How to Backup Photos on Mac

How to Backup Photos on Mac

Photos are an important part of people’s everyday life, so it is better to back them up or archive not to lose anything. If you import your photos and images to Photos or iPhoto, backup your Libraries regularly. Even if you don’t have some importance for work files there, make sure that your memories won’t vanish.

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Here are options for doing that:


Use Time Machine

When using a built-in tool Time Machine, photo libraries are automatically backed up. However, if your backups are programmed for each month, you may want to save your photos more often, for example, once a week. Here are the reasons:


Additional Photo Library Backups

Time Machine is really great at creating photo backups, but it is not an archive. When there are many old photos, it deletes them to clear the disk space for newer images. This is the normal function of this backup tool in case something goes wrong and your Mac is dead. Still, if you want to have long-term copies of your images and want to have a look at them after 10 years pass, you may need another option.
After you upload photos from the camera to your Mac, you usually erase them from the flash drive in camera and the originals are saved only on your Mac. See the problem now? There are no copies, nothing will be saved if something happens to your Mac.

Here is how to save your images for a long time:


Manual backups of Photos or iPhoto

First of all, use a USB flash drive or an external drive to make a copy of all your images. So, here is how to manually make a copy:

  1. Find the location of iPhoto or Photos library. Open Finder, select ‘Pictures’ and find either ‘Photos Library’ or ‘iPhoto Library’. You can have both of them in case you use both applications. Cope that files (or one of the files) to your new location, which may be an external disk or a USB drive.
  2. Don’t overwrite your backups as it may cause problems with the archival process. Give a unique name to each photo to eliminate this kind of issue.
  3. If you have several libraries, ensure you have copied all the files from them. As you know, the Photos application supports multiple libraries, so any of them can be copied similar to the general library.


Images Not from Photo Libraries

The Photos app allows users to store images outside the libraries. Reference images are usually stores not only on Mac but also on a USB flash drive, an external drive or any other device.
This is very convenient, however, they may cause problems while creating backups.
It means that you need to keep in mind the location of every referenced file to back them up with other photos from your libraries. Still, you can move them to libraries and to backup everything at once. Here is how to move your reference files to libraries:

  1. Find ‘Photos’ in your Applications folder and launch it.
  2. Select the images you want to move to the Library.
  3. Go to ‘File’ and select ‘Consolidate’.
  4. Click on the ‘Copy’ button.

In case you don’t remember where your referenced images are, and what images are already in Library, select all the images and click ‘Consolidate’ in ‘File’. After that, use the backup manual process shown above.

Backing Up with Apps

Third-party apps can handle this task faster and more effectively, what’s more, you won’t have any headaches connected to finding all the files manually. There are many apps that can manage this, for example, Carbon Copy Cloner, but it is not the only one.
In any case, I hope your photos will be kept safe on an external drive.