Mac Photos wants to re-upload everything
July 11, 2019 8:39 AM   Subscribe

I bought a new iMac and restored everything from the last Time Machine backup on me (now deceased) former Mac. Everything is working as it should, except Photos, which insists on re-uploading my 47k pics and 1000 videos to iCloud, when they are already there.

Obviously, we use iCloud photos, and everything is backed up there. I would have thought that the new Mac would sync with iCloud, and see what new pictures are available. Instead, it seems determined to do a redundant re-upload of everything on the local library. Any way to keep this from happening? Has someone dealt with this issue before?
posted by Pater Aletheias to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have a vague feeling that despite the wording of the message, it isn’t actually uploading every photo, it’s uploading enough data to check whether the iCloud version matches what’s on the Mac (or something, I don’t know exactly what it’s doing). Which is still a long and slow process, but not quite as ridiculous as it seems.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 8:52 AM on July 11 [1 favorite]

I’ve been through this twice and a friend of mine has been through it once. Where we ended up is that the best option is to not try to re-use an existing backup library and let it redownload the world from iCloud. It’s super annoying and took a few days but everything else resulted in dupes or other weirdness.
posted by AaRdVarK at 9:09 AM on July 11

When mine did this I left it alone to see what was really going to happen, because if it really wanted to upload everything again I'd have plenty of opportunity to stop it. There was a lot of local disk and CPU activity, and it initially said something like "uploading 25,796 photos." But it stayed like that for what I think was an hour without any movement of the progress bar, and no noticeable network traffic. But after all that time without any evident progress, the number dropped by a huge amount (say, from 25,796 to just 796), and then it actually started uploading photos and counting down as it did so.

Coincidentally I think the 796 (or whatever it was) mostly corresponded to photos I'd transferred directly from my camera to my phone (where only the JPEG part of a RAW+JPEG pair got copied) and I eventually figured out a way I could build a smart search that would identify those photos based on metadata (something like "camera is X" and "filename starts with IMG"). I could then easily remove those duplicates and keep the full RAW+JPEG pair (which still have filenames assigned by the camera). I guess if I had done that first the upload would have been even smaller.

So anyway, you could leave it and see what happens on some day you can periodically check on the progress bar, and maybe be somewhat pleasantly surprised. And if you're unpleasantly not surprised, then you still have plenty of time to move to Plan B.
posted by fedward at 9:23 AM on July 11 [3 favorites]

I should note here: I don't have a bandwidth cap I have to worry about, and I'm not paying based on data usage. If you have some sort of usage-based limit or pricing, then my approach might be riskier for you than it was for me. I'm guessing if you already have that many photos and videos in iCloud you probably don't have a limit you're worried about either, but I will admit my approach isn't universal and I should have considered that in my reply.
posted by fedward at 10:49 AM on July 11

Unless you’re on some metered data plan, I’d just let it run. I once had an issue like this, where I had to rebuild my library and then it began to “reupload” everything. I use quotes because I couldn’t tell if it was doing some sort of checksum or whether it was truly uploading. But it resolved itself after a few days.
posted by alidarbac at 4:40 AM on July 12

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