Monday, November 30, 2015

Done With iCloud Photo Library

Stephen Hackett (comments):

Over the week of Thanksgiving, I decided to give it another try. I hadn’t really spent any time with since OS X El Capitan, and I had heard a lot of good things from people I know about it.

I imported my photos and uploaded my 70GB photo library to iCloud. Everything went very smoothly, so I turned on iCloud Photo Library on my iPad.

Aaaaaand it all exploded.


I will probably keep my photos in, but I won’t be uploading them to Apple’s service again. Photo management needs to be bulletproof, and iCloud has proved, yet again, to be far from it.

Update (2015-12-10): Christopher Sardegna:

Nearly all of the old photos I have in my iCloud Photo Library look like this. Great images, all gone. Destroyed.

Justin Searls:

My iCloud Photo Library is now so big that metadata/thumbnails can’t be loaded onto a 16GB iOS. Has to be disabled

Update (2016-12-13): Jonathan Wight:

People were asking me if using for storing all my photos was working for me?

Well today it ate them all. So no.

300 GB of photos no longer accessible in Fortunately I have many backups (not crazy!)

5 Comments RSS · Twitter

Very surprising, considering that cloud services have long been a core competency of Apple.

(I probably need to create a text macro for that line.)

My favorite part of the comments are the many folks emphatically retorting: Hey, it doesn't irretrievably erase user data for everyone!

Very happy with iCloud Photo Library.

My wife, myself and both my children use it. My wife has a 190 GB photo library with about 30,000 photos and hundreds of videos (I converted dozens of old .dv clips from iMovie to MP4 videos and imported into

All four of us have an iPhone, an iPad and there are two family Macs where each of us has a login. IPL has been perfect in all four cases - the total number of photos and videos on each device match exactly across all four accounts.

I couldn't imagine going back to not having IPL.

I suspect that one of the biggest problems is people aren't patient. My wife's library took about 10 days to fully sync across all her devices. To that point, IPL could do a much better job of reporting sync status.

"I suspect that one of the biggest problems is people aren't patient."

Stephen Hackett doesn't indicate whether or not he tried to cancel his iPad sync before it completed, but regardless, it still shouldn't irretrievably erase user data.

"To that point, IPL could do a much better job of reporting sync status."

Sure. But regardless of what status it shows to the user, it still shouldn't irretrievably erase user data.

"Very happy with iCloud Photo Library."

Yeah, as mentioned, that was a frequent reply in the comment thread. Some version of, "I use IPL and it never irretrievably erased my user data. And I love it."

But I had one member of my extended family who did have IPL irretrievably erase their user data. And, of course, they didn't have a proper backup. They called me, and I couldn't figure out what they had done wrong. I do know it wasn't a case of being impatient during a sync. All I could tell them was how to disable IPL, how to do backups, and offer my sympathies.

Obviously, IPL works reasonably well for the majority of folks. Apple obviously did some initial testing, and it obviously worked fine when used perfectly properly in a pristine computing environment. But regardless, it seems to me far beyond unacceptable that a notable number of folks do have experiences where IPL irretrievably erases their user data, which beyond these 2 anecdotes, you can see if you google around.

I mean, I know sync is hard, but you don't hear these stories about Dropbox...

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