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Photos working from external hard drive? #1
Milo's picture
by Milo
June 3, 2015 - 4:59pm

If Photos can help me keep all my photos managed, I’d like to use it without cloud storage. Would anyone recommend using an external hard drive and then maybe cloud for just the photos you want on there? I’d love it if I could put everything on a thunderbolt hard drive and swap it between my macbook pro and iMac. Cloud storage isn’t working for me but maybe by not using it, Photos has a future for people with giant libraries? 

Would Photos work on 2 computers using the same external hard drive?

Thomas Emmerich's picture
by Thomas Emmerich
June 5, 2015 - 10:53am

It should work but I haven’t tried it. There’s the potential for permissions problems unless you enable “ignore ownership” in the Get Info window for the external drive. I don’t know for sure if you need this for a Photos library but it was necessary for an Aperture library.

Thomas

pondball's picture
by pondball
June 12, 2015 - 5:51am

Milo… have you tried this yet? I’m in the same boat, not wanting, or in my case not being able to use iCloud storage for my Photos library. Horrible HiSpeed where I live.

My MBPro is much newer than my iMac and I’d prefer to do most of my work on the MBP but don’t want to make it the main host of the Photos Library. I’d prefer if I could just have an external Drive, or two etc, hosting the main library. Then if I’m on a road trip I could take the external drives with me and still be able to work on the main library.

Is that even possible? It would be the perfect solution for me and sounds like it might be a possible for you too?

If you don't have a solution you don't have a problem!

Milo's picture
by Milo
June 15, 2015 - 5:24pm

I sort of tested that and I believe it works. Put the library on an external and then opened it from both my computers. That might be a very very good solution! No cloud but very good file management. I’m try LightRoom right now. It’s a lot of work but better than Photos because I can see my photos in any program…not hidden.

pondball's picture
by pondball
June 22, 2015 - 2:10pm

Hi Milo

I’ve considered Lightroom too but don’t want to get tied into a subscription fee to Adobe. I’m kinda banking on this being the v1 Photos that has the essentials and continues to grow as the needs are presented… in my case bringing in some better file management options similar to Aperture and Lightroom would be a great start.

In the meantime I’m going to pick up a 2 - 3 TB external USB drive that I can connect to my network through my Airport Extreme. I’m hoping that I can then access is from whichever computer I’m on, adding to the library from those same machines. That may be the sticky part… being able to add to one library from various macs. 

Then when I’m on the road I can simply take the HD with me and keep it up to date with travel photos etc, saving memory problems (mine, not the computers) by doing so. It would be nice to have SSD capabilities in the drive to make for quicker access but not so sure its affordable at this time! 

I’d also then keep one of the backups of the Library on another old mac on the network.

I’m thinking a powered external would be the one to get as the APExtreme probably wouldn’t be able to power it by itself?

If you don't have a solution you don't have a problem!

jollyllama's picture
by jollyllama
June 22, 2015 - 4:14pm

Unless you’re using an ethernet connection, this solution is likely going to be unusably slow. I’d definitely test it out with a small library and a hard drive you have lying around before you spend any money on it.

pondball's picture
by pondball
June 22, 2015 - 7:11pm

HI Jollyllama

thanks for the heads up… so if I got a drive that is both ethernet and USB ready and then hooked it up at home to my AirPort Extreme network by ethernet, then when needed for travel by USB… would that work? I’m not sure if the MBPro has an ethernet connect or adapter or not… else I could just hook it up vie ethernet there as well?

If you don't have a solution you don't have a problem!

mikebhm's picture
by mikebhm
June 27, 2015 - 3:19pm

You can definitely have a managed Photos Lib on an external and move it between computers, provided the computers have the same OS version. I have done this.

What you can’t do is be selective about just putting some photos on the cloud. Once you make a library the system library (i.e. the iCloud Photo Library) all the photos go to the cloud. You can’t chose which.

However, since only consolidated (=managed) photos go to the cloud, in theory you could have a mixed managed and referenced Photos library, where you only consolidate the ones you want on the cloud and keep the rest referenced. 

I have tried this and don’t feel that Photos has the tools needed to really make this work yet. You need to be able consolidate and relocate masters, and locate referenced files, like Aperture can.

pondball's picture
by pondball
June 27, 2015 - 4:31pm

Thanks Mike

I presently have Yosemite on my MBPro and will be upgrading my iMac 27” to Yosemite as well… once I get the additional RAM installed.

I don’t want to hijack Milo’s thread here but thought it was a similar question so rather than open up a new thread have stuck with posting in this one. However if a moderator, or Milo wishes me to continue this in a new thread I’ll oblige.

Having said that I also have been toying with a different approach… and one that Milo may find interesting and perhaps pertinent to his original question.

Rather than trying to work my DAM within Photos like was possible with Aperture and could be possible through Lightroom (but which I’m trying to stay away from) I’m thinking of simply uploading my photos as RAW (Nikon .nef) files to a specific partition on an external 2 or 3 TB HD. This would provide me with the Finder like setup that would also allow me to search and more importantly view from the Finder itself, rather than within Photos. It would also allow me to bring my photo files with me when on the road.

Next I could view and cull them more quickly through my stand alone photo editing program, Perfect Photo Suite 9.5. I could do this in the Perfect Browse module. I would then be able to edit them as necessary in whichever of the other PPS 9.5 modules I wished (Effects, Layers, B/W etc) before… … …moving them to Photos from within PPS itself. I’ve done this with a few photos that I would deem ones that I would want in my Photos Library and the iCloud Photos Library. Later, I could then delete them from the Photos Libraries when I grew tired of them or had shown them to whomever it was I needed to show them to.

Within Perfect Photo Suite I can create albums and transfer edited files as albums as well.

Using this DAM I can make backups of the entire photo file library or just individual folders of files more easily and without having to over-populate my Photos Library, or iCloud Photo Library.

What do you think?

If you don't have a solution you don't have a problem!

mikebhm's picture
by mikebhm
June 27, 2015 - 7:36pm

“Later, I could then delete them from the Photos Libraries when I grew tired of them or had shown them to whomever it was I needed to show them to.”

This is the bit I could never do. Recent photos are interesting because they are topical. Then they go through a so-so phase, then some years later they become “old” photos and become really interesting. My grandkids love seeing pics of their parents as children. So I never delete photos because they are no longer current. 

Your approach is similar to what I mentioned. Mixed managed and referenced so that only some are in the cloud. But to avoid deleting them I would want to move them back to being referenced…which you can do in Aperture but not Photos.

pondball's picture
by pondball
June 27, 2015 - 8:13pm

The thing I like about Photos is it easily allows me to share my photos with family and friends… and also gives me the ability to easily create books and slideshows. I’m hoping archiving such items and/or later moving them to referenced status will become part of a future Photos update.

In PPS 9.5 it looks like I can still allocate up to 5 stars as in Aperture, can put my photos in folders and/or albums and best of all it looks like the Perfect Browse module will allow me to view all photos quickly and cull and separate the ones I want to immediately work on from the ones I don’t want.

With the other modules built into PPS Im hoping I can do most if not all of my editing there, then use Photos as my presentation program, using a smaller iCloud Photos Library across my devices.

When I said I would delete them I meant not permanently everywhere but just from my iCloud/Photos Library… at least until my brutal hispeed/bandwidth issues get solved.

Now I have to decide if I want to spring for an ethernet HD or a USB one. From what I’ve read and been told, I believe connecting an external HD to my Airport Extreme using ethernet will provide far quicker access than if its an external USB HD. But a USB one would be more portable… just another conundrum! SSD would be nice too!

Just thinking that with this setup I could easily connect an external Ethernet HD to my AirPortExtreme and when portability was required then I’d  simply transfer the files I needed to either a smaller SSD drive or if not too many were required to my iCloud Library.

Open to suggestions as usual.

If you don't have a solution you don't have a problem!

mikebhm's picture
by mikebhm
June 28, 2015 - 12:30am

Personally I would opt for a direct USB 3 external drive, provided your Mac has USB 3.

Some photo apps have limitations working on photos on network storage, and I can’t see how a USB 3 drive connected to an AEBS can be faster than a USB 3 drive connected direct to a USB 3 computer. But I am no expert on network drives never having found a personal need for them.

I have two large legacy Aperture Libraries (150k and 60k pics) which I have converted to referenced Photos libraries. A copy of each library lives on each of my two laptops and the referenced masters are on a 2Tb USB 3 external. Most of the time all I want is to look at or show photos from these legacy libraries so I don’t need the masters connecting. On the rare occasions when I want to export or mail a photo I can connect the external to either machine.

My system library (iCloud Photos Library) is a third library for everything from 2015 onwards.

I am still experimenting with best setups. What Photos really needs is the ability to relocate masters both ways, and reconnect with referenced files, like Aperture. Without those it is very easy to get into a dead end…so stay well backed up while finding your best set up!

pondball's picture
by pondball
June 28, 2015 - 5:57am

Great points and advice MIke

I’ll do a little more Q&A about PPS to see how it handles networked drives. Unfortunately my older iMac is USB 2 only but most modern USB drives are both USB2/USB3 ready aren’t they. So I hope that means I could swap it back and forth between them if required. If I hosted the USB drive directly from my iMac (2TB) which is never moved that might solve one problem.

Having only barely started in Aperture before Apple killed it (sadly) I am still getting my head around which would be best for me… referenced or managed. My file numbers are nowhere near what yours are else I imagine I’d be in a real mess right now. However I do have some very old vintage macs sitting around with years of (probably not very good quality but still memorable) photos sitting on them. The macs themselves have issues but I figure I can strip out the old drives and populate my old mirrored mac to somehow harvest the photos I want from old iPhoto libraries then discard the old drives.

I think the issue related to your comment “What Photos really needs is the ability to relocate masters both ways, and reconnect with referenced files, like Aperture. Without those it is very easy to get into a dead end…so stay well backed up while finding your best set up!” will be in synching my files should I pursue the DAM I’m looking at. I suspect I will have to finally determine which set is my Master set and then use all others as backups. 

“My system library (iCloud Photos Library) is a third library for everything from 2015 onwards”

This sounds like what I want to do with my current set as well… perhaps including photos from yesteryear as well.

Question… I suspect you shoot in Raw…

  • In your scenario are all your RAW files stored in your referenced Archives?
  • Do you import direct from camera/card to Photos now or just upload to designated folders on your laptops?
  • What happens, with two referenced libraries on two separate laptops to files you edit on one laptop? Do you have a way of synching them with the other laptop?

If you don't have a solution you don't have a problem!

mikebhm's picture
by mikebhm
June 28, 2015 - 6:12am
  • In your scenario are all your RAW files stored in your referenced Archives?
  • Do you import direct from camera/card to Photos now or just upload to designated folders on your laptops?
  • What happens, with two referenced libraries on two separate laptops to files you edit on one laptop? Do you have a way of synching them with the other laptop?

-I mostly shoot jpegs nowadays but there are about 20k RAW files in the two referenced libs and some in the current managed Photos iCloud Lib. So there are RAW in both referenced and managed.

-I import new photos direct to Photos from the SD cards.

-This is indeed the problem with my two big legacy libs. I used to do the same with Aperture and could sync the libraries (one way at a time) between the two Macs with Chronosync and Aperture was quite happy. Doesn’t seem to work with Photos. So I accept that small differences may creep in between the same library on each computer. Since these are legacy libraries and I really only look at and show them I am not too bothered about this, but it does bug me a bit. 

pondball's picture
by pondball
June 28, 2015 - 6:18am

thanks again Mike

I’ve also checked into some of the tech questions over at on1 to see what they have to say about the DAM I’ve proposed (with modifications after your comments). Wouldn’t it have been so much easier if Apple hadn’t buried Aperture?

If you don't have a solution you don't have a problem!

mikebhm's picture
by mikebhm
June 28, 2015 - 6:31am

“Wouldn’t it have been so much easier if Apple hadn’t buried Aperture?”

 

Sure would! BUT I do love how current Photos lib (the iCloud Lib) syncs everything between all computers and iDevices. Because of this I am willing to struggle to find ways to overcome Photos’ shortcomings compared to Aperture. I am sure Photos is going to improve.

I meant to comment before that yes USB 3 is backwards compatible to USB 2, but USB3 drives connected to a USB 2 machine will operate at USB 2 speed and seem paralytically slow.

If you have photos scattered across old machines, in your position I would invest in a couple of modern high capacity USB3 drives and, as you say, harvest them into one place by exporting from iPhoto or whatever. 

mikebhm's picture
by mikebhm
June 28, 2015 - 10:31pm

I may have been doing Photos a disservice….

I have just been doing some reorganising, and find Photos does have ability to bulk reconnect with its referenced files. If you rename or move the referenced folder, then try and edit a photo it will say it can’t find and ask where it is. Previously (for me, I thought) it would reconnect with that one photo only after being pointed at new location. Seems today that it actually reconnects all. There is no indication that it it is doing it, or a progress bar, and it takes quite a long time, but the clue is to watch the CPU usage which is very high until process complete.

In one case I renamed and moved the folder containing the referenced files, and Photos followed it without a manual connect.

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