Photo Library Backups...Windows or Mac?

So we have two Mac laptops in the house for My Wife and I and no other macs. Currently, I have two Windows computers we use to backup our photos. One computer has the Windows iCloud app logged into my account to download the originals, and the other has my Wife’s account.

Now the Windows iCloud is no where as good as backing up your full Photos Library from a mac (of course with all the originals downloaded). All Windows does is download your originals, and it doesn’t even do it that good. They all get stuck in one big folder, unless you chose manually to download your photos from past years, then it will put it in that year’s folder. That is what I have setup right now.

I’d like to transition to backing up our full Photos libraries with originals.

If I were to buy a Mac Mini, could I have both our user accounts setup, continuously syncing with iCloud and periodically automatically making copies of our libraries to a separate server? Or can I only do that with 1 account? I was curious if there were two users, do you have to have both logged in, or do you have to sign out of and sign in as the other to get it to sync, etc.

I really wish they would just let you download your whole Mac Photos library using the Windows iCloud Control Panel… And it would be great if one computer could do more than one user…

Thanks for any help you can provide!

You’re talking about uploading photos to iCloud, not downloading to your computer, correct?

I don’t know if iCloud Photos for Windows works differently from the Mac, but iCloud doesn’t “back up” images per se, it moves the canonical ‘original’ images to the cloud, where you can access them from any device. You’re not really backing them up, they live in the cloud and you get to see a copy (often a thumbnail version until you go into an individual image and work on it). So if you want to actually have original images stay on your PC/Mac/phone and back them up somewhere, you need a different service, be it Google Photos, Flickr, Amazon Photos, Smugmug etc.

It is possible that the Windows app does work differently but you need to investigate that. I read someone saying recently that the Windows Store iCloud app integrates with Explorer (and is based on the Windows OneDrive client) so that files can be downloaded on demand rather than mirroring the entire thing, which means it has more powerful file management features than iCloud on the Mac. Again, this is something you need to check out.

What I understood was if I had two macs connected to the same icloud account, iCloud Photo Library would keep both macs up to date with all photos. My laptop would not have the originals downloaded, but a mac mini would be set to download the originals, and then I would have a process that backs up the Photos Library to another server. Is that the case?

If that is true, then I was wondering if I could have two separate user accounts on that mac mini, each signed into their own icloud and downloading all the originals from their own icloud library. Would both users stay constantly in sync, or would only the current logged in user receive new photos taken, etc…

As I said, Apple states that iCloud doesn’t let you “back up” images per se, it moves the original images to the cloud and manages them (and keeps backups on servers around the world) as the canonical files; if you delete an image that’s available on all devices (from your phone or iPad or Mac or Windows box), it deletes the original which resides in the cloud, and then the copies on devices get deleted too.

The cloud has the master list, you see a copy of the master list. You delete anything from the Mac and it gets deleted from the master list and disappears everywhere.

Everything is based on the master, original files which are in the cloud.

Only the user(s) that are currently logged in would receive the updates.

Incidentally though, I mean users. Mac is a multi-user system, so multiple users could be logged in at the same time. I’m not sure whether or not both users would sync simultaneously though, mostly due to Apple’s power management stuff working behind the scenes.

On a pure *NIX system there wouldn’t be any issue at all.

I believe that they would, but you’d have to log in to each account every time the machine was rebooted, using Fast User Switching.

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