iCloud photos upload extremely slow

I recently in my photos app and the upload is going extremely slowly, as in less than 100 photos per day.

MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Mid 2014) running Big Sur, 11.7.2 - I just checked for updates, and looks like I’m a bit behind, with 11.7.6 available. Will update and report back if things improve.

In the meantime, photos tells me I have 36,296 photos, and on April 20, it reported uploading 33,822. This makes sense, since my iPhone is already in iCloud, and I sync my iPhone to the computer.
Today is a couple weeks, and photos is now reporting 32,499 uploaded. So a whopping 1,323 uploaded!

Anyone have thoughts on why it would be so slow?

Software update didn’t change anything. About 40 more photos uploaded since last night…

I have a few thousand fewer photos than you in my library. I recall when I first turned on iCloud Photo Library it took days to sort out, not weeks. I was probably on Big Sur at the time but am not completely sure. I can’t recall how many days it took, but it was quite a while. But it averaged several thousand a day, not a hundred.

You might want to prevent system sleep–I recall that seemed to help. Also experiment with whether Photos is open or not overnight and whether it’s in the foreground. If I remember it right it’s non-intuitive–it might be faster letting the agent run while Photos is closed.

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So it seems to be going but reallllly slooooow. Now down to 20,000 to go.

@glennf is fighting with something similar but had to leave on vacation in the middle of in-depth troubleshooting with Apple. One thing he had decent luck with briefly was setting his Mac so that it had only one network interface active, Wi-Fi or Ethernet. Normally there’s no problem using both, but dropping to one helped for a while.

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Years ago, I had a Dell laptop with a wonderful feature that would disable the Wi-Fi interface whenever it detected connectivity on its built-in Ethernet port. So I could leave Wi-Fi on and active, but it would only be used when I’m away from my office. Sadly, I haven’t seen this feature on any other computer.

On my Mac mini, I leave the Wi-Fi active, but disconnected from all networks (disabling the “Automatically join this network” feature). This is in order to let AirDrop work. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth both need to be on in order to use the feature, but Wi-Fi doesn’t have to be connected to any access point.

(And my personal rant - why can’t AirDrop use Ethernet? If my phone is connected to a Wi-Fi network that’s bridged to my wired network, why isn’t that good enough?)

Laptop is just on WiFi, so only one interface active.

I know it’s a bit off-topic, I believe that AirDrop - at least through iOS 16 and Ventura - creates a temporary peer-to-peer connection over WiFi to transmit data. See AirDrop security - Apple Support

I wonder if the new changes to AirDrop may change that, since AirDrop downloads can continue when people separate from each other?

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Yes it does. And it’s important if the devices are not connected to Wi-Fi or if they’re connected to different networks.

But if they’re connected to the same network (even if one or both are wired), then it should be able to support that. Security shouldn’t be a concern, because the devices can generate encryption keys (exchanged over Bluetooth) for use with the IP connection used for the data transfer.

Apple had me try the same thing but the improvement was very short-lived.


Well, something happened last night and I’m now down to 10,000 photos left to process. It’s now doing a few hundred per hour!

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8700 left now.
So the only thing I did that might have given it a kick in the pants is that I decided to attack a couple thousand duplicates that came from my iPhone over the last 6 months. I had WhatsApp configured to automatically save photos and it seemed to create lots of duplicates, that then got on my MacBook when I synced photos. So I used Duplicate Annihilator for Photos a couple days ago to clean things up.
The Annihilator created an album containing all my dupes, I then labeled them and deleted from my library.

294 left to go!

That’s interesting, since I think iCloud Photos does duplicate checking, and I wonder if too many duplicates could cause those processes to slow radically. Worth checking, @glennf!

I don’t have duplicates and the sync is so slow as to be completely useless.