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?


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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