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That is to say, does a photo uploaded to Photo Stream and/or a Shared Photo Space take up twice or thrice the space on my phone, or does each instance point to the same single data store?

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Yes one copy is stored for each "service" (for lack of a better word). So if it exists in your Camera Roll, Photo Stream, and a shared Photo Stream, there are three physical files on your phone.

  • My impression is the Camera Roll on iOS 6 is the authoritative copy and when the device runs low on storage, the OS will purge temporary files. In my experience, Photo Stream photos will self-delete when storage gets low, so having a second copy cached locally seems to only happen when there is room to spare. – bmike Sep 2 '13 at 19:30
  • Meaning that it would still show up in Photo Stream but just as a pointer to the file in Camera Roll? What happens if it is erased from Camera Roll and the system self-deletes photos from Photo Stream? Would it no longer show up on the device at all? – tubedogg Sep 2 '13 at 19:35
  • At risk of hijacking the thread, my guess is it's not linked file or pointer. The self deletion only affects the cached copy and does not send a delete event to the cloud storage. In that case, you would re-download the file once space freed up (or get it into iPhoto / another device whether or not the one device with low storage ever re-downloads it.) – bmike Sep 2 '13 at 20:04

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