Minimum spec for Mac for download of iCloud Drive/iCloud Photo Library

I’ve been thinking for ages (including this thread) about how to backup iCloud Drive and iCloud photo library from Macs with small SSDs. I think I’ve decided that the easiest way is to use my old iMac (or a Mac mini) which has enough storage for all my files, set to ‘non-optimised’ for iCloud Drive and iCloud photo library, and backup from there.

This will enable me to have all my files locally, backed up from the iMac to Backblaze and also to a local SSD. I won’t have to worry about networking or all the issues with iCloud Drive on an external SSD

How old and slow can I get away with? Is there any problem with using an old machine that can’t be upgraded to the latest MacOS?

(Sorry about all the questions, I hope somebody else will find the answers helpful in the future).

I think it all depends on the changes between OS versions. If your older hardware cant process these there’s always the chance you won’t get the full sync. Also: Backblaze app versions also might not work on the old machine.

Speed should not matter all that much, since the machine probably won;t have that much else to do. I think the main stumbling block would be whether the old machine can run the newer apps

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Good points, thanks. What about all those who run old Mac minis as Plex servers - how old have you been able to get away with?

Depends on future OS changes, which cannot be exactly predicted.

But, as a datapoint, my 2012 Mac Mini is happily syncing my iCloud Photo Library, so I’d say that in this case Apple is keen on supporting old devices --or at least does not intend on changing the underlying sync technology.

Yeah, it’ll be difficult to predict when Apple will change some underlying piece in the operating system – they might not even tell when they do. And would you even notice? It might stop sync’ing some file in a non-obvious way.

For this kind of work (backups being as important as they are) I would want to be using the current operating system. So, that will determine the oldest Mac.

Now you can go make a study of which Macs tend to receive OS updates the longest into their old age? My bet (guess) would be the desktops, especially those at the start of some generational change. Currently I think an M1 mac mini or iMac will probably be the safest.

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