iCloud photos / iPhoto entanglement
February 18, 2020 12:12 PM   Subscribe

iCloud has been nagging (in a very unApple like way, like in the middle of a DVD) for months now that my iCloud storage is full. I don't really want to pay for more storage, so I'm trying to free up space to stop the nagging. But I'm petrified of a) deleting photos irrevocably. b) thinking I'm deleting only from iCloud photos but then iCloud photos might reach into my iPhoto library on my Mac and delete what I think are locally stored photos there, because the entanglement is greater than I realise.

I've done some deleting on my iPhone on a day -by -day basis (select all, delete) for each date range, and I've done some deleting on the iCloud website, again, similar to the above - nothing seems to be getting removed from my iPhoto library AND on the plus side iCloud now ISN'T nagging anymore that my storage is full - but I dislike admitting I don't seem in control anymore of where the photos are stored (the 'master' copy!) and in whose gift it is to delete them. I hate the idea that I might be left with a lower resolution copy because iCloud has hoovered up the original.

Arrrr!! So confusing. Butt out, iCloud!!
posted by dance to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I had the exact same issue. I needed to free up space on my phone but couldn't figure out a way to keep the photos in iphoto but delete them off my phone in any useful way. Ended up just dumping everything before a certain date into a folder, putting it on one of my photo backup drives and then deleting them from the phone/iphoto. Like you I imagine there is a better solution but a few minutes googling and I had no luck.

In the end I decided that for the moment 15$ for a flash drive was worth more then time time trying to figure it out.
posted by Captain_Science at 12:46 PM on February 18, 2020

I am in the middle of this, too: my wife's phone is essentially locked up, storage-wise.

The trick is to get the full-resolution versions of your photos out of Apple's ecosystem and somewhere else. Then, if you do delete them from the iPhone or Mac or whatever, the non-Apple copy is safe.

Google Photos offers space for this, as does Amazon Photos (for Prime members). Flickr seems to have its head permanently stuck in its butt, so they're off the list of options. Both of these offer phone apps, which should pull the full-resolution version out of iCloud and send it to the remote (service (i.e. Google or Amazon); you can use a web app or desktop app to send files form your desktop computer.

A home-brew solution (using a NAS like a Synology) in an option, but my unit is pretty old -- and also, it's inside my house, not in a remote location.

So our plan is to pay extra for Google storage space (now called Google One), and use the Google Photos phone app to copy everything up there. Then I will export both of her Photos.app desktop libraries to an external drive, point the Google desktop application at that, and get those in the cloud, too. In the future, keeping the phone cleaned off and regularly backing it up with the app should be a good system.
posted by wenestvedt at 1:10 PM on February 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

I preface this with the disclaimer that I am an Android user. My gf had this problem too. I did two things. One, she now backs up to Amazon photos as part of her Prime membership. She also automatically backs up to Google Photos. Two, to solve the historical problem, I created a 2nd Apple account and moved all the photos into that. Then, I relogged into her original Apple account and now she does not worry about deleting stuff on her phone.

On preview, what wenestvelt said makes more sense in terms of copying the old photos to the Google or Amazon account too rather than to a 2nd Apple account. I have a Google Fi phone account which gives me 100gb of storage that I can add family members to. She is now sharing that storage (in her own account).
posted by AugustWest at 1:16 PM on February 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

I have the OneDrive app installed on my phone and it puts a copy of my photos into their ecosystem. I have an O365 subscription so I get 1TB from them. Then I just routinely purge my camera roll and have the photos option turned off in my device backup. Keeps me well under the free 5GB limit for iCloud backups. If I remember, Dropbox, Google, Amazon, and other cloud storage providers all offer similar options with apps backing up to their service. I just went with OneDrive since I was already paying for the office subscription.
posted by msbutah at 1:53 PM on February 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

Tidbits dealt with this issue a couple of days ago
posted by TheRaven at 2:18 PM on February 18, 2020 [4 favorites]

@TheRaven: Thanks, professor; this is classic.
posted by lometogo at 4:55 PM on February 18, 2020

Dropbox used to but I believe they scuttled their photos features a while back. I heard it was great. *sigh*
posted by wenestvedt at 5:11 PM on February 18, 2020

Dropbox still has photos uploading over here on iOS, at least.
posted by Alensin at 5:53 PM on February 18, 2020

Keybase currently offers 250GB of online storage for free, in a purely online encrypted file system that uses a restricted amount of device-local storage for caching only; unlike Dropbox, it doesn't try to keep a local folder synchronized with what's online so you won't overstuff your small devices by uploading bits from your big ones. Public, private and team-shared storage are all available. Anything you save inside your own public Keybase folder also gets a web address (for example, here's one of mine).

Keybase also comes with a competent end-to-end-encrypted messaging system offering stronger identity guarantees than Signal or Whatsapp, an integrated cryptocurrency wallet based on Stellar (whose blockchain, unlike Bitcoin's, does not and will never require electricity to be burned at country scale), the ability to assert provable identity claims across multiple social networking services, and good facilities for blocking unwanted attention.

Non-profit funded, open source and cross-platform (OS X, Linux, Windows, Android, iOS). If you're looking to disentangle yourself from device vendors' ecosystems it's a good place to start.

But as with any cloud service, the main thing to keep in mind is that if you can't put your own actual physical hands on at least two different physical objects containing identical copies of your data, your data don't really exist. USB3 external hard disk drives are cheap. Get two, hook them up to some device that's not too brain-dead or locked-down to talk to them, and copy everything onto both of them as well as to something non-Apple in the cloud.
posted by flabdablet at 11:43 PM on February 18, 2020 [2 favorites]

flabdablet: ...if you can't put your own actual physical hands on at least two different physical objects containing identical copies of your data, your data don't really exist.

Also known as the 3-2-1 Rule Of Backups:
3 total copies of your data, 2 of which are local but on different mediums (read: devices), and at least 1 copy offsite
That can be one copy on the iPhone, a second copy on an external drive in your house, and a third copy in the cloud on on an external drive somewhere outside your house.
posted by wenestvedt at 5:57 AM on February 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

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