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.