What’s the Best Cloud Storage Solution for Photos?

Yesterday, I wrote about how Apple Photos needs selective sync. It’s problematic that my library is very large, because I have raw files in addition to JPEGs, but that I can’t prevent those files from syncing to the cloud. I love iCloud Photo Library, but this is becoming a problem.

This morning, I had an issue with Messages, and contacted Apple Support. One thing they wanted me to do was sign out of my iCloud account on my Mac, where I’m having the issue, then sign in again. I told them that I simply could not do this, since it would take several days from my iCloud Photo Library to upload again. (I don’t know why iCloud doesn’t understand that the photos in the cloud and on my Mac are the same.)

I’ve now come to the conclusion that, as practical as iCloud Photo Library is, I can’t afford the hassle of using it, since it is so tightly linked to the overall iCloud account.

So what are the other options? I know that Adobe just announced a new version of Lightroom, with cloud storage, but I don’t want to use Lightroom; I will continue to use Photos to manage and edit my photos locally. What I want is a solution that allows me to take some of my photos from the Photos app and store them in the cloud, so I can access them from my other Mac, and from my iOS devices.

So, any recommendations?

32 thoughts on “What’s the Best Cloud Storage Solution for Photos?

  1. Signing out of icloud on the computer would not have removed them from the cloud, and turning icloud photo library back on would not reupload everything.

  2. Signing out of icloud on the computer would not have removed them from the cloud, and turning icloud photo library back on would not reupload everything.

  3. I’m having a problem with the Photos Agent process. It’s been running almost constantly since I upgraded to High Sierra. I contacted Apple Support. They had me do some diagnostic testing but they couldn’t resolve the problem. My photo library is only 4,000 photos. This process is both a CPU and RAM hog. I only add photos once a month and have syncing on my iPhone turned off. It is very frustrating. I presently use both Google Photo and Dropbox to store photos as well as iCloud. I share your frustration. I hope you come up with some ideas for photo storage.

  4. I’m having a problem with the Photos Agent process. It’s been running almost constantly since I upgraded to High Sierra. I contacted Apple Support. They had me do some diagnostic testing but they couldn’t resolve the problem. My photo library is only 4,000 photos. This process is both a CPU and RAM hog. I only add photos once a month and have syncing on my iPhone turned off. It is very frustrating. I presently use both Google Photo and Dropbox to store photos as well as iCloud. I share your frustration. I hope you come up with some ideas for photo storage.

  5. Have a look at Mylio. It has fantastic syncing options that give you a lot of control, including direct device-to-device syncing that doesn’t require a cloud. These can be set differently for different sets of photos. What I don’t know is how it integrates with Photos (or not). I’m not in a position at the moment to investigate myself, but given your needs I’d suggest it’s worth a look.

  6. Have a look at Mylio. It has fantastic syncing options that give you a lot of control, including direct device-to-device syncing that doesn’t require a cloud. These can be set differently for different sets of photos. What I don’t know is how it integrates with Photos (or not). I’m not in a position at the moment to investigate myself, but given your needs I’d suggest it’s worth a look.

  7. I use Dropbox for cloud storage, including my iTunes media library. It works fine but updates files if they are changed while in use: for example, when I play music the files are updated in Dropbox because of the play count.
    For photos I am a 10-year Lightroom user. I considered using Dropbox here but it would mean constant updating as each little editing change is made. If I could ‘suspend’ Dropbox for the duration of the editing it could work but there is no simple way to do that.
    BTW I am going to move away from Lightroom now they have killed the perpetual licence version. Their subscription rates are too high and the new features are too marginal. I don’t like that they promised they would retain the perpetual licence and then broke that promise. Don’t trust Adobe at all. So will be looking to migrate a large library to a new photo editor.

    • I’m not happy with Adobe, either.

      But has Adobe actually said the perpetual license would be killed? Or is it that LR 6 will be the last perpetual license version available? AFAIK, LR 6 perpetual is and will still be sold. Then it’s an issue of compatibility with future hardware and macOS updates.

      My quandary is what to move to. Having used LR from the beginning, I have >100K photos, with a huge number edited. I may have to keep an old computer (and macOS) just to keep that going.

  8. I use Dropbox for cloud storage, including my iTunes media library. It works fine but updates files if they are changed while in use: for example, when I play music the files are updated in Dropbox because of the play count.
    For photos I am a 10-year Lightroom user. I considered using Dropbox here but it would mean constant updating as each little editing change is made. If I could ‘suspend’ Dropbox for the duration of the editing it could work but there is no simple way to do that.
    BTW I am going to move away from Lightroom now they have killed the perpetual licence version. Their subscription rates are too high and the new features are too marginal. I don’t like that they promised they would retain the perpetual licence and then broke that promise. Don’t trust Adobe at all. So will be looking to migrate a large library to a new photo editor.

    • I’m not happy with Adobe, either.

      But has Adobe actually said the perpetual license would be killed? Or is it that LR 6 will be the last perpetual license version available? AFAIK, LR 6 perpetual is and will still be sold. Then it’s an issue of compatibility with future hardware and macOS updates.

      My quandary is what to move to. Having used LR from the beginning, I have >100K photos, with a huge number edited. I may have to keep an old computer (and macOS) just to keep that going.

  9. I have a similar issue with iCloud photo but on iOS. With iOS 10 I was unable to turn on iCloud Photo Library because when I did the thumbnail data for my 250,000+ library was larger than my 128gb iPhone 7 Plus. After iOS 11 I tried it again thinking the new file format would help. It did, in that the photos now fit on my phone but now anything involving accessing my camera roll takes forever. Any ideas?!

  10. I have a similar issue with iCloud photo but on iOS. With iOS 10 I was unable to turn on iCloud Photo Library because when I did the thumbnail data for my 250,000+ library was larger than my 128gb iPhone 7 Plus. After iOS 11 I tried it again thinking the new file format would help. It did, in that the photos now fit on my phone but now anything involving accessing my camera roll takes forever. Any ideas?!

  11. There will be no updates and support for new cameras to LR6 starting next year. If you don’t get a new camera, it should continue to work for a while, but not forever.

    Regarding alternative libraries then I would suggest Capture One, which along with a unified library supports small “session” libraries that are handy for individual projects. (If you are shooting with a Sony camera, there is a basic version that is free.)

    Regarding archiving photos, Amazon Prime photos works pretty well. I had some trouble with the software, but it is working for me now without problem. It has some basic browsing features which are mostly annoying but uploads and downloads are fast and easy – assuming you have a fast connection.

    David

  12. There will be no updates and support for new cameras to LR6 starting next year. If you don’t get a new camera, it should continue to work for a while, but not forever.

    Regarding alternative libraries then I would suggest Capture One, which along with a unified library supports small “session” libraries that are handy for individual projects. (If you are shooting with a Sony camera, there is a basic version that is free.)

    Regarding archiving photos, Amazon Prime photos works pretty well. I had some trouble with the software, but it is working for me now without problem. It has some basic browsing features which are mostly annoying but uploads and downloads are fast and easy – assuming you have a fast connection.

    David

  13. Apple has never gotten cloud services to work reliably and conveniently. I have never dared to seriously use them for photos; I have plenty of experience with their music in the cloud mischief. At heart, I suspect Apple believes it is making the very best toys it can instead of the very best serious cloud services for its most discerning users. Count me among those who are looking forward to the new Dropbox/Luminar collaboration.

  14. Apple has never gotten cloud services to work reliably and conveniently. I have never dared to seriously use them for photos; I have plenty of experience with their music in the cloud mischief. At heart, I suspect Apple believes it is making the very best toys it can instead of the very best serious cloud services for its most discerning users. Count me among those who are looking forward to the new Dropbox/Luminar collaboration.

  15. Yes, by saying it won’t get updates to Camera Raw they’re making it a non-viable option.
    That’s killing it. Stop being pedantic, Adobe is screwing users again.

    OT: Use any self-contained third party photo library app like Photo Manager Pro 5 and let it store everything in iCloud, still the cheapest option.

  16. Yes, by saying it won’t get updates to Camera Raw they’re making it a non-viable option.
    That’s killing it. Stop being pedantic, Adobe is screwing users again.

    OT: Use any self-contained third party photo library app like Photo Manager Pro 5 and let it store everything in iCloud, still the cheapest option.

  17. I have a different problem. I live in a rural area and can’t get access to high speed internet. I have been using Lightroom as a standalone app, but it is being discontinued so I am looking for a replacement standalone photo editing and photo manager app for Mac. Any suggestions?

    • There are a couple of editing solutions you might check out: Affinity Photo and Luminar. The latter is due to see a DAM (digital asset manager) soon, and the former has said they might add one.

    • I have found Photos to work just fine for a large library of RAW and JPEG images – with the library local on an external drive and iCloud synchronization turned off. (Actually I have two libraries – one for my iPhone images that does synch and the other for the Large RAW images that doesn’t sync.). Other than some quirks, Photos has worked well for me. My RAW library only references the images. I just make sure I backup the libraries and the images regularly.

      I have tried Affinity and don’t like it – the editing controls don’t work the way I expect. Luminar is better, but edits are contained in layers and the edited images can grow pretty large.

      I think Capture 1 is actually the most robust solution. If you shoot with Sony cameras there is a Capture 1 version that is free.

      David

  18. I have a different problem. I live in a rural area and can’t get access to high speed internet. I have been using Lightroom as a standalone app, but it is being discontinued so I am looking for a replacement standalone photo editing and photo manager app for Mac. Any suggestions?

    • There are a couple of editing solutions you might check out: Affinity Photo and Luminar. The latter is due to see a DAM (digital asset manager) soon, and the former has said they might add one.

    • I have found Photos to work just fine for a large library of RAW and JPEG images – with the library local on an external drive and iCloud synchronization turned off. (Actually I have two libraries – one for my iPhone images that does synch and the other for the Large RAW images that doesn’t sync.). Other than some quirks, Photos has worked well for me. My RAW library only references the images. I just make sure I backup the libraries and the images regularly.

      I have tried Affinity and don’t like it – the editing controls don’t work the way I expect. Luminar is better, but edits are contained in layers and the edited images can grow pretty large.

      I think Capture 1 is actually the most robust solution. If you shoot with Sony cameras there is a Capture 1 version that is free.

      David

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