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icloud – What is a good backup strategy for macOS Photos?



I have ~ 30,000 images in my library, which take up 90 GB of disk space. My MacBook has a limited hard drive size, so I use an external hard drive for my Photos library. The library is synchronized with iCloud.

This means that I have two full copies of my photo library – the remote drive and iCloud. But I still do not feel completely safe. I’ve heard of people who have lost much of their photo collection when absent thoughts delete photos from an iOS device to free up space, only to realize that iCloud syncs the deletion to all other devices.

So I want a third backup site so I can be there reasonably safe I have a good backup of my entire photo library in case of disaster or screw up. Of course, I want everything to be as automated as possible.

These are the options I have considered / tried:

  1. Create two partitions on the remote drive ̵

    1; one for the Photos library, one for a Time Machine backup of the same. This will allow me to reset changes to the library. Disadvantages: Having a Time Machine backup and a Photos library on the same drive is not recommended by Apple, so I need another hard drive.

  2. Use a third-party online backup service to mirror your entire Photos library. This allows me to recover from a disaster happening with iCloud and / or the local library. Disadvantages: The Photos library consists not only of image files, but also an SQLite database file, which in my case is about 450 MB. Every time I modify my library in any way, the database file changes, which means I have to upload (at least) 450 MB to the backup service for every single thing I do. This seems like a huge waste of bandwidth.

  3. Store the actual image library on the internal hard disk, while keeping the image files as “referenced” images stored on the external hard disk. This will save space on the internal drive. Disadvantages: Will require me to organize the file structure myself. iCloud syncing is also not possible for referenced photos.

Are there any better options for achieving a good automated backup strategy for macOS Photos?


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