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How to back up iCloud Photo Library – The cloud-based sync service

Apple‘s iCloud Photo Library is a great online backup service, but even online sync services need to be backed up.  iCloud Photo Library service works seamlessly to sync and back up your images and video across all of your devices. But if you’re serious about keeping your irreplaceable photos and video safe, you’ll want a second backup. Because as they always say, better safe than sorry. Backing up your photos can take the form of a local backup on your own drive or an external source, a secondary online backup, or both. Here’s how to do it all.

What you will see?

  • How to back up iCloud Photo Library to your Mac’s hard drive?
  • Back up your iCloud Photo Library content to an external drive
  • Create an external library for backing up iCloud Photo Library
  • How to make an online backup of your Library?
  • Conclusion

How to back up iCloud Photo Library to your Mac’s hard drive?

The best way to back up the images and video in iCloud Photo Library is to make sure you’re downloading all your content onto your Mac. But note that, If you plan to back up your entire digital library to your Mac’s hard drive, you’ll likely want to do it on a desktop Mac with a 1TB drive or higher. Otherwise, consider backing up to an external drive.

  1. Launch the Photos app on your Mac.
  2. Click Photos in the App menu in the upper left corner of your screen.
  3. Select Preferences from the drop-down menu.
  4. Click the iCloud tab.
  5. Click Download Originals to this Mac.

Your Mac will now download full-resolution copies of all your images to your Mac’s hard drive, stored inside your Photos app library.

back up iCloud Photo Library to your Mac's hard drive
back up iCloud Photo Library to your Mac's hard drive
back up iCloud Photo Library to your Mac's hard drive

Back up your iCloud Photo Library content to an external drive

There are two ways to back up your iCloud Photo Library to an external drive: by backing up your Library automatically, or manually. (You can also export sections of your library if you don’t want to back up the whole thing.)

Back up your Photos library automatically

If you’ve turned on the Download Originals option for your Photos library, you can back up your Photos library as part of your regular backup routine. Whether you use Time Machine or clone your hard drive using SuperDuper! or Carbon Copy, your Photos library will be backed up as well. (And if you don’t currently use a backup service, well… now’s a good time to start!)

Back up your Photos library manually

If you’ve turned on the Download Originals option for your Photos library but don’t want to back it up automatically, you can always copy your Photos library to an external drive at regular intervals.

  1. Connect an external drive to your Mac via USB, USB-C, or Thunderbolt.
  2. Open a new Finder window on your Mac.
  3. Click on Pictures in the sidebar.
  4. Drag your Photos Library to your external drive.
  5. Wait for it to copy.
Backup  manually
Backup your manually
Backup manually

Create an external library for backing up iCloud Photo Library

You can set a bi-weekly reminder for these steps, so you keep your Photos library regularly backed up.

How to back up portions of your iCloud Photo Library?

If you don’t want to back up your entire library, you can export individual images and videos to your external drive.

  1. Connect an external drive to your Mac via USB, USB-C, or Thunderbolt.
  2. Open the Photos app.
  3. Select the photos and video you want to back up.
  4. Go to the File menu.
  5. Hover over the Export option.
  6. Select either Export # Photos or Video or Export Unmodified Original for # Photos or Videos.
  7. Select an option for File Name and Subfolder Format, and then input your text as desired.
  8. Press Export.
  9. Choose your external drive.
  10. Press Export Originals.
backup portions of your  iCloud Photo Library
backup portions of your  iCloud Photo Library
 backup portions of your  iCloud Photo Library
 backup portions of your  iCloud Photo Library
 backup portions of your iCloud Photo Library

How to make an online backup of your Library?

Even though your entire Library is stored online in iCloud, it’s worth considering a second online backup as one of your saviours.

Storing your entire Photo Library on your Mac

If you already use a service to back up your hard drive and you’ve synced your full Photo Library to your Mac, it’s easy to back it all up. You can use Backblaze, Carbonite, Arq, or simply any other application.

Not storing your Photo Library on your Mac

If you don’t store your iCloud images locally, this is a bit trickier: you can use the external drive method to export portions of your library to an external drive, then sync that drive to your preferred online backup service, but it’s a bit more labour-intensive. In general, this is why I tend to recommend backing up your full library to your Mac or storing a library on an external drive.

Conclusion

Even though Apple’s iCloud Photo Library is one of the best backup and storage application, it’s not a bad thing to keep a backup of the back. For the rare but not never incompetence of this backup service, it’s better to have a second option. There are a few options for you to choose from about how you want to store your precious images and videos.

Which option do you use to backup your pictures of Library? Do tell us in the comments below.

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