside on the MacBook's SSD and iCloud to manage the storage of high res photos on the drive vs thumbnails to maintain some free space. But I also want to back up the entire library locally once a month. How do I swing that?
    • For more complex photo editing jobs beyond the capability of iPhoto, can I get third party photo editing software that syncs seamlessly with the iCloud library?
  2. chaosbunny macrumors 68000


    Mar 11, 2005
    down to earth, far away from any clouds
    Don't do it. At this point Windows offers better hardware and software. After 15 years with OS X I know my next computer will be a Windows machine and I wouldn't advise anyone who has used Windows until now to switch. Since Apple updates OS X once a year the system gets worse and worse. I encounter the same bugs on many different machines since 1-2 OS versions, but cleary it's more important to put in more emojis than to prevent finder from unexpectedly quitting or fixing unreliable network connections, etc. etc.

    Don't use iCloud for your photos. Just recently a friend came to me with problems all over the place with her photo library. She synced everything with iCloud and suddenly every picture was there 3-4 times! Her photo library suddenly was 90 gb instead of 30 gb. Just imagine this happening with your 700 gb. Luckily I found a program that detects duplicates and removes them automatically.

    I would stay with lightroom but if you want to try something new there are plenty of alternatives with Windows.

    If you still insist on getting a macbook, look at the refurbished section of the Apple website. You can find great deals there that come scratch-free, cleaned as new, fully serviced and with full warranty. Since these are tested by an Apple technician you are even less likely to get a faulty machine vs. buying regularly. And you end up paying for the machines what they are actually worth.
  3. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    Just buy some networked attached storage and put all your photos on that then everyone can access them and add to them take them off and edit etc this will be accessable by all of you on any device anywhere you have an internet connection basically it is your own personal cloud storage. Something like this.,k:wd+my+cloud

    If you still want to go mac then hey why not there are numerous cheap simpler editing apps for it, it comes with photos for the simplest of editing and there are others on the app store pixelmator and the like for £25 or less.
  4. redman042 thread starter macrumors 68030


    Jun 13, 2008
    Thanks for the input. I have thought about network attached storage. That would achieve part of my goal. The other part is to have a unified way to search, categorize, and manage photos at home or on the road, and have this cover every digital photo and video in our library, not just the ones we take with our iOS devices. The iOS Photos app has gotten quite good. The Photos app on the Mac looks to be at the same level. But I'm not sure about iCloud Photos yet, or Mac OS. I've heard about the Mac OS bugs, but I've also heard that, much like iOS, Apple does things in cycles, and that they are getting better about stability releases. iOS 9.1 is much better than iOS 8 - maybe the same will be true for El Capitan.

    The thing is, there is no perfect alternative. I first looked at Windows 10 and OneDrive as my solution for syncing up our entire photo library. But I'm reading about a host of problems there too - even the risk that all my photos will disappear. Unless Microsoft's solution is radically better than Apple's, I might as well go Apple and have a unified experience across all my devices (because I'm not interested in Windows Phone).

    Maybe I'll give El Capitan a few months in the wild and ask people for feedback before I pull the trigger one way or the other.

    Also, I'm definitely looking at Mac refurbs. Sounds like I can save about $200 over new.
  5. marc55 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 14, 2011
    You have a lot of Pic's there!

    I don't know the answers to your photo questions, as we only have about 20GB in Pic's.

    We purchased our first MBPr this past March, and all I can say is we really enjoy it, especially the integration with our other Apple devices.

    Not sure why the other poster indicates Apple OS's get worse and worse, as El Capitan is better than Yosemite.

    We still have our XPS-15, but I really can't stand using it now, especially after getting used to the track pad on the Macbook; there's no other track pad like an Apple. We've had less issues with our MBPr, than the XPS-15, and they are both mid 2013 models.

    Easy learning curve, and you can learn a lot from MacRumors, so enjoy the transition.
  6. redman042 thread starter macrumors 68030


    Jun 13, 2008
    Have you imported all your existing photos to iCloud, and did that go okay?
  7. monokakata macrumors 68000


    May 8, 2008
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    I wonder whether you aren't giving up on Lightroom too quickly. UI issues aside (largely a matter of personal preference, I think) the newer versions are quite fast. I run LR CC on a retina iMac and it's very good. I run LR 6 (non-CC) on a 15" Macbook Pro and have not felt that I'm giving up much except screen real estate.

    If your LR is old, you might consider updating it.

    On a more general level, when switching OSs, staying with the same software to the extent possible seems like a good idea to me. Once you're in LR, you're in LR (I think) regardless of being on Windows or OS X. Thus at least in the short term, only one new thing to master.
  8. pjfan macrumors regular

    May 24, 2009
    Columbus OH
    Welcome to the OS X world! (potentially)

    For years, across Windows and OS X, I struggled to easily and cleanly backup all our photos. In fact, many photos are simply gone from the Windows world for me prior to converting to Apple products (pre-smartphone with cameras and pre-kids, so I don't really care). Anyhow, I can honestly say, since proper iCloud (three years now?), everything has been terrific for us.

    We have 150 GB of photos or so synced to iCloud and locally on a Mini plus a TimeCapsule. My main reason to post to you is to suggest that you log into your account, and check out uploading the photos before ever getting your laptop. I believe you can export your photos from LightRoom to your HDD, then push to via the "Upload" in the top right corner of the Photos tab. From there, you can setup your PhotoStream and have a pretty clear idea how it might all work on iOS + iCloud. If you're happy with that use case, continue paying for iCloud Storage, pickup your rMBP (if house computer, 15" w/out dGPU is very nice if it'll remain relatively stationary and photos is the most extensive use case). After opening Photo App, you will move your "Photo Library" to an external HDD, or go with 512 GB SSD and have it locally stored.

    My iCloud user experience has been flawless... much better than Forklift + Amazon Backup, or other weird things I tried to pull off with remote hosts previously... it was too cumbersome, and frankly, I felt too busy to fuss with it. I simply didn't care enough or don't get enough joy about "managing" photos like some people. I do, however, get joy out of watching the photos on the TV via Apple TV, and knowing it's remotely and locally backed up.

    Personally, the one change I'm doing moving forward is that I'll likely purchase 512 GB SSD in each new OS X device, so I can have all photos on each product locally. The price for storage and convenience of having it locally is too appealing. The wife and I miss our 24" iMac when it's time to edit or even simply look at photos -- I wouldn't be surprised if we displace the Mini with a retina iMac in a couple years.
  9. darknyt macrumors 6502a

    Sep 17, 2009
    DO NOT DO IT! (IMHO). I'm actually considering going the OTHER WAY back to PC as much as I conceptually LOVE the iPhoto/Photos idea and basic implementation.

    I have been using Mac and PC for a long time, at least 8 years or so together. My Mac experience has not been bad, but I always left the heavy lifting to my PC.

    Answers to your questions:
    1. NO - I have a 500 gb library with about 150k pics/videos. Photos app and ESPECIALLY iCloud Photo Library (ICPL) just CHOKES, and I mean completely chokes on a library my size. It has literally just stopped grabbing photos from my new iPhones for the past couple weeks. No rhyme or reason, both 6s/6s Plus phones worked the first week or so, then just stopped. I was actually on a call with an Apple support (second level whatever that is, stumped first one too) recently and they just threw up their hands basically on iCloud and why my iPhone pictures stopped uploading to ICPL - they STILL all upload to Photostream just fine, so it's definitely an ICPL issue. They as much admitted that ICPL is NOT very mature and still new and just to give it a few weeks and see what happens. Literally, that was their suggestion. Wait and see. Let's not even talk about my trial run of using ICPL on my 128gb Air 2 with optimize storage (Photos crashes, can't get new photos, waaay laggy)

    2. NO - in fact Apple has made this basically impossible by completely firewalling the ICPL from another iCloud account. The only minor concession they allow is a shared folder. That you would have to manually put pictures in. Completely defeats the entire ICPL idea of seamless photo management. It's just one more symptom of the completely broken Family Sharing concept they tried to implement.

    3. Not sure - but that sounds WAY more complicated than Apple typically allows - it sounds like that would just make ICPL angry, lol.

    4. Can't comment specifically, but to say that they have not made syncing anything with ICPL very intuitive or easy. Could be wrong.
  10. iphonedude2008 macrumors 65816


    Nov 7, 2009
    Irvine, CA
    Yes. For a large photo library, stay with Windows. Apple has been abandoning photo professionals, so you'll end up using third party apps that are probably poor applications.
  11. darknyt macrumors 6502a

    Sep 17, 2009
    I wondered with the release of iCloud 5 for Windows if I could try to take a run at ICPL from the windows side. My Photos/ ICPL is so broken, I couldn't even manually sync up my pictures from iPhones to my 27" iMac. Had to save them to my PC to be sure I kept them. Maybe I could upload all those pictures on my Windows box - would it jack up the formatting or metadata to do it that way I wonder?

    Good thing I like redundancy. Have the typical crash plan/time machine backups but also have everything uploaded to Google Photos, Amazon, One Drive, and Flickr.
  12. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    Yeah refurbs are good and $200 is a low estimate you can sometimes save a lot more than that.
  13. AFEPPL macrumors 68030


    Sep 30, 2014
    I also concur, don't put all those photos into iPhoto it would be a complete nightmare.
    I'd also question the move to OS X, at the moment it not what id call stable.. better the devil you know!
  14. redman042 thread starter macrumors 68030


    Jun 13, 2008
    Thanks for all the input. Sounds like there is no good choice, except to NOT move my photo library to the cloud at this time. It appears that no one's cloud offering is ready to reliably handle that volume of photos/videos. And I don't want to take too much risk that I will run into issues that require hours of troubleshooting or will lose photos.

    Perhaps I will just get a Network Attached Storage box and host them from home.

    In a year or so, perhaps both Microsoft and Apple will advance their cloud offerings to a mature enough level that I can rely on it for this purpose. I'm looking forward to that, because I have a busy life and I love the concept of photo access, management, and backup being seamless and fast across all my devices. We have all Apple devices so that's the way I'd like to go if all else is equal.
  15. carlsson macrumors 6502


    Jul 18, 2001
    Seems to be a lot of Nay-sayers here...? :eek:

    I have used Mac since 1987 and I feel we are in an extremely positive period at the moment. More stable than ever if you ask me. I think Apple made a mistake when they dropped the Aperture app, and I'm not 100% satisfied with all their decisions, but there is no alternative reallly. I'm working with Windows users all day and see all the strange problems they have... :confused:

    However, I only have 300 GB (38.000 pictures) of pictures in the Photos app, and 120 GB in Lightroom. I do not have photos in iCloud, but I am very satisfied with the Photos app!

  16. redman042 thread starter macrumors 68030


    Jun 13, 2008
    I figure there are a lot of very satisfied Mac users out there that just haven't posted here. Would love to hear from one who has managed a photo library my size through iCloud, but I suspect it's still a little early to attempt that. I know there have been some reliability issues with recent releases of OSX just like there was with iOS 8, but now Apple is into stability releases and my understanding is that things have gotten better. To put things in perspective, Windows is going through the same thing. Windows 10 has many nice innovations but I upgraded right away and have suffered through some bugs, and this is on Microsoft's own hardware (Surface Pro 3). It's getting better with every weekly patch, and it was never horrible, but it just goes to show that as Apple, Microsoft, and others keep adding complexity to their OS's, they have to take Quality Control to new levels to keep up. It's hard.

    I believe I will end up on a Mac soon enough. I'm looking forward to iCloud reaching very high levels of robustness. Apple is still building server facilities so I'm sure it will get there.
  17. englishman macrumors 6502a


    Nov 6, 2006
    OP - if you haven't already, try Apple discussions for help too as there are also some very knowledgeable folks there.
  18. AFEPPL macrumors 68030


    Sep 30, 2014
    I think a lot of us would disagree with you on that one.
    Lots of bugs in OSX right now and El Capt has got the lowest rating thus far of any release.

    Im so bored of the kernel panics and crashes..
  19. pjfan macrumors regular

    May 24, 2009
    Columbus OH
    Fair assessment. I hope you find a solid option soon that will allow for offsite storage as well as local.

    Just a note, I don't see the harm in uploading your library to any cloud service to try it out. It wouldn't be a sync with your LightRoom, it would just be an upload... so you can push the photos from your current machine to iCloud, and then see how it works on your iOS platform. Then you'll have 120 GB of remote stored, plus your local environment, plus Web Based access to iCloud. I don't see any harm in it, or even effort (unless the upload times out).

    Not arguing against any other view points here, but pushing your photos to some remote host is a solid strategy to ensure your photos and videos are protected from local disasters. Dropbox, iCloud, OneDrive, or something else ought to be solid. I personally like iCloud.

    Best of luck.
  20. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    There seems to be lots of advice based on personal experiences here and of course, some are diametrically opposed to one another. I'll add a few peanuts to the gallery -

    Define your goals (you did with needing storage and ease of access).
    Investigate software and services (you kind of sorta fell short here)
    Investigate the right hardware (this is dependent on software and services)

    There are several ways you could handle your situation but please don't forget you should really keep more than one
    copy of each file in different places and preferably two (call it disaster recovery in case your most used source fails).

    If you opt for network attached storage, investigate the makers and their offerings which often come with apps these days that allow for FTP, possibly simple sharing over the Internet (with port forwarding on your router) etc. Perhaps the best two to start with would be Synology and QNAP which are mature product lines. A visit to Smallnetbuilder site would be in order to see reviews, join the forums and explain your desire to access media files from your IOS devices. You should get good advice there.

    Home machine share - Some people make a master storage of files available from one machine at home (PC or MAC). I don't recommend a laptop if you can simply opt for something like a Mac Mini with extra storage. Some folks go a step further and add "server" software to get more fine tooth tuning done for this purpose of creating shares and so forth.

    Cloud - yep, lots of people love the cloud and some people have horrible time with the cloud services offered. If you opt for cloud services, you need to thoroughly think about how to keep it in order, who can contribute, who can delete or modify etc. As well, some form of software would be handy to look for duplicates (this is good in any case) or if you are savvy, create a script that can do this for you.

    My guess is you might be happy with cloud services if you make sure it is done right, you make a back up of the cloud services that reside elsewhere (perhaps a large drive at home) and be sure that all your devices can easily access the service. The alternative (more to my liking though more work to set up) is to go the NAS or Server route I like to control everything I can to ensure consistent results and to get in deep when any issue comes up. When it comes to NAS, don't bother with hanging a drive on a router. Very few have gotten consistent results of always accessible from remote locations.

    As for the Macbook, not a great choice if you plan to be mobile with it if you are considering it the master storage location for your files. Again, something like a Mac Mini would better serve as a media storage device plus it could also be your master source for iTunes.
  21. ignatius345 macrumors 68000

    Aug 20, 2015
    I'm syncing about 15,000 photos and it's perfect. All of them are available on my phone, Macbook and Mac Mini, and through It took a few days to get them all up there, for sure -- but now everything is available everywere, and even my very storage-limited phone and laptop allow for browsing of my entire archive of photos. I have no idea how your friend's import/upload process got screwed up.

    Yeah, Windows is amazing and has no bugs at all. :rolleyes: Have fun using it!
  22. darknyt macrumors 6502a

    Sep 17, 2009
    Agree on backup comments, was commenting just addressing OP questions on iCloud for ease of sharing.

    Backing up is a whole other discussion and not be ignored.
  23. chaosbunny macrumors 68000


    Mar 11, 2005
    down to earth, far away from any clouds
    I have no Idea how that happened either. That friend is not very tech savvy, but that's the point of it. It's supposed to just work, which it simply does not. Personally I don't see the benefit. I don't need to view my 200 gb of Photos on my mobile phone all the time. It's simply not worth the hassle for me. I prefer to backup locally and once every week sync the most important data with an offsite external hd. To each their own. ;)

    Well, for me the update from Windwos 7 to Windows 10 went smoother than from 10.8 to 10.9 and from 10.9 to 10.10. Networking between multiple Macs (I have 5 that I use regularly) gets more and more unstable. Sometimes it works, sometimes I need to restart the Computer to make it work. Was not like this with 10.8 and previous versions. 10.9 introduced a nasty sleep bug due to some discoveryd process being changed. All of my Macs would wake up from sleep every 2 hours. That didn't get fixed until 10.9.3 or 10.9.4! And now guess what, I updated to 10.10 on my old 2008 mbp to try it out and that same sleep bug is back again! Is it that difficult to get the power safe mode right on the very limited different hardware configurations that Apple supports? Then there is finder unexpectedly quitting and restarting from time to time. And since Mail always tells me I'm getting 5768 new messages when I get only 1 since 10.7 or 10.8 and since it sometimes looses the connection to the server until I restart it I switched to Thunderbird. This doesn't happen on only 1 machine but on 3 Macs I have that support he latest OS.

    Now maybe you will tell me to do a clean reinstall with each OS update, like some Mac users do. Well, I have quite many productivity apps installed and configured, a clean reinstall would take 1-2 days. I don't have time for that very year. I remember when Mac users used to make fun of Windows users because the had to reinstall Windows XP every 2 years. Well I guess thanks to the amazing advancement of Mac OS X you now have to do a reinstall every year if you own a Mac.

    I'm simply tired of fighting against the same OS X bugs over and over again and the more and more limited hardware. At least with Windows I can get a Machine with the specs I want.

    And just because I'm fed up with OS X does not mean I believe Windows has no bugs at all. ;)
  24. ignatius345, Oct 29, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2015

    ignatius345 macrumors 68000

    Aug 20, 2015
    OK, but the original poster specifically wanted to "access our photos from anywhere", and iCloud Photos does that very well. As for your friend, I obviously have no idea what went wrong, but it worked quite smoothly for me and continues to work as expected (possibly she just screwed something up?) I'm sure I'm not the only one either.

    Huh. You're using a 7 year-old computer and trying to install a very recent OS built for newer hardware and you're running into issues? You can't possibly be surprised by that, on OS X or Windows. My 2011 Mini also comes up with missing features because it's got a previous version of Bluetooth and some aging integrated graphics card that wasn't the strongest to begin with. You won't catch me in 2018 getting all bent out of shape because it's all buggy and weird running OS X 10.13 or whatever. I'll have most likely replaced it well before then or stopped trying to make it keep up with OS versions 7 years newer than it.

    I don't know what to tell you, man. I have a 2011 Mac Mini that I'd been updating (not a clean install, just updates) for several major OS versions now, and it's been fine. Bugs here and there? Sure, but nothing show-stopping and I'm certain nothing you wouldn't also see on Windows, if not worse. I finally bit the bullet and did a clean OS install with El Capitan because it was all getting a little sluggish and this isn't the fastest machine around by any means. Backed up, wiped the drive, installed, migrated my three user accounts back in from my Time Machine backup -- within a couple hours I was up and running. Not "1-2 days". Photos (to get back on topic) decided to re-upload everything, which was a little lame, but I left it alone for the weekend and then it too was exactly as it had been before the update. Again, it "just worked".

    I used Windows for a few years at my job and trust me, it SUCKED as an experience. My coworker right now is still on Windows and you wouldn't believe the networking and other crap that comes up here, along with just the general day-to-day suckiness of the Windows interface. And this is in a corporate, fully supported environment.

    This is the one thing I agree with you on. Apple's approach to hardware has pretty much always been "my way or the highway". Myself, I'm willing to accept that because there's such a tight integration of hardware and software -- compared with Windows where you're maybe three clicks away from some grotty old DOS-era control panel.
  25. chaosbunny macrumors 68000


    Mar 11, 2005
    down to earth, far away from any clouds
    Thank you for your long reply.

    As for the 2008 MacBook Pro running El Capitan, well, El Capitan is officially supported by Apple on that machine. And I'd never expect some new feature like metal to work! But come on, sleep should work on a supported machine. Especially since that same bug was there in 10.10.0-3 and only disappeared in 10.10.4! I'd say that sleep is a pretty basic function for a computer.

    I use the old MacBook Pro to test the new OS before I update my main work machines (2010 Mac Pro, 2013 15" rMBP) so I don't run into unexpected issues. I guess I will not update to El Capitan anytime soon since the 2 newer Macs also had the same sleep problem under 10.10.0-3 that the 2008 mbp now has again with 10.11.

    As for the clean reinstall, my Application folder has 103gb - and that's mostly not games ;)
    There is a lot to be configured.

    Luckily I'm not in a hurry to get a new computer anytime soon, both the 2010 Mac Pro and the 2013 rMBP will last for a couple of years. Who knows what is available then. I just feel like it's time to try someting new, my first Mac was a G4 Cube back in 2001 - I still have it but the power supply is broken. Looks nice on a shelf though.

    Windows 10 is running fast and stable on my Mac Pro - almost better than OS X. Maybe you are right and I'll come back screaming for mercy after I seriously start working with Windows. Like another poster said, better the devil you know ...

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