Photo management for a friend

A non-tech friend has asked me to help her manage her photos.

Guessing she’ll be only “iPhone & cloud” and may not dust off and use her old Macbook Pro. to keep a central library/back-up.

What is the best way to ensure ALL the photos stay in the cloud and she can delete them on her phone (without deleting them on the cloud)?

And, does anyone have experience with iCloud for Windows? … That is where I probably will need to point her.

My big fear is having her upload all the photos from her phone to the cloud; then having her delete all the photos on her phone and they disappear EVERYWHERE!

She bought the smallest capacity iPhone during the black Friday sales and wants to take photos; then free up space on the phone and take & upload more photos.

I don’t manage photos this way; so have limited experience.

Later, she plans to buy an Apple TV to show off albums, etc. on their television and I’m sure she’ll want to share photos with her mother, etc.

Y’all know the dangers of helping someone with their system(s). If she accidentally deletes and loses kid photos, etc., it’ll be my “job” to recover them.

I’ve been reading about how to set this up for her in Windows here:

I’d LOVE a central-management system for myself and I’m re-listening to the Photo Management show as I type this post (#255: and Photo Management, May 11th, 2015). Reading the thread here titled, “What are you using to manage your photos?” … Maybe, for me, Lightroom may become an answer… Just not fond of subscription services for software.

For my friend: David and Katy seem to stress that it’s a great idea to choose a main computer to be that local back-up. … I think so too. Will prob. get her onto her PC w/ the Apple Photo app.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

P.S. “Taking a leap” (of faith) and turned on iCloud photos on my Mac!

Best free option for newbies, where all your photos are on ‘cloud’ and not on phone … even not even those little thumbnails iCloud insists on keeping on your iPhone for each of your photos? Take a look at Google Photos, which also offers optional background auto background photo transfer/backup with its iOS app.

Google Photos lets you back up an unlimited number of photos and videos, provided you’re prepared to put up with a little bit of resizing (images must be a maximum of 16 megapixels and videos top out at 1080p). If you want original, untouched uploads or you have RAW images, then the app uses Google Drive storage space and charges. (Everyone gets 15GB for free on Google Drive, and upgrade prices start at 100GB for $1.99 a month.) Works well with Windows too, and sharing is pretty simple. Google Photos lets you AirPlay from an iPhone to an Apple TV too.

For newbies who are not shooting RAW images (with a DSLR, or a camera app like Halide that has a RAW option), Google’s unlimited free tier is the best option going. Just be aware of what you’re giving Google in exchange.

Once you look at non-free options, iCloud storage will give you 5GB for free (most people will fill up that space with photos fairly quickly) then pricing tiers are pretty similar between iCloud and Google Drive, and your friend will be paying monthly/yearly cloud fees for eternity. iCloud Photos works such that the canonical database of photos lives in the cloud and you can delete them after from your other devices, but you will retain tiny little thumbnails for all images on those devices to peruse (thousands and thousands eventually) - doesn’t take up too much space but still…

Personally, I’m not a newbie, and I don’t need everpresent, instant access to all my pics, so I periodically connect my iPhone to my Mac, and suck the photos up in Photos/Mac (with the checkbox selected to then delete those images from my iPhone), and I use my backup process (an external backup drive backed up with Carbon Copy Cloner, plus cloud backup from BackBlaze), and I don’t use iCloud Photos at all. Never did. Not interested. But for relatives with Macs and iPhones I always recommended Google Photos as their best free option.

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@TimInHouston - While ICloud Photos is great, one issue is that of the photo management. She will need to be aware that if she deletes a picture on her phone it is deleting it everywhere unless she creates a local album. At least that is my understanding,

The nice thing about ICloud photos is that you have all your pictures with you all the time. She will need to likely purchase a higher memory tier for iCloud. When she needs the photo, it will be downloaded to her phone for her.

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And the ones she took ages ago/viewed the least recently will automatically be offloaded from her device, albeit not in the most visible manner. Personally I’d recommend she just get iCloud storage and take photos without thinking of deleting them (except the random “photo of a thing so I buy the right other thing” pictures of course).

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iCloud Photo Library uploads original, full-resolution photos but optionally stores smaller, optimized copies on each device. If you have iCloud Photo Library’s “Download and keep originals” function turned on, photos that are deleted from iPhone will be deleted from iCloud automatically. But if “Optimize iPhone Storage” is turned on with iCloud Photos on, photos can’t be deleted from your iPhone or iCloud at all because the original photos are actually stored on iCloud.

With iCloud Photo Library, your photo library is stored in the cloud and visible in your account on the iCloud website and on a fourth-generation or later Apple TV; the Photos app on your individual Mac(s) and iOS device(s) can store copies of all those photos (space permitting)—optionally optimized to save space, with full-resolution originals available for download on demand, and your Windows PC can also store full copies of everything.

Old but good overview from Joe Kissell here:

That said, I still recommend newbies get the all-you-can-eat photos upload library offered by Google Photos.

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That exactly is the point: if you’re not paying for it, you ARE the product!

So I would be very, very cautious with anything Google offers you for your private data.

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Sometimes, not always. Read the article I referred to there. Google is not using your photo data for advertising purposes. This can change, but they have quite clear about if for the three years it’s been around that they are using image and location metadata overall for AI-based improvements, and if terms change you’ll be told and therefore be able to leave before if you want. In this case your data is the mulch for their garden, whether you are a product is not even the right question.

Google does not always monetize all their products. Google Keep has no advertising whatsoever and doesn’t use your data, and Google Voice does not advertise or use data to target you either.

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Actually I think that is not entirely true.

Google analyses the photos and assigns them metadata that can be used to build a better picture of the user, which is then used to serve more relevant adverts. And of course, more relevant adverts mean more clicks and more money for Google.

Whatever they “give” away needs to be paid for somehow, and so all data that can be gathered about you helps them monitize.

That does not invalidate google photos as a good choice for photos in the cloud. It just means I can, and will, never use the service.

There are no adverts in google Photos, and Google states that they do not use the metadata to target you elsewhere. Same for Google Keep. Like I said, it’s their business model, but not in this instance, and hasn’t been for the 3 years since Google Photos was introduced.

This isn’t true. Even with optimize storage turned on, deleting a photo on any device will remove it from iCloud and the device. Albeit they stay in a recently deleted album for 30 days before going away completely.

You are correct, and I was not as clear as I should have been. When Optimize Storage is checked, your iPhone or iPad will locally store only the latest images and video you’ve shot or viewed; the others live up in iCloud, ready to be downloaded when you need them — and not taking up storage space when you don’t, showing you a low-res thumbnail image og the pic that can be downloaded at will. If you delete the placeholder thumbnail photo that remains when using O.S. you will send the images into a trash which gets deleted in 30 days unless you go to and change your mind.

That’s what I was referring to in my first post, about having potentially thousands of small thumbnails on your device when you use iCloud Photos.

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I get your argument, and am sure at the moment you’re right.
Maybe it is just me, but I don’t trust Google with my personal data all that much.

I don’t either, and I don’t use Google Photos.

But I don’t use iCloud Photos either.

For the OP who wants to set up a newbie friend who lives in Windows but bought an iPhone, I think Google Photos is currently the easiest setup, it’s free, and there’s no reason not to take advantage of it since it’s not (yet) targeting people by using their metadata on them.

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Thank you all for so many Great ideas!!

I just had another thought (Bad).

They have young children who use iPads – I think they’re all-in-one plan/one account right now.

Could their kids accidentally delete the online photo archives if they go the iCloud route or can they delete the Photos app from the kids’ iPads, etc?

I’ve got to get them to a “belt & suspenders” backup plan (for everything)!

Like many of you, I do something different w/ my photos – I am only a little over half-way done uploading my photo library (2 1/2 days in) to start experimenting myself.

Theoretically yes. I would highly recommend helping them switch to family sharing first, and then sorting the photos out - whichever photo solution they go with.

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I 100% agree with @RosemaryOrchard.
Having the children on separate accounts if they have their own hardware would be my recommendation.

Putting them on family sharing and their own icloud accounts would also enable the parents to use parental controls and it should then be easy to control access to data from then on.

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Thank you @RosemaryOrchard and @JKoopmans!!

I’ve never set up a family before (at least not with Apple photos, etc.) and they are looking for a lot of parental controls. I was looking at the eero system for them; but Google’s mesh system gets a lot of positive reviews (and adds some more parental control/Internet safety, etc.).

Tried “Step 1” helping the friend. Not successful.

We’ve set her Photo app to back up to the cloud and it has backed up about 12 GB, going back to 2012. But she has about 98 GB of photos on her phone.

There’s very recent items and a smattering of old, but certainly not every photo.

We tried to do this via phone only (her laptop’s hard drive is pretty much full).

Any idea what coild be keeping the majority of her photos from backing up?

TimInHouston. Houston We Have A Problem. The first item to understand with moving large Photo files to iCloud is that it WILL take a long time. When I moved my Photos it ran for a few days. Also don’t try to move the Photos from two sources such as a MacBook and an iPhone it will just confuse things. The full hard drive on the Mac doesn’t help things either. Can she get a larger hard drive or SSD installed? Another option maybe is to move the Photos file onto an external hard dive. You can use a program called PowerPhotos from to move the Photos file as one large file of break it up into smaller pieces.

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