Getting my photos in check

I’ve been using iCloud for my photos now for a while. It’s been OK but it’s always bothered me that I don’t have the pictures locally. Also I had couple of old HDs with pictures that weren’t in uploaded to the iCloud. I also have a pretty good NAS which has been out of use for some time. So a plan formed in my head

  1. Merge all of my pictures
  2. Sort them in a nice folder structure
  3. Store them to my NAS
  4. Upload them to some cloud service

NAS comes into play

My NAS is Synology DS213j with 2 x 2TB RAID configuration. Fortunately it supports ssh and a wide range of programming languages. My first step was to merge all of my pictures so I started by downloading my iCloud library to my Macbook Air. It took quite a while and the export from apple photos to the NAS took even more time. Think days instead of hours.

So finally I had my iCloud library exported to my NAS and all other photo sources as well. What I needed now is a tool to merge all of my pictures without making duplicates and a nice folder structure would be a plus. After some research + trial and error I ended up at

https://github.com/andrewning/sortphotos

And I can tell you that little python script was a god send. It had all the features and configurability I needed. Basically what I planned was that I run it through all of my picture locations with the same parameters and it would take care that I wouldn’t end up with a bunch duplicate photos and that I got my pictures organized into folders. First though I needed to do some cleaning. Synology indexing had created a bunch of thumbnail directories and to get rid of them I basically run a one line find xargs command like this.

find . -type d -name "@eaDir" -print0 | xargs -0 rm -rf

Now the directories that had been indexed by the NAS were clear of thumbnails I didn’t need.

So now I could go on with the merge. Basically I just run

python sortphotos.py /Users/Me/MessyDirectory /Users/Me/Pictures -r --sort %Y-%m-%d --rename %Y_%m_%d_%H_%M

for all my directories and ended up with a nice folder structure containing all of my photos and no duplicates. I was very pleased.

For my next trick, Cloud storage

For cloud storage I decided to go with google photos. I had some experience with it and I liked how the service had evolved.

First thought was to sync the photos using my desktop gaming PC and google photos backup. But then I noticed that google drive had an Google photos directory. After initial testing I saw that pictures in the google drive photo folder were synced to google photos as well. Great. And it was extra great since synology NASes have cloud sync.

https://www.synology.com/en-global/knowledgebase/DSM/help/CloudSync/cloudsync

It enables the NAS to sync it’s storage with the cloud and since google drive is supported it seemed the perfect solution.

I setup the cloud sync to a new directory in the NAS and selected only Google photos folder for bidirectional syncing. So now I had a empty google photos directory in my NAS (I needed a little empty touch file magic to get it to appear since it was completely empty…just upload one photo to drive’s google photos directory that’s it.). Then it was just a case of moving the photos

mv /Users/Me/Pictures/* /Users/Me/sync/Google Photos/

And that’s all she wrote. As I’m writing this the NAS is still uploading my photos (all 80 GB of them).

So what have I accomplished

  1. Now my iPhone photos will be backed up to google photos through Google photos app and then downloaded to my NAS via the cloud sync. Plus I save a lot of space on my phone.
  2. All my camera photos which I will import to my NAS’s sync directory will be uploaded to Google drive -> Google photos

So basically I have just what I wanted. A local storage with RAID and a cloud backup + access to all of my photos from the internet. This really is a quite a step up from the iCloud mess. I don’t mean to say that iCloud is bad it’s just unclear and I don’t like the fact that I don’t have local copies + the tie up to apple’s photos app library structure is bad.

At the end of the day it took a lot of time (processing 80GB of images with NAS CPU is not fast) but

I have never been happier with my photos situation than I am now

I hope this blog inspires and helps others to organize and backup their photos as well.