Hiccups with iCloud Photos / External Hard Drive / Multiple family members

I recently decided to begin using iCloud more seriously, thinking it would be a good solution for syncing family photos across accounts. I also decided to set up a MacOS Server to mirror all of my iCloud photos. I had an old Macbook (one of the early just “Macbook” models).

I’ve run into a few hiccups. It took me a week or two to get 5,000 of so photos uploaded from my phone.

On the Macbook, I set up a Photos library on an attached external hard drive and set it as a system photo library. it downloaded 520 Photos, and then it just said “Updating”. It has remained like this for about a week. It doesn’t even indicate that is knows about the other 4000 photos, other than this updating message.

Here are my three questions:

  1. Any idea about why the Photos app doesn’t seem to want to progress? I tried turning the iCloud sync off and back on, and I tried setting it to both optimized downloads and full downloads. None of it causes it to progress.
  2. My goal was to sync and have full copies of all of my family’s photos on the server. I’m realizing that with this shared family iCloud account, everyone’s data is still kind of firewalled. To accomplish what I want, do I need to set up users on the server for each family member, and then set up a “system photo library” for every person, in order to have all of the photos downloaded for everyone? I think that is the case but I wanted to make sure. A little bit annoying to have to do that but it seems like you probably can’t share the external photo library and expect everyone’s icloud photos to sync to it properly.
  3. I set up a volume which I put the iPhotos library on, and I also made this a shared folder for Time Machine backups. I was able to successfully backup one of my other Macs to it across the network. However, it seems like the server itself cannot back up to its own time machine-enabled shared folder. Is that possibly the intended design? Any advice on this? Do I need another volume to backup the server too, in addition to the volume it is sharing for Time Machine backups?

Though I’m pretty sure I have restarted at least once since setting up the Photos library on the external drive, I did it again today and now it recognizes that they are 5000+ photos in the library and says it is updating. so this is progress. Definitely still curious about questions 2 and 3 above but perhaps my question 1 is no longer relevant.

May be unrelated, but my iCloud has been stuck uploading 4 files for the last week. And someone else on this forum mentioned being stuck. Likely a problem on Apple’s side of things. However, I notice the never-changing progress circle is gone this morning so maybe iCloud has cleared it issues, for the time being at least. It’s always hard to know what’s going on with iCloud. :slightly_smiling_face: