iCloud (Photo Library, Drive, Mail) phantom files taking up space.

Discussion in 'Apple Music, Apple Pay, iCloud, Apple Services' started by spacewolf, Oct 3, 2015.

  1. spacewolf macrumors member

    Sep 25, 2011
    I've had this problem for some months where iCloud photo library has no photos yet it takes up about 49MB Ive recently reported this to Apple support and I think they're giving me the run around. Now Mail and Drive is doing the same thing and photo library space is growing with zero files in all of these.

    They have my iCloud account in troubleshooting mode currently and was supposed to get back to me yesterday which they didn't and I have left messages for the past 3 days asking the person to contact me back. I was initially told it was normal that this space is taken by documents and data (11.1mb) which is absolute BS and then they told me they could see files but couldn't delete them in photo library. They're basically useless and claim I can't escalate this any further.

    I have tried the time and date trick without any luck also.

    What else can be done? How can I clear out these phantom files taking up iCloud storage space?
  2. verdi1987 macrumors regular

    Jun 19, 2010
    This problem resurfaced for me recently. I think I know one of the causes and also have a partial solution.

    The first time I encountered this bug, I had to completely disable iCloud Photo Library for 30 days, which is quite a ridiculous solution. This issue occurred again over the weekend.

    How it may be triggered: I think this sometimes occurs if you forcibly delete photos/videos before the sync operation has completed. So say you have a lot of photos or large videos that are in the process of being uploaded to iCloud, and you delete them (and then forcibly delete them from the Deleted album) before the sync operation has completed. They get flagged as deleted, and iCloud marks them as deleted, but they end up in limbo where they are not visible but yet take up iCloud storage. If you browse ~/Library/Pictures/Photos\ Library.photoslibrary/Masters, they are still there. If you start a new Photos Library from scratch, they are downloaded again but are not visible except from ~/Library/Pictures/Photos\ Library.photoslibrary/Masters.

    One workaround: You can re-add the phantom photos to Photos Library from ~/Library/Pictures/Photos\ Library.photoslibrary/Masters. Photos will ask if you want to re-import the duplicates. Confirm that you do, and they will be added back to the library, but duplicate copies of the files will not be created. You can now properly delete the photos and videos. A caveat of this is if the photo is a burst photo, Photos will not re-import the file. In my case, I have about a hundred burst photos in this phantom state that I cannot re-import and thus cannot delete. I tried removing the EXIF data and re-importing them, but Photos then saw them as new files and copied them to the database.

    It seems that letting Photos auto-purge deleted items after 30 days instead of forcibly emptying the Deleted album minimizes the occurrence of this issue.

    I have given up on iCloud Photo Library and am now using Google Photos.
  3. FireWaterEarthAir macrumors member


    Jun 8, 2015
    Cali <3
    I haven't been able to backup to iCloud in over 6 weeks. I've had a case open with Apple about it for around a month now, and they can't or haven't fixed it yet. Originally I had that phantom file taking up space, but now it shows that I have over 18GB of free space. It looks like my backup is around 14GB, so there shouldn't be a space problem.

    The backup begins, runs for a few minutes, and then times out and says that it cannot backup.

    I've left two messages with the rep that is supposed to be handling my case, but no call back in over a week.

    Hey Apple: it's better to do fewer things well than many things poorly.

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