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zachlegomaniac

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Sep 20, 2008
806
370
I have a 2014 Mac mini that is slowing greatly and I'm afraid it doesn't have much life left in it. It has a photo library of 40,000 photos spanning 20 years that my wife and I shared up until 2020. At that time we each purchased a MacBook Air and used our individual iCloud accounts to start our own photo libraries.

For us, in a perfect world, we would just be able to share a single photo library. Obviously, this cannot be done. I would like to make sure that one (or both) of us has our old photos saved in the cloud and on an external drive. Neither of us has enough space to store it locally on our MBA's.

Right now I have the Photos app open on the Mac Mini. It says it is uploading the library, but it doesn't seem to be making progress (after a couple hours). I don't know why it's uploading, however, because we only have 200 GB of iCloud space via an iCloud One Family plan (not enough space). It just started on its own when I started up the Mini for the first time in a year.

Does anyone have suggestions as to the least painful (preferably not hugely expensive) way to preserve these photos? I'd love to have them all stored to iCloud. $30/month for the 2 TB iCloud plan doesn't sound appealing (especially since we don't use Apple News, Fitness, or TV+), but maybe I should just suck it up and spend another $10/month?

Any suggestions would be welcome.

Thank you.
 

Hunter5117

macrumors 6502a
Mar 17, 2010
569
401
I will tell you how I do it, maybe some of that will help. I have the 2tb iCloud+ plan, I do use most of the other services and I share part of the storage with the family. My photos library is about 400gb of that. I also keep a full copy (aka not optimized storage) on my Mac Pro and on my main MBP that has a 1tb ssd and enough room for the photos.

My Mac Pro backs up the photos library nightly to an external "data" drive and then that data drive gets mirrored to a "backup" drive immediately after, both of these events happen around 2am using Carbon Copy Cloner.

So counting the iCloud storage, I have 5 separate copies of all my photos. Everything syncs through iCloud so whenever I snap a picture with my phone, or add new photos from my camera (yep, still got one of those), by the next morning every device is up to date.

iCloud storage is relatively cheap, 2tb alone is $10. Photos from 20 years ago are priceless. Yes, suck it up and get the iCloud storage plus at least 1 or 2 local physical drives.
 

NoBoMac

Moderator
Staff member
Jul 1, 2014
6,014
4,630
Similar to above, minus iCloud.

Current library is kept on an external SSD. Once a quarter I copy via rsync command the master to multiple (5) other drives. Smart album in Photos to give me an album of all the new photos from last three months that I can easily export and then upload to my Amazon Drive account. Not doing more often backups as the library is only mounted when actually needing it and not saving lots of pictures over the course of a quarter. If I did save "important" pictures, I'd make a backup immediately after done post-processing.

Bit the bullet years ago to gradually (over several weeks) copy from the library to Amazon and then just deal with the deltas.

Now have the flexibility to start a whole new library (be it local or on external), if needed/wanted, and have the original library there for archive purposes. Or just keep using the original until it becomes unwieldy.
 

Hunter5117

macrumors 6502a
Mar 17, 2010
569
401
Right now I have the Photos app open on the Mac Mini. It says it is uploading the library, but it doesn't seem to be making progress (after a couple hours). I don't know why it's uploading, however, because we only have 200 GB of iCloud space via an iCloud One Family plan (not enough space). It just started on its own when I started up the Mini for the first time in a year.
Something I did not mention but uploading to iCloud is painfully slow the first time. If I remember when I first switched over from using Aperture to photos, my library was smaller than yours by a bit and it took at least 2 days for it to sync.
 

HDFan

Contributor
Jun 30, 2007
6,971
3,080
Does anyone have suggestions as to the least painful (preferably not hugely expensive) way to preserve these photos?

If you care about your photos you need to implement a 3-2-1 backup strategy. Note that:

1. iCloud is not considered one of the backups as it is not a backup/restore service as such. A photo removed from iCloud accidentally is gone forever after 30 days. Cloud backup services can be configured to keep deleted photos forever.

2. Backblaze and Crashplan offer affordable ($70/$120 a year) on-line unlimited backup services. Backblaze backups are relatively fast, Crashplan uploads are glacially slow. I've been working to complete a backup >50 TB for months. Not sure what happens backing up 2 machines to the same service.

3. Time Machine can be only one of those backups. TM is unreliable.

4. One physical copy, such as on a hard disk, should be stored off-site. Note that both SSDs and Hard Disks stored off-site and not used deteriorate over time and will need to be refreshed. Carbon Copy cloner is one way to create a backup on physical media.
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Penryn
Feb 20, 2009
28,756
12,864
It will probably be easier to maintain the two separate libraries now that you've had that going for a while.

Regardless of what you do "in the cloud" (which I don't trust), you ought to have PHYSICAL drives with copies of the libraries on each.

AND... at least one BACKUP of each, created (and maintained) with either CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper.

Keep the first backup at home, and the second stored "off-site"...
 
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zachlegomaniac

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Sep 20, 2008
806
370
Do you know if Carbonite is comparable to Backblaze @HDFan ? I have that running currently.

Also, I’m looking at a 2021 1TB MacBook Pro to replace my MacBook Air (2019 - 128GB). I’m hoping that it won’t be too painful moving my photo library from the 2014 Mac Mini to the 2021 MBP (if I do pull the trigger), but I image that will be simple with a external SSD.
 

HDFan

Contributor
Jun 30, 2007
6,971
3,080
Do you know if Carbonite is comparable to Backblaze @HDFan ? I have that running currently.

I had problems with it and discontinued using it, but that was 11 years ago. If it works for you (be sure to try some restores periodically to test that your backups are working) then I'd stick with what works.
 
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mk313

macrumors 68020
Feb 6, 2012
2,016
1,118
I guess it could be different in different parts of the world, but in the US, the 2 TB option is only $10/month, and once you buy it, you can share the space between family members. That's what we do, so I store my photos in the 2 TB iCloud option, and the my wife backs hers up there as well, and we only pay $10/month (even though her photos are saved to her account & mine to my account)
 

zachlegomaniac

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Sep 20, 2008
806
370
I guess it could be different in different parts of the world, but in the US, the 2 TB option is only $10/month, and once you buy it, you can share the space between family members. That's what we do, so I store my photos in the 2 TB iCloud option, and the my wife backs hers up there as well, and we only pay $10/month (even though her photos are saved to her account & mine to my account)

Thank you. We have Apple Music (family) for $15.00 so I figure we'll go all in and just get their premium family plan with the 2TB of storage and all of their subscription offerings for $5.00 more ($30.00 USD). I appreciate the heads up.
 
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Danfango

macrumors 65816
Jan 4, 2022
1,294
5,778
London, UK
Yep that. Had the same problem. This was the outcome:

1. Delete a lot of the photos. A lot of them will be crap and no one is going to want to have to lug all that data around when you drop dead. I started at just over 25,000 photos and managed to shoot them down to about 7,500 that were vaguely worth keeping. I still delete a few here and there occasionally.
2. Realise you are at 100GB now and celebrate the fact you don't need a custom build mac any more.
3. Buy the 200GB iCloud plan.
4. Realise you already have Apple Music for the entire family and they're all whinging about running out of space.
5. Throw the extra couple of coins a month in to get Apple premier sub.
6. Sorted.
 
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zachlegomaniac

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Sep 20, 2008
806
370
Yep that. Had the same problem. This was the outcome:

1. Delete a lot of the photos. A lot of them will be crap and no one is going to want to have to lug all that data around when you drop dead. I started at just over 25,000 photos and managed to shoot them down to about 7,500 that were vaguely worth keeping. I still delete a few here and there occasionally.
2. Realise you are at 100GB now and celebrate the fact you don't need a custom build mac any more.
3. Buy the 200GB iCloud plan.
4. Realise you already have Apple Music for the entire family and they're all whinging about running out of space.
5. Throw the extra couple of coins a month in to get Apple premier sub.
6. Sorted.
I love it. And I knew it, too. At some point (preferably while I'm still alive) I have to face the music and delete a s***ton of garbage photos. Until you said it I didn't want to admit I had that kind of long, tedious work in front of me.

Honestly, though, this is the great, existential kind of advice I didn't know I was looking for. Thank you.
 

mk313

macrumors 68020
Feb 6, 2012
2,016
1,118
I love it. And I knew it, too. At some point (preferably while I'm still alive) I have to face the music and delete a s***ton of garbage photos. Until you said it I didn't want to admit I had that kind of long, tedious work in front of me.

Honestly, though, this is the great, existential kind of advice I didn't know I was looking for. Thank you.
I'd disagree with that advice. Granted, it's your life & you can do what you want, but the thought of sitting down & spending a good amount of time deleting photos seems like a huge waste of time. Life is short & storage is cheap and getting cheaper. And you never know what you might want that you ended up throwing away. Maybe you took 100 photos at a party & winnowed it down to your top 5. What if there was a picture of someone (in the 95) that ended up passing away later & that would have been a great photo to share with their survivors. And with regards to wading through your photos in the future, it's not like technology is going to remain stagnant. Things like Face ID, etc didn't even exist something like 10 years ago (not sure on the exact timing, but ballpark). Think what types of tech is going to be available by the time your photo library gets passed on to your survivors. They might not have to wade through anything at all. And realistically, it's not like they are going to wade through 7,500 photos, but won't do 25,000. Both libraries are likely too big for anyone other than the original owner to want to deal with. they will probably store your collection in the cloud somewhere & access it when they need to
 
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Danfango

macrumors 65816
Jan 4, 2022
1,294
5,778
London, UK
I'd disagree with that advice. Granted, it's your life & you can do what you want, but the thought of sitting down & spending a good amount of time deleting photos seems like a huge waste of time. Life is short & storage is cheap and getting cheaper. And you never know what you might want that you ended up throwing away. Maybe you took 100 photos at a party & winnowed it down to your top 5. What if there was a picture of someone (in the 95) that ended up passing away later & that would have been a great photo to share with their survivors. And with regards to wading through your photos in the future, it's not like technology is going to remain stagnant. Things like Face ID, etc didn't even exist something like 10 years ago (not sure on the exact timing, but ballpark). Think what types of tech is going to be available by the time your photo library gets passed on to your survivors. They might not have to wade through anything at all. And realistically, it's not like they are going to wade through 7,500 photos, but won't do 25,000. Both libraries are likely too big for anyone other than the original owner to want to deal with. they will probably store your collection in the cloud somewhere & access it when they need to

That’s already taken care of on mine. I have marked everything relevant to my children as favourites. This totals 225 photos which catalogues my life, their lives and my ancestors’ lives. Nothing else. Digital Legacy is set up and the gallery is already published and available to them all. And there’s an offline backup which is not encrypted that they know where it is. My eldest will probably dig into the main collection a bit more and pull some more photos out. She has said that already.

I’ve cleaned out two generations of people’s stuff in the last 30 years. It’s soul crushing dealing with hoarders and it’s just as bad with digital hoarders. The only thing with the digital variety is the problem is easier to put off sorting out because data doesn’t take up a lot of space.

My father is interesting. You say that storage is cheap, which it is, but I have 4TB of data (lightroom and photos mostly, all offline) to deal with. I’m probably going to have to just blast a lot of it.

Other people’s situations above have cost me months of my life and I really don’t want to do that to my kids. I keep my entire existence fairly minimal and well organised these days. Time you don’t spend is time someone else does.
 

HDFan

Contributor
Jun 30, 2007
6,971
3,080
And you never know what you might want that you ended up throwing away.

That is the position of the instructor on my travel photography classes, a newspaper and professional photographer. He mentioned a friend who saw a news headline and said "I think I might have a picture that relates". Sent his assistant through thousands of slides (this was pre-digitial) and found the shot. Made the cover of Time - picture of Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton. Made him $10K.

Digitial obviously makes changes. Easier to search thousands of files, but tend to have many more pictures since not worried about film costs. So I now do delete all the pictures I've taken off the floor, or with the lens cap on .... Always finding a need to find a shot that I took even decades ago.
 
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zachlegomaniac

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Sep 20, 2008
806
370
I have thousands of photos for work that have never had any meaning or provided additional value to me. They're actually cluttering up my album and make looking through it less enjoyable. I won't be sure of how much space it frees up until I do it, but it will be worthwhile just to make the album more personal. If I still end up with a large album of photos this won't be a problem, either, for the other good reasons mentioned above.
 

mk313

macrumors 68020
Feb 6, 2012
2,016
1,118
That’s already taken care of on mine. I have marked everything relevant to my children as favourites. This totals 225 photos which catalogues my life, their lives and my ancestors’ lives. Nothing else. Digital Legacy is set up and the gallery is already published and available to them all. And there’s an offline backup which is not encrypted that they know where it is. My eldest will probably dig into the main collection a bit more and pull some more photos out. She has said that already.

I’ve cleaned out two generations of people’s stuff in the last 30 years. It’s soul crushing dealing with hoarders and it’s just as bad with digital hoarders. The only thing with the digital variety is the problem is easier to put off sorting out because data doesn’t take up a lot of space.

My father is interesting. You say that storage is cheap, which it is, but I have 4TB of data (lightroom and photos mostly, all offline) to deal with. I’m probably going to have to just blast a lot of it.

Other people’s situations above have cost me months of my life and I really don’t want to do that to my kids. I keep my entire existence fairly minimal and well organised these days. Time you don’t spend is time someone else does.
I'm certainly not disagreeing that might be the right move for some people. And it sounds like you've thought it through and come up with a solution that works for you.

I still stand by my comments for myself, and think it's a valid alternative for many people. There are certainly differences between physical & digital hoarding. Physically, it needs to get done to either sell or live in the house where the hoarding took place. With digital, until/unless you actually need the files, it can be delayed indefinitely.

I do think that photo search is getting better all the time & we are scanning all of my parent's photos as a birthday gift to them. Each child will also get a full copy of all photos they have (I realize photos were less prevalent when you had to pay for them to be developed), but they have thousands of them & I have no plans to delete any when I get my copy.

With digital photos, I'm not sure that the quote 'Time you don't spend is time someone else does' is always accurate. I remember going through my digital music and deleting some of it due to storage space concerns on my Powerbook. A year or so later, Apple debuted iTunes Match or whatever it was called, and I was able to store everything without having to worry about storage space. Same thing with iCloud photos. It's so was to scan through at the month or year level, that aside from obvious issues, I see no need to delete things. Granted I'm not a photographer & I don't have terabytes of data, but I do have tens of thousands of phots and I have no issue going through them, and it's way easier to go through them today, with the enhanced features Apple (I know others have made improvements too, but I only use the Photos app) has brought to the table. Culling my photos would be way eraser today than it was 10 years ago, and I think it will be even simpler in the future. so if it would have taken me 40 hours to go through my photos in the past (just making up a number), and it would only take me 20 hours today, it's reasonable to assume that it will only take 10 hours in the future (if anyone even feels the need to go through them. Or else my kids could just leave them all as they are and just search for photos by face, location, tag, etc whenever they want to find them.

Glad that you've found a solution that works for you, but I think there are definitely alternative viewpoints on the subject.
 
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hobowankenobi

macrumors 68020
Aug 27, 2015
2,082
886
on the land line mr. smith.
As an alternative...for those that want to keep many thousands of images, I like a local NAS like Synology. A little work to set up, but space is cheap in comparison, and everybody locally can use it equally, which is nice on iPads or other devices. Fairly easy to backup (both locally and cloud services), and can easily be set up with redundant drives to minimize loss of data due to drive failure.

They also have a decent tool to view and share and organize photos too, as well as a more basic option.
 

TechSnoop

Suspended
Apr 15, 2022
8
6
iCloud isn't really a backup (Photos deleted - deliberately or accidentally - from one device, get deleted from all devices linked to that iCloud account). So it makes sense to keep a master back of your tens of thousands of photos on a NAS or external hard drive. Then organize and keep your best photos in the Photos library and iCloud, and cull the rest since it's still there on the NAS/EHD. That'll also bring the Photos library within affordable iCloud slab?
 

darngooddesign

macrumors P6
Jul 4, 2007
18,270
9,954
Atlanta, GA
I'd disagree with that advice. Granted, it's your life & you can do what you want, but the thought of sitting down & spending a good amount of time deleting photos seems like a huge waste of time. Life is short & storage is cheap and getting cheaper. And you never know what you might want that you ended up throwing away. Maybe you took 100 photos at a party & winnowed it down to your top 5. What if there was a picture of someone (in the 95) that ended up passing away later & that would have been a great photo to share with their survivors. And with regards to wading through your photos in the future, it's not like technology is going to remain stagnant. Things like Face ID, etc didn't even exist something like 10 years ago (not sure on the exact timing, but ballpark). Think what types of tech is going to be available by the time your photo library gets passed on to your survivors. They might not have to wade through anything at all. And realistically, it's not like they are going to wade through 7,500 photos, but won't do 25,000. Both libraries are likely too big for anyone other than the original owner to want to deal with. they will probably store your collection in the cloud somewhere & access it when they need to
Its not really a waste of time because wading through a bunch of unwanted photos just too find the good ones is time consuming and frustrating. But your point about storage being cheap is valid so maybe a compromise is best. What I have done is go year by year and...

1. Favorite/heart the keeper photos.
2. Create a smart album which gathers non-favorited photos.
3. Drag every photo, favorite and non, from that year into a year-specific folder on your external drive. Instead of dragging them you can export them with a custom naming system to make finding photos easier. You an even do Year>Month folders for easier location of photos.
4. Delete the contents of that smart album.

Now you are left with only your keepers while not tossing any additional ones you might want later.
 

ignatius345

macrumors 604
Aug 20, 2015
7,220
12,034
I will tell you how I do it, maybe some of that will help. I have the 2tb iCloud+ plan, I do use most of the other services and I share part of the storage with the family. My photos library is about 400gb of that. I also keep a full copy (aka not optimized storage) on my Mac Pro and on my main MBP that has a 1tb ssd and enough room for the photos.

My Mac Pro backs up the photos library nightly to an external "data" drive and then that data drive gets mirrored to a "backup" drive immediately after, both of these events happen around 2am using Carbon Copy Cloner.
This is exactly the setup I use. An iMac with a full copy of my Photos Library downloaded and backed up, leaving my iPhone and MacBook Air to just do "optimized" and download on demand. That 2TB iCloud plan is a bit costly, but it's massively helpful in general. At the same time, I don't trust iCloud or any other cloud service with everything, hence the local copy and backups.
 
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ignatius345

macrumors 604
Aug 20, 2015
7,220
12,034
I have thousands of photos for work that have never had any meaning or provided additional value to me. They're actually cluttering up my album and make looking through it less enjoyable. I won't be sure of how much space it frees up until I do it, but it will be worthwhile just to make the album more personal. If I still end up with a large album of photos this won't be a problem, either, for the other good reasons mentioned above.
My recommendation would be to get it all set up and syncing with iCloud, and then at your leisure start chipping away at all that editing down on your computer or your phone, whatever's in front of you at the moment. It sounds like a lot of editing, and might just be easier done in chunks versus one horrible stretch of time.
 
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zachlegomaniac

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Sep 20, 2008
806
370
My recommendation would be to get it all set up and syncing with iCloud, and then at your leisure start chipping away at all that editing down on your computer or your phone, whatever's in front of you at the moment. It sounds like a lot of editing, and might just be easier done in chunks versus one horrible stretch of time.
This is what I've started doing. It's too much to do in one sitting. I take a lot of screen shots and photos to serve as a reminder / document various aspects of my work. I've also been manually deleting all of these photos when I am finished with them. Thanks for the tip.
 
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ignatius345

macrumors 604
Aug 20, 2015
7,220
12,034
This is what I've started doing. It's too much to do in one sitting. I take a lot of screen shots and photos to serve as a reminder / document various aspects of my work. I've also been manually deleting all of these photos when I am finished with them. Thanks for the tip.
I believe you can search specifically for screenshots, which might make bulk deletion a bit easier.
 
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