I and my partner have an iPhone which we use for taking pictures. We would like our pictures somewhat combined on a private server (Linux; e.g. NextCloud, WebDAV etc -- scripting/automation on the server is definitely an option). NO iCloud. The "owner" should be preserved.

Ideally, each of our iPhone pictures would just be rsync'ed to a folder on the server. Then we would both find all of our pictures on the server, in separate folders and can use symlinks etc. to organize them.

Nextclouds Auto Upload function seems to come close. However, it's not really reliable. Worse so, it copies the pictures as soon as they are taken and does not "rsync" the iPhone picture library. We take lot of pictures and then delete most of them. Nextcloud want to upload all of them, even when we delete them afterwards. In that case, uploads hang and generate error messages. If we delete a picture on the iPhone after it has been uploaded to NextCloud, it is not deleted on the server.

I know iOS is such a hopelessly closed system with barely opportunity for automation but I still hope we can find a somewhat reasonable flow. Any suggestions?

  • Does it have to sync automatically, or would regular triggering also be acceptable?
    – nohillside
    Commented Aug 11, 2020 at 12:33
  • Regular triggering would be acceptable (despite not perfect).
    – divB
    Commented Aug 11, 2020 at 15:29

3 Answers 3


Have you considered Dropbox? Dropbox is NOT a server and it's not exactly what you want but Dropbox could be installed on a Mac or spare iPad and share permission given to you both. Both of you would need to install Dropbox on your respective machines. Dropbox may be too expensive for photos as they take up more space than most other files.

If you don't have a Mac or spare iPad you could both just install Dropbox and one could give share permission to the other.

On a Mac, using the terminal, one can cd to Dropbox and use shell scripts to manage the files there. The same thing can probably be done on an iPhone.

  • I considered it but the emphasis is really on private cloud. I'd probably prefer iCloud over Dropbox if I would consider a cloud.
    – divB
    Commented Aug 12, 2020 at 18:38
  • yes, I thought it was too but wanted to offer that up as an option. Sorry, I couldn't help you.
    – Natsfan
    Commented Aug 12, 2020 at 18:43

Take a look at Synology to see if it suits your needs. https://www.synology.com/en-us/dsm/photo_vs_moments

  • Interesting. Would the OP need to co-locate this or have it accessible via VPN into a protected network or does the vendor proxy files in via their web servers and an account to your personal NAS hardware?
    – bmike
    Commented Oct 10, 2020 at 23:45

iOS isn’t closed at all for file app sharing on SMB and other clouds. You can set up your own VPN as well if you wish to emulate the cryptographically secured upload that iCloud implements for general file sync as well as photos app synchronization. As you note, iCloud is explicitly closed to any apps and storage services except Apple’s for privacy reasons AFIAK.

There are more apps on the App Store than you can shake a stick at that handle photo syncing. I don’t see any that I trust more than Apple, but I’ll assume you have a very good reason you didn’t mention to not want your photos with Apple.

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