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How Do I Backup Photo Library Separate From iCloud?

I have been using the Photos app, but not using iCloud Photo. I have my System Photo Library, and I also have an “archive” photo library that includes older photos on an external drive. When necessary to use an older photo, I choose the archive library with the Option key when I start up the Photos app, copy the photo to the desktop, quit Photos, restart Photos with the System Photo Library, and add the photo to that library.

I want to begin using iCloud Photo and include all photos in the system library, but maintain a master backup of all my photos on the external drive. My question is: would I experience any problems or inconveniences if I were to periodically turn off iCloud, which would cause the original photos to revert to my computer drive, export a copy of the current System Photo Library to the external drive (replacing the previous out of date copy), then turn iCloud back on?

I do know that the process of turning iCloud off, then back on again, will create an “iCloud Drive – (Archive)” folder in my user home folder that I would need to delete after this procedure. But, is there an easier way to back up a library containing full-size copies of the photos on an external drive?

The purpose of this process would be to assure that all my photos (or at least most of them) are safe from any problems involving Apple’s servers involving iCloud. Certainly, an external drive would also be subject to damage in any number of ways, but this process would just provide a redundancy.
Ron B.

Comments: 2 Responses to “How Do I Backup Photo Library Separate From iCloud?”

    2 years ago

    Do not switch off and on iCloud Photos to do this. That would create a lot of opportunity for problems and take a lot of time and bandwidth. And there is simply no need to do it.

    Just turn off the "Optimize Mac Storage" feature in Photos, Settings, iCloud. Use "Download Originals to this Mac" instead. When you do that, all of your photos are in your library all of the time. It acts exactly like you want, but 100% of the time. No need to switch anything on or off. This is how I use it on my desktop Mac which has plenty of internal drive space.

    Then use Time Machine to backup as normal. At any time if you want to make a second backup, just drag and drop the while .photoslibrary file to an external drive.

    Ronald Bozeman
    2 years ago

    Thanks, Gary! I've just recently discovered MacMost, an uncommonly useful Mac resource.

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