iCloud.com photo library beware

Discussion in 'Apple Music, Apple Pay, iCloud, Apple Services' started by reese2147, Oct 22, 2014.

  1. reese2147 macrumors regular

    Dec 2, 2013
    I've spent the past couple days messing around with iCloud photo library and discovered an oddity this morning.

    When I configured iCloud photo library on my phone, I set it up with the "download and keep originals" option. I assumed that when my photos were uploaded to iCloud, they would be uploaded at their full resolution, which would then allow me to pull photos from the iCloud.com website (Since there is no OSX app for photos)...... I assumed wrong...

    I tested this by taking a photo with my phone (5 minutes ago) and ensuring it was uploaded to both iCloud and OneDrive. I then went on the iCloud and OneDrive websites and downloaded the photo to my computer.

    I was shocked to see that the photo in iCloud downloaded at 820kb with a resolution of 2048x1536. The EXACT SAME photo downloaded from my OneDrive account comes in at 1,796KB and a resolution of 3264x2448

    Morale of the story?? It appears that iCloud is NOT storing full resolution photos (unless I am totally doing something wrong). Go ahead and test for yourself!
  2. impaler macrumors 6502

    Feb 20, 2006
  3. reese2147 thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 2, 2013
    True, but I wholeheartedly do not think this is a "beta" issue..... this is basic functionality that should not be "wrong" within their cloud service.
  4. lemieuxfan67 macrumors member

    Sep 26, 2012
    I have not tried the service yet, but it's possible that just the icloud.com site is just not showing the full resolution?
  5. hunkim macrumors newbie

    Oct 1, 2014
    I sorta agree - I'm assuming web is only rendering reduced sizes to minimize a huge download of a page(s) - and the when iCloud Photo goes to 'production' they may have like 3 buttons that has different download size options?
  6. Travisimo macrumors 6502a

    Dec 22, 2009
    I have noticed this as well. I turned on iCloud Photo Library yesterday and it finally finished uploading my photos and videos today (I have about 500 on the phone). Now I am able to login to iCloud.com and see my photos, but like you said, when I click the download icon, it downloads a smaller version, not the full-resolution photo. And I too have enabled the toggle to keep full resolution photos on the phone, but that shouldn't matter because full resolution photos are supposed to be uploaded to iCloud.com either way! The toggle is just there to save space on your phone.

    I don't know what exactly is going on, but it could be one of the following:

    1) Maybe by setting the toggle to keep full resolution photos on the phone, it only uploads optimized versions on iCloud.com? This doesn't make sense, however, as iCloud Photo Library is advertised as automatically uploading full resolution photos and videos and uses your storage space. The toggle is just there to keep optimized photos on your PHONE so that it saves you space on your device. NOT LIKELY.

    2) Maybe iCloud.com is just showing you and allowing you to download a smaller version? Since iCloud.com photos just appeared and is in beta form, it just doesn't yet have the capability to download at full resolution? This doesn't make a whole lot of sense either since the version that is downloaded from iCloud.com isn't THAT much smaller than full resolution. And if it IS just optimizing when downloading, then how can we confirm whether the full resolution photo is actually on iCloud.com or not?

    TEST: Try logging into iCloud Photo Library from another iOS and sync the full resolution photos to that device from iCloud. Then have that device auto upload to Dropbox or Google and see what the resolution is. If it's full resolution, then we'll know that iCloud is storing the full res version but somehow iCloud.com is just not downloading them. If the newly synced photo is lower resolution too, then we'll know that iCloud is downsizing them before re-syncing with another device. I haven't tried this myself, but it would be a good test! (hint, hint)

    3) Perhaps the toggle on the iOS device is broken and the photo is optimizing the photos before uploading them to iCloud? This doesn't seem too likely either since it would be a pretty big blunder and is fundamentally opposed to how it's supposed to work. I wonder what would happen if you set the toggle to optimize on the phone and then take some new photos?

    One thing is for certain: iCloud Photo Library is definitely in BETA form and should not be relied upon as a sole means of backup or syncing. I continually watched my upload and it would often get stuck or start over (it seemed). Sometimes it would say it's down to a certain number and then it would jump back up again. It finally did get them all backed up, but it wasn't straight-forward at all. I'm wondering if it backs up a smaller version first, and then starts again and uploads a higher resolution version? Again, that doesn't make much sense since it would be unnecessarily using iCloud storage space.

    I'll continue to use Google+ backup for now as that works great (though I have to open the app frequently to get it to do the backups). But at least it uploads at full resolution and there's a lot more I can do on Google+ on the web than I can iCloud.com Photos. But then again, Apple is just getting started, so they have a lot of work ahead of them.


    Or maybe that's the only size they'll ever be able to be downloaded at from iCloud.com. Remember, early next year we'll get the Photos app and the full resolution photos will likely automatically download and sync to the computer at that time. Maybe the limitation on iCloud.com is on purpose since it is web-based? At any rate, it makes iCloud Photo Library both risky and limited at this time, so I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who isn't willing to be a tester.
  7. hunkim macrumors newbie

    Oct 1, 2014
    I just tested:

    1. emailed iphone (original) image, 2448x2448 1.54mb
    2. downloaded icloud image, 1774x1774 922kb
    3. emailed ipad (sync'd via icloud photo beta) image, 2448x2448 1.54mb

    ...so icloud.com *is* storing the high res, it's just not available for download yet (at least in full/original size).
  8. Travisimo macrumors 6502a

    Dec 22, 2009
    The other question I have is what happens when you DO turn on the toggle to optimize the photos on your device and you are also using a 3rd party backup solution?

    For example, let's say I have iCloud Photo Library turned on with the option to optimize storage on my phone. And let's say I am also using Dropbox or Google+ for redundant backup (I use Google, for example). I obviously want the full resolution photos to be backed up to both services, but at what point does Apple reduce the size of my photos on the phone? I assume it's during the auto-backup that occurs when you are connected to WIFI. But that's also when Google+ and Dropbox are set to do their backups and sometimes I have to open those apps to begin their backup.

    So what will auto upload to Dropbox or Google - the optimized version or the full version? I definitely see this as a conflict and a deterrent for anyone who wants to use a 3rd party service. For this user, it's probably better to turn off iCloud Photo Library and just do a manual sync to Lightroom on the computer as well as the auto backup to Dropbox or Google.

    My current workflow (before turning on iCloud Photo Library) was to take photos for a few weeks (using Google+ auto backup), and then plug my phone into my computer to import photos and videos to Lightroom. I turned on iCloud Photo Library yesterday, but I am having seconds thoughts now. I definitely don't want lower resolution photos to sync to Google OR to import into Lightroom when I plug my phone in. So I *have* to leave the toggle OFF that optimizes the photos on the phone. But if I leave full resolution photos turned on, then my phone will fill up and I cannot delete them after I import to Lightroom (since it'll also delete from iCloud, which I guess is okay if I'm just using it as a temporary backup until I import them into Lightroom).

    So yeah, I'll probably just go back to my old way: take photos with Google+ auto backup turned on, then plug into my computer to import into Lightroom periodically, and then delete all of those photos/videos off of my phone once they're on the computer.


    Good deal. I also noticed that videos that are uploaded to iCloud only show up in very low resolution when played back in the browser (with no options for higher quality like you can on Google+). When I download the video, it's also a much lower quality video (and 720p vs 1080p that uploaded).

    It's probably just a way for Apple to manage the bandwidth right now via the web client. Once the Photos app is completed early next year, it will likely be all worked out. Until then, I don't really see an advantage to using iCloud Photo Library unless you are willing to deal with all of these limitations.
  9. shotts56 macrumors 6502

    Sep 23, 2008
    You would hope so, but based on everything else that they seem to have misjudged over the past few months, I don't share your confidence.
  10. reese2147 thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 2, 2013
    Respectfully, this statement is incorrect. iCloud.com is **not** storing high res files. iCloud is **pushing** hi res files to your other devices (in this case an iPad) from your iphone but the hi res file (as of right now) is NOT downloading from iCloud.com, hence iCloud.com is not storing the hi res file.


    100% agree. iWork on iCloud.com has been in "beta" for well over a year now. Does anyone really want to have faith in photos "beta"?

    When I go to buy a car, I am not sold a car in "beta" form. I expect it to work and function as advertised. This is where the disconnect is with Apple as of late. They ramp up their advertising around new OS/features, slap a "beta" tag on it and then begin to sell said products 100% knowing they are not ready for use (by their standards) to the public.

    I'm sure everyone would agree to waiting another 1-4 months for the bugs to be worked out prior to their products being released to the public.
  11. DENZIE macrumors regular


    Apr 19, 2007
    I know this is an old thread but I just went to download a photo from iCloud.com and the file size was 1.38MB.

    When I emailed the full res version from my iPhone to myself it was also 1.38MB.

    So I think iCloud is now downloading full res versions. At least it is for me.
  12. jg321 macrumors 6502

    Aug 29, 2012
    Hmm not quite. The smaller ones I tested with did come at the full size. A 2.8MB one however downloaded at 2.3MB.
  13. Airslide macrumors newbie

    Nov 5, 2014
    If you think the iPhone is pushing directly to the iPad, hunkim could probably test that by turning off the iPad, taking a photo with the iPhone (and ensuring it pops up on iCloud.com), turning off the iPhone and turning the iPad back on to email the photo. If it is still emailing a hi-res photo, it's doubtful that iCloud Photo Library is only storing lower-res versions.

    More likely, Apple *is* storing the hi-res versions of the photos in iCloud and iCloud.com is simply not supplying them for download at this time. Since resizing the photo to save bandwidth would take processing time on their end, they may have decided to also store one or more lower quality versions in iCloud as well, and iCloud.com may be fetching these for preview and by virtue of being incomplete is not yet setup to fetch the originals for download.

    That's all theory of course, don't quote me.
  14. Peepo macrumors 6502a

    Jun 18, 2009
    I just checked some pictures I downloaded on 17rh from iCloud and they are 3264x2448
  15. Abazigal macrumors G3


    Jul 18, 2011
    Also playing around with icloud photo library.

    Emailed a photo to myself, the highest resolution I could send was 1.7 mb (which is likely the original size of the photo). The same image I downloaded from icloud is also 1.7 mb.

    Seems okay. Just that the photos seem to be taking forever to upload. :p

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