Photos Postmortem

Five days remain. That is how long I have to wait until I can attempt to sync photos again. I will probably wait longer. As previously covered on Technecast and here and here, my first attempt at photo syncing through iCloud went very badly. So I finally gave up and told iCloud to delete it all and start over. But to do this I must wait thirty days before Apple is comfortable deleting my library from the cloud.

So what went wrong? Things seemed to be doomed to failure right from the beginning. In retrospect I should not have committed to uploading so quickly. After installing 10.10.3 I figured I would have time to fix up iPhoto before opening the new app and importing it all. But that wasn’t the case. Photos started importing in the background immediately, meaning the work I was currently doing in iPhoto didn’t make it into the new app. In hindsight I should have never told Photos to upload without first getting in and checking the library. What can I say, I was excited.

I was uploading a damaged library and wanted to stop it. I tried to immediately stop the upload and fix things. But it appeared the damage was done. About a thousand photos made it to the web, and a whole bunch of albums. I could not delete anything from the web app even though I wanted to just start over. The only reset option had a thirty day grace period. Not yet.

Next I loaded the cloud library on my iPhone to attempt to delete the excess there. It seemed to work at first, but then out of nowhere all the albums I had removed returned to the web app. And this time they were stuck. The albums only appeared on the web. But fine, if they didn’t appear in a client and weren’t a problem I could live with that until Apple fixed things.

Days later I finally uploaded the library from my Mac. All 300+ GB were there. Then I turned on the phone. The first attempt to download it all got stuck. So I turned it off and started again, and finally it worked. This was the one time when I got to see the promise of this service and it was amazing. But it didn’t last.

Then came the iPad. The iPad was crashing constantly. So I figured it was finally time to let go of five years of iPad data and restore the device from scratch. Then the first thing I did was enable photo syncing. Things seemed to be going well and after a day and a half everything was downloaded.

Then it got weird. Photos started disappearing. The total number reported by the iPad was going down. Then back up. Then down. Then up. This went on for the two days before I finally gave up.

I wish I could say what went wrong, but I have no ideas. The process is completely opaque. There is really nothing you can do to troubleshoot. Just let it go and try again.

There was one final gift. I decided to turn the whole thing off and start over. When I turned off the iPhone syncing it asked whether I wanted to keep the photos locally or delete them. I chose delete since the master library is on the Mac. It then took about 10 hours to slowly delete the photos, stalling out multiple times. Even then it finished with about 1000 photos remaining. I had to delete those manually.

The whole process was so frustrating, especially since I barely got to see it work. So now I wait for two things. The first is for my cloud library to delete entirely. I am hoping that a full reset will give me a chace to start over with a nice clean upload. The second is the new software currently in beta. Both OS X and iOS are likely to get fixed soon. I also removed over 700 album’s created from iPhoto events in the Mac app. The way Photos works I don’t need them.

I still hope this works. Maybe in a month or so I will finally get to enjoy the good photo library experience others seemed to have had. But not yet.

Photos Postmortem was last updated May 19th, 2015 by Michael Truskowski