Protect prized photos
Don’t rely on iCloud — here’s how to back up your Photos library
We love iCloud Photo Library. Being able to take a photo on an iPhone and see it instantly on your Mac or the kids’ iPad is one of those magical moments that makes us love Apple. But for all its benefits, iCloud Photo Library — or iCloud Photos, as it’s called in iOS 12 and macOS Mojave — is a lousy backup.
That’s because it isn’t actually intended as one. iCloud’s job is to sync changes between your devices, so you can access any of your photos on any of your devices at any time, and changes you make in one place take effect elsewhere too. However, if an image is damaged in one place, that’ll propagate, and without another backup — one that’s detached from iCloud — the picture may be gone forever.
Accidental deletion is less of a concern, but still a real one. Deleted items are retained in the Recently Deleted album for up to 40 days, but that’s an awfully precarious peg on which to hang irreplaceable, once–in–a–lifetime pics.
The solution is simple: back up your photos. As you’ll discover in this tutorial, it’s easy to copy some or all of your Photos library from your Mac to an external drive. You can just as easily automate the process with a tool like Carbon Copy Cloner ($39.99, bombich.com).
The trick to backing up anything on your Mac is to do it regularly and to add redundancy, so if one backup were to fail all is not completely lost. One simple way to do that is to auto–upload to another cloud service: it’s much slower than an external drive, but it’s an extra bit of off–site insurance.
Third–party apps such as Flickr Downloadr can easily help recover your uploaded pics.