5 Reasons Not to Store iPhoto Libraries on Dropbox

It’s been quite an annoying experience, these last few weeks with Dropbox. The ubiquitous desktop app literally brought my shiny new MacBook Pro to its knees. Like some evil slave driver, it forced the device to run its noisy fan endlessly. It sucked the battery dry in a mere hour or two. Yes, Dropbox, that angelic little menu bar item that sits there so innocently, seemingly so idle, was actually a succubus, draining my Mac of all its vitality.

Before I knew that Dropbox was to blame, though, I was quite put out with Apple. Here I had just bought this glorious new top-of-the-line MacBook Pro, this powerhouse, this Goliath, with the promised longevity of Ron Jeremy and the might of Arnie himself. Instead, what I seemed to have bought into was a washed-up old windbag that tired at the sight of my fingers approaching its keyboard, its underside searing hot with the exhaustion of its CPU.

But all was not as it seemed…

One day I noticed that, listed under the battery menu bar icon, the Dropbox app – and the Dropbox app alone – was using “significant energy” all the time. And I mean all the time. Even when Dropbox identified itself as being “Up to date” and idle, it was in that menu using “significant energy.” This went on for weeks.

So I had a look in the Activity Monitor app. Sure enough, under the “Energy” tab, in the “Avg Energy Impact” column, there was Dropbox at the top of the list with a rating of “120.” And, to be clear, that’s when Dropbox reported that it was idle and “up to date.”

For comparison’s sake, when I watched a video on YouTube in Safari, that app rated was a mere 1.2. Meanwhile, there’s Dropbox, doing nothing: 120. That’s like some hillbilly lazing about on your shady porch, guzzling your moonshine, while you’re out in the field doing real work under the hot sun sipping water.

The story was the same for CPU usage. At any given time, even when sitting idle and “up to date,” Dropbox was using over 100% of a CPU core. No other app even came close to that; no wonder the damn battery on this brand new MacBook Pro was always drained.

I dropped Dropbox a line, of course. After some shenanigans in which numerous lame excuses were offered by their front line support staff cutting and pasting from stock responses, my issue got escalated to somebody who actually seemed to know something.

“Keaton” explained that it was my iPhoto libraries. The new MacBook has a much smaller hard drive than my trusty old iMac. So just before I bought it, I had uploaded all 100 GB of my several iPhoto libraries (broken down by year) up to Dropbox for safekeeping, ready to sync back down in a pinch.

That’s apparently a no-no. Some technical mumbo-jumbo about “symbolic links” in iPhoto libraries means that you can’t store them on Dropbox. Dropbox suggests some workarounds, but I hate workarounds, especially ones that take a lot of time and must constantly be repeated manually, so I decided to opt out.

Instead, I just deleted my iPhoto libraries from Dropbox. All 100 GB of them. It was a long, arduous process. (Honestly, it took a whole day of fighting the Dropbox web site. But that’s another story.)

Once the task was completed and the iPhoto libraries were vanquished from Dropbox, I suddenly had the MacBook Pro I thought I’d bought in the first place: the battery never dies, the fan never runs, and its underside is always cool to the touch.

It truly is a glorious machine. A powerhouse. A god among PCs.

So I’m happy, but it makes me wonder: how many other people out there have stored their iPhoto libraries in the cloud and unknowingly sacrificed their once-mighty digital vessels to Dropbox as derelict slave ships?