FINALLY – Apple iCloud Photos & Photo Syncing – One Month later and Resolved

I had a plan, a master plan to use all Apple’s Cloud services with my new iPhone 6S Plus. It was an ill conceived plan as I realise now, but the light at the end of the tunnel finally arrived at 10pm last night.

Back tracking, my saga using iCloud Photos and iTunes Match has not been a fun affair and it most certainly just didn’t work. Since receiving my 6S Plus on 25th September I have had nothing but a nightmare experience with iCloud Photos and iTunes Match.

I have several Apple support incident numbers and have lost many an hour of my spare time with the support staff at Apple. Apple have remote accessed by MacBook Pro so many times too.

I had decided last week to permanently not use iCloud Photos sync, and a few weeks before that, unravelled the mess iTunes Match had created. Well actually Apple support resolved the chaos caused by iTunes Match. I do think part of the problem is my 0.5mbit upload speed being too slow for Apple’s servers but I can’t be the only person with a slowish upload speed in the world. Anyway, I still had My Photostream and iCloud Photo Sharing enabled but finally relented and turned these off after updating to iOS 9.1 on Wednesday.

Yesterday and Saturday, I took some photos. Cut a long story short, my iPhone 6S Plus would not import photos into the mac using a lightning cable. The Photos app would register the iPhone but show grey outline boxes instead of the pictures, and then the iPhone would disappear from Photos, yet remain showing as connected in iTunes. So 3 hours on the phone to a senior Apple support person, various tests done to eliminate what was causing the problem, and it turns out it was my iPhone that was the culprit. So I wisely insisted to the Apple support guy that I did a manual back up of my iPhone to iTunes on my MacBook. Note if you use homekit and the health app, YOU MUST ENCRYPT your backup to save this data. In fact, even though I use iCloud Backup, it is worth doing a manual backup to iTunes on your mac once a week as the backup to your mac is more comprehensive and can save the health and home kit data, whereas iCloud Backup doesn’t save the health and home kit data. (the backup most be encrypted to save this data).

The phone was put in to recovery mode, a new firmware was downloaded and installed. The phone was then restored as a new phone, a few camera shots taken, then tested to see if sync worked, and it did. Good news. Hard reset phone and started again, this time restoring from the backup on my MacBook. This took 12 hours to complete. BUT the iTunes restore is pure genius. Everything is reinstated, including app data in full with just a few passwords in some apps and Viewranger GPS needed the maps redownloaded. Other than that it was restored perfectly.

So after 12 hours restoring, a quick test taking some photos, tried a sync with the cable, and it didn’t work. Grrrrrrr.

Then I had a thought. I noticed there were photos in the camera roll and this would have been different to the iPhone setup as a new iPhone, and maybe something had corrupted the camera roll, so I deleted all these 60 photos. Took a new shot, tried to sync and voila it worked. And repeated the test and it continued to work. So what this meant was the wiping my phone, spending 12 hours restoring was not necessary. All I had needed to do was to have deleted the photos in the camera roll. I put this corruption down to iCloud Photos and My Photostream doing something it shouldn’t.

Oh well, it now just works now!

If I do get any more issues, I will either just use Photosync app to wirelessly transfer photos or ask Apple to look at replacing my iPhone for another. I don’t wont to spoil the enjoyment of the iPhone any more with support calls etc, as it really is superb to use. My advice, just don’t use iCloud Photos. For my sanity, I am now using Google Photos as a backup solution.

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