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A few months back, I moved my ~500GB Photos (the default macOS app) library over to my Synology NAS (DS920+ running 7.1 or whatever is latest as of late 2022). It appeared that all was fine, but I noticed after an upgrade to macOS Monterey that it wasn't scanning the photo database for people (facial recognition). I left it for a week since I've read that helps, but still nothing. Checked Console.app output and found that it was repeatedly reporting errors about file permissions and other things that sounded very filesystem related; the NAS folder is a SMB share on the Synology, and I'm not running it in a sparsebundle or anything like that which would make it HFS+ or APFS.

I suspect that something is slightly off because the .photolibrary isn't running on HFS+ or APFS, but Photos.app isn't reporting any issue to me other than hidden in the console log output. So that leads to the question...

Is it possible to host your macOS Photos.app library on a Synology SMB share? How have others done it, and have they run into issues?

I'm concerned that:

  1. If I keep it on the natural SMB share, there is something not quite right and might fail at some point; example is that the face scanning job doesn't appear to be running a week+ after upgrading to Monterey.
  2. If I create a sparsebundle and host that on the SMB share, it is possible the sparsebundle could corrupt and I would lose my library (i.e. I've had Time Machine sparsebundles on the NAS get corrupted before for unknown reasons).

Any thoughts?

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  • A side-note which may not go mentioned by answers specifically about the networking aspects (which seem to be the main focus of your question): You run the risk of outdated Photos installations interacting with the library and corrupting it. It's possible to restore the photos, but inconvenient (and might have some kind of data loss). You'd have to ensure all devices sharing the Photos library are always up-to-date, and consider that ex. if an older Mac loses support from Apple it will not be able to share the library anymore (without holding back other devices from updates).
    – Nebula
    Nov 22, 2022 at 17:58
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    @Nebula - totally understood. However, I'm intending for only one machine to really access the library so in that way I'm avoiding the issue. It is more that I am hoping to host the library on my NAS instead of some USB drive since the 1/NAS is faster than my USB drives, and 2/NAS already has off-site backups happening, while the USB would end up being copied to the NAS to the off-site and thus an extra ~500GB of storage to go USB.
    – bjb
    Nov 22, 2022 at 20:18
  • Did you get anywhere with this? I too would like to do this.
    – hydev
    Aug 3, 2023 at 15:12
  • @hydev - as of 2023-08-14, I have not found a solution that involves the share primarily living on the NAS. What I've resorted to is having a 2TB external USB SSD which hosts the Photos library on fast, local storage. As far as backups, I have that SSD as part of the Time Machine backups to the NAS. So inefficient as far as storage since I was hoping to AWS Glacier the NAS directory directly for backups, but this at least frees up my Mac's SSD.
    – bjb
    Aug 14, 2023 at 16:52
  • @bjb that's what I have done now too. Purchased a USB-C external drive and use that for my library. Works well. However, I would suggest using OSX Photos (github.com/RhetTbull/osxphotos) in a shell script which extract/copy the photos to your NAS from Apple Photos. You can then make it part of your Amazon Glacier. That's what I do.
    – hydev
    Aug 24, 2023 at 21:10

3 Answers 3

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I also tried putting the macOS Photos folder on the nas via a soft link, but that failed. Now my solution is to install a win10 VM on the nas and use the windows version of icloud for this purpose.

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  • I'm curious how that worked out for you? My experience (as referenced above) is that you can put it straight on a NAS, but something isn't working. If you do a sparsebundle, you risk corruption. I've resorted to using an external USB SSD and just adding it to the Time Machine backup; the idea was just to get it off of my limited "Macintosh HD" base drive.
    – bjb
    Jul 18, 2023 at 17:18
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I would do everything possible to not have Photos library on NAS. Apple Music (previously known as iTunes) stumped renowned trainers and experts trying to store a much simpler data store on NAS and Photos is much worse to make portable in my experience.

Even well behaved, fast NAS storage is not suited as well as Apple’s fast internal storage for this purpose. It’s part performance and mostly how Apple manages updates and migration scripts every time they patch the app or OS.

I would store original photos on the NAS before they get imported to the library. I would store all sorts of other file system files there. I would enable cloud photos and save space before I would choose NAS. I would store iTunes files on NAS and leave the library itself on local storage. I would use Power Photos advanced export to get photos out of a library and on to the NAS as flat exports. I would use Photos to manage the photos I need synced and use another tool like Photo Mechanic to manage my large library efficiently on the Synology if I needed it on NAS.

Synology is great and I would use it for storing flat file backups and not Time Machine backups or Photos library storage.

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I would not recommend doing this, but I have read that macOS 14.1 fixed a bug that prevented (or made unreliable) accessing a Photo Library over a network.

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    Supporting info would go a long way herer
    – Allan
    Mar 27 at 20:22

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