OMG! 150,000+ photos.

How to gain control of your growing digital library?


Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Do you feel like you’re drowning in photos sometimes? Managing a large photo library is something that more and more of us have to deal with. As we get into the decades-plus of cheap and plentiful digital cameras and smartphones, chances are that your digital photo library is getting bigger and more unwieldy by the day!

With photos from cameras, hard drives, mobile phones, Facebook and Instagram, scanned physical images, and other digital files it’s no wonder a huge media library feels overwhelming.

  • What’s the best way to organize your photos?
  • How do you keep them safe and protected, not just for yourself to enjoy, but for future generations?
  • How to organize photos you take while on the road?
  • ​And how on Earth do you find specific images you need in that vast ocean?

Don’t worry! We’re going to answer all these questions and more right now.
Let’s dive in and learn how to correctly manage a large photo library.

Collect a lifetime of images in one beautiful library with Mylio Photos.

The next step to managing your entire photo library is to combine everything together so you know what you’ve got. You can do this with Mylio Photos. This software lets you collect all your photos, videos and documents into one organized, fully searchable, private library. Even a chaotic, photos-everywhere-and-anywhere library can be organized automatically with Mylio Photos.

There’s a free version of Mylio Photos and the premium subscription plan (Mylio Photos+), which adds automatic backup and syncing, accessing full-quality images from any device, protection against losing photos, duplicate removal features, and more.

The great thing about Mylio Photos is that you can combine all your photos in one place. You can connect hard drives, cameras, scanners, USBs, mobile phones, tablets, camera rolls, NAS drives (network-attached storage drives), Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, and Google Photos.

And it works great not just for your photos, but for other digital files like videos, kids drawings, contracts, e-books and even your old memories in the forms of report cards, birth certificates, travel itineraries, and more.  

Quick overview of how your photos are organized in Mylio Photos.

You'll see all your photos, videos and other files in one place once you connect your drives (and everything else) to Mylio Photos. This is essential to everything we will work through next to get your photo library under control.

Mylio Photos organizes your photos into six different views automatically. All Photos show, well, all your photos. The LifeCalendar is awesome and contains your pictures in that dated structure I mentioned above, without any effort on your part.

The Map lets you view your photos on an interactive map. In contrast, People enables you to tag faces in your photos (and automates recognizing people across your whole collection, privately, without any data going online). Albums let you collect photos together into groups without moving pictures on a disk. And finally, Folders shows your collection in the structure you have organized it into, on disk.

Because Mylio Photos helps you find and bring all your files into one catalog, it’s mighty for managing a large library of hundreds of thousands, and even millions of photos & videos. For really huge photo collections, Mylio Photos+ will make a lot of the next steps I’m going to cover here a lot easier.

It gives you a clear overview of every photo you’re working with, and it lets you back up everything automatically and safely, streamline your collection to eliminate photo clutter, control what pictures you have with you on different devices, and more. Let’s see how.

Back up your photos using a 3-2-1 method.

When managing a large photo library, backing up your photos should be your number one priority. It gives me literal nightmares to think about losing a client’s wedding photos before I can back them up, let alone my own collection of photos of my kids, my family, and my friends over the last 20+ years that I’ve been photographing them. I also have a growing collection of organized historical family photos. These are particularly important to preserve not just for me but for my children and future generations.

So, let’s talk photo backup. Using a 3-2-1 method of backing up is the best way to be sure that your photos are safe. The 3-2-1 method goes like this: three copies of every file, with two copies stored on-site and one copy stored off-site. Three, two, one.

How to set up a 3-2-1 backup plan for your photos?

In the simplest iteration, you would have one drive where all your photos live in your home. You’d have an identical copy of that drive also in your home. And then the third copy, another exact drive with those photos, stored at someone else’s home or your workplace. Three copies, two on-site and one off-site.

However, that will never happen with a massive photo library (and how we take and use photos today). We take pictures all day, every day; we upload, share, and edit them on the go; we have multiple devices all making new photos all the time.

This is where a tool like Mylio Photos+ becomes an essential time- and sanity-saver because it can do this 3-2-1 backup automatically for you. When you add a Vault (or Vaults) to your Mylio Library, as soon as new photos land, Mylio Photos+ backs them up to the Vaults.

So what is a Vault in Mylio Photos+?

A Vault in Mylio Photos+ is just a hard drive that can fit your entire collection of photos. If that’s 150,000 photos, you’ll need a 4TB to 8TB drive to fit your collection (depending on resolution and image quality). Connect the drive to your computer, add it to Mylio Photos as a Vault, and wait until everything syncs (be patient: It’ll take a while for 150,000 photos to sync).

Congratulations! Your photos are now backed up.

What about the Cloud backup?

Cloud backup is the modern way to get those photos off-site for the third copy in your 3-2-1 backup strategy. With a massive photo library, you must be smart about what cloud service you purchase – and how you use it. Cloud drives are expensive, especially over the 2TB mark.

To choose the best cloud storage, there are three things you need to consider.

  • First of all: How much space do you need?
  • ​Secondly: How do you get your photos into the cloud? Backing up often is essential, and to ensure it gets done, it must be easy.
  • And finally: Which images are necessary to back up to the cloud, and which are less important? Choosing which photos you back up to the cloud is a key strategy to ensure you spend your cloud storage dollars wisely.

Mylio Photos+ lets you add a cloud service to your library as a Vault, dramatically simplifying the cloud backup process. In the same way, a hard drive Vault works, a cloud Vault will automatically back up your precious photos as soon as they land in your Mylio Library. You can add Google Drive, OneDrive, or any S3 Compatible Service to your Mylio Photos+ devices to act as a Vault.

Controlling which photos are copied to your off-site backup.

Once you have chosen a cloud Vault and added it to Mylio Photos+, you can control the Sync Policy of the cloud to fine-tune which photos are using your precious (expensive) cloud drive space.

Highest Rated backs up only your five-star-rated photos to the cloud drive, which is perfect for being discriminating about which photos you really need backed up. There’s also SpaceSaver (which compresses photos 10x smaller, while still being viewable and editable on all standard sized screens) and the useful Travel Backup which takes just the last few months of photos into the cloud. (This is great for on the road before you get home and turn your Vaults on to back everything up for keeps.)

Streamline your media collection by removing duplicates and clutter.

Ok, let’s review where we’re at. As a basic organizational principle, we have committed to organizing our photos with reverse timestamps. We have all the photos from every device and every folder organized in one library. Our entire collection is backed up to a Vault (as our on-site backup copy) and to the cloud (as the off-site backup copy). What’s next? Removing the photos that you don’t need from your collection.

Over the years, we have built up a huge amount of photo clutter. Duplicate photos which we’ve copied to more than one location. Similar images from taking burst shots or being trigger-happy when trying to capture fast-moving kids. And for me, as a professional photographer, loads and loads of rejected photos from client photoshoots are unneeded (but still taking up space on my drives!).

Mylio Photos has tools to help us here. Streamlining your photos and removing the clutter is a huge step forward to managing a large photo library because you save space (both on your disk and in your cloud backups) and time because the photos in your library are the ones you want to see! No more scrolling through all the crappy ones to get to the gold.

Use Photo DeDupe in Mylio Photos+ to remove duplicate photos.

Photo DeDupe in Mylio Photos+ is a powerful tool that finds exact duplicates in your photo library and steps you through removing them. Please find it in Organise > Find Duplicate Photos.

You can choose what to do with duplicates: Delete them entirely, or move them somewhere else for later review. Either way, getting them out of your Mylio Library is a good step to keeping your collection manageable and just the needed photos. You can read about DeDupe in depth here.

Use Photo DeClutter to remove similar photos from burst shots.

Photo DeClutter, on the other hand, finds and batches similar photos. Instead of the completely identical images (regardless of what they are called or where they are stored) found by DeDupe, DeClutter finds pictures that are similar visually within a time range that you specify, for example, within 2 seconds of each other. Like DeDupe, you choose which copy to keep and then move or delete the others.

Use QuickFilters to remove Rejected photos from your collection!

What about photos that we have already decided we don’t need? Rejected flags are used in several editing programs (such as Lightroom Classic), and Mylio Photos reads that metadata from the files when photos are brought in.

I use Rejected flags to mark photos from client work that I don’t need, and approximately a year after delivery, I delete those photos. (I leave it a while after the photo shoot in case there are requests for specific images that were missed in my original cull.)

Using Mylio Photos QuickFilters (hit the top or bottom button of the left sidebar to pop out the QuickFilters), I can build a filter for the date range and the Rejected flag to clean out my catalog. Depending on your workflow, removing space-sucking RAW originals that have long since been delivered to clients as JPG is useful. Right-click any photos you don’t want, click Delete Rejected Photo, and enjoy your freed-up space.

Take only the photos that you need with you.

The next step in managing a large photo library is being smart about what photos you take with you on the go. If you need to work on pictures while travelling, need images on your laptop to show family while visiting or have a collection of photos for work projects that need to live on your tablet, then controlling what device has which photos is important.

Manually plugging in your photo drive and copying photos from one device to another is one way to do this. However, you’ll end up again with duplicate images on multiple devices. An easier way to control this is using the Sync Policies in Mylio Photos+ to set what needs to be where.

What is a Sync Policy in Mylio Photos+?

A Sync Policy tells Mylio Photos+, “These are the photo that I want on this device, and this is the quality I want them in.” It’s a rule that Mylio Photos+ applies to decide how photos are synced between devices.
You can control the Sync Policies for different levels in Mylio Photos+. Each device has a Sync Policy; you can adjust it for Folders and individual photos too.

Find the Sync Policy for each device here:
Dashboard > Devices > [Device name} > Device Sync Policies

As I mentioned above when we set up your cloud backup service. This is how you control each device’s quality settings. SpaceSaver (which compresses to 10x smaller without losing viewing quality on all standard screens) is a good idea for most portable devices.

Choosing specific Folders or photos to take on the go with you.

In the Sync tab of the right-hand sidebar you’ll find the option to override the Sync Policy for specific Folders, and prompt Mylio Photos+ to download the Optimized or Original images to your device as needed. This lets you take just the photos you need with you when travelling or working.

It’s worth remembering that with Mylio Photos+ you can access any image on demand in full quality, from any connected device, too. When you open an individual image, you can edit it using the built in Edit tools in Mylio Photos. For Mylio Photos+ users this will automatically download the Original from where it’s stored to your local device

Find any photo in your large photo library quickly.

Finding the photos you need quickly in a large photo library can be a challenge. If you have everything organized in Mylio Photos, this is much faster and easier. You can use QuickFilter for camera data, ratings, dates, and people, and Mylio Photos SmartTags to find colors, objects, and more in your photos. These are powerful, automatically generated tags that detect (using artificial intelligence) the content of images without needing manual tagging.

Location data is quickly searchable in Mylio Photos (as well as updatable for older cameras that don’t store GPS data). People tags and fuzzy dates are other powerful features of Mylio Photos metadata editing tools that make managing a large photo library easier.

Keep your photo catalog up to date when you edit photos.

How do you manage a large photo library when you have originals and edited photos to negotiate? I use Mylio Photos to display edited images in my library so that I can always see the best, finished photos front and center rather than unedited ones. It also helps me visually see which folders are left to work on.

Mylio Photos works with any editing program (including Lightroom Classic and Radiant Photo), and the one tip you need to know to get Mylio Photos to display your edited photos on top of unedited ones is this: Name your edited pictures with _display appended to the end, and they will be automatically stacked. Mylio Photos will group them with the unedited RAW file and display the, well, display copy.

You can manage your edited photos and different batches with Mylio Photo’s built-in Categories system.

You’ll find this in the right-hand sidebar: Info > Categories. Classify your Folders into Categories and then QuickFilter for these when viewing photos. For example, turn off Work photos when you want to see Family photos.

Share your photos from one central location to track shares.

Finally, part of managing a large photo library is enjoying your images! That means sharing them with friends and family. Because what else are photos for, if not for sharing memories? The Mylio Photos mobile app has native sharing built in. If you add a step to your workflow to rate photos before you share, or add a Keyword “Shared” then you can QuickFilter fast for “Shared” and then Invert Results to find photos you haven’t yet shared.

It's easy to manage a large photo library with the right tools.

Managing a large photo library by keeping it organized, backed up, uncluttered and beautiful is easy when you have the right tools for the job. Mylio Photos+ does all the things that you need to keep a massive photo library organized and fun to use, even if you have hundreds of thousands of photos. Never lose a photo again!

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