Using Drobo 5N to store Photos for Mac library that syncs to iCloud?

I have my Photos for Mac library stored on the Drobo 5N. It opens fine (slow), but it works.

When I try to enable iCloud Photo Library, I get this error message:

iCloud Photo Library is only available on Mac OS Standard and Mac OS Extended formatted volumes.

To check the format of a volume, select the volume in the Finder and choose Get Info from the File menu. The type of volume appears in the Format field.

Since you can’t change the block-level file system on the 5N (versus when using iSCSI protocol), I assume this will forever be a limitation and we won’t be able to use libraries stored on the 5N as an iCloud Photo Library synced storage location? :confused:

My experience with iPhoto has shown that Apple used a database engine that apparently only deals with Apple HFS formatted disks / volumes that are directly connected to the host machine. Since NAS units like the 5N seem to present SMB / NTFS / Windows formatted volumes to the host Mac over the LAN, it does not work. I was hoping that with the release of the new Photos App, this would change, but from what you report, it does not seem to be the case. Unfortunate.

If anyone can test this out using iSCSI (if Photos for Mac will allow you to turn on “iCloud Photo Library”), that would be super! Then I may have to switch storage devices :confused:

This does indeed suck, but it’s not Drobo’s fault and should be reported to Apple as a bug/feature enhancement. I doubt they will ever change it though…

You can emulate an HFS+ Journaled volume on a NAS share by means of a sparse image or a sparse bundle. This mechanism is used by Time Machine to good effect. I don’t know if this will work for your photo library but it can’t hurt to try. Use the OS X Disk Utility to create a new disk image file on the Drobo share and mount it, then store your files there. Please report back your success or failure.

Did using sparse image or a sparse bundle worked?


I’m sorry I hadn’t seen this any sooner, but creating a Disk Image file (dmg) with Disk Utility and storing that on the Drobo works. I’ve been doing it for a couple of years, now.

I named mine “Photos and Music” and I copied my Photos Library and Music Library folders to it. You can set your Mac to automatically mount that disk image when you log in, but you need to know that that may take some time, so if you open Photos or Music before that process has completed, either will tell you that it can’t find the library. Once it’s mounted, everything is fine.

You also can add the mounted drive to your Dock, so you can mount it just by clicking when you want to do it manually.

Can you maybe stir me in the right direction on how to do this?

i would like to do this for my family photos as well can you help me on how that’s done.


Well, now, I’d recommend not doing it. Sometime after posting that, my Photos Library became corrupt. I tried repairing it and rebuilding it, but it kept failing. Eventually, I realized that the disk image file was corrupt. I was unable to repair that, so I tried deleting it and creating a new one, but that process kept failing.

After some back and forth with Drobo tech support, I created a new share on the Drobo and started again completely from scratch. That second iteration has failed, now, as well, following the same path: Photos Library fails, eventually can’t be repaired, then dmg fails, and can’t be repaired.

I’m going to look into a large external drive instead. Then, I will use Time Machine to back that up to the Drobo. It’s additional cost, but with a directly-attached drive, formatted with APFS, things should work much more smoothly.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

Thank you for your quick reply.
does what vbadtz was saying back in April 15 still work though. can i save my whole library on drobo, and access it?
but will not be able to back it up on the cloud? do i understand this correctly?

I was having trouble accessing it directly on the Drobo.

was the Drobo directly connected to your computer or on a network.
also if i have and old mac. can i attach the drobo 5n directly to it and use it to share and possible backup a family shared library, connected to a network? or maybe just a very large drive like you mentioned connected to my old mac.

thanks again for all you help and input. we are a family of 6 all with macs that would like to find a way to share a common photo library.

i found this while searching.

would this work? if so unfortunately it is not available on the 5N. would this be a software or hardware issue?

My Drobo is on the network. (It’s a 5N.) That makes it easier for the various machines to use it for Time Machine backup. I don’t now about connecting it directly to a single machine; I’ve not looked into it. Having it on the network means that it’s there and available regardless of the status of any of the other machines that may use it. If it’s connected to a specific machine and anything happens to take that machine down, the Drobo would become inaccessible.