During the Photos beta, I gave both Photos.app and iCloud Photo Library a run for their money. I imported my photos — which had been living in Dropbox — and uploaded them.
It was a mess, so I decided that Dropbox + Finder was the way forward for me. I removed my files from iCloud after reading this support document:
Photos and videos will be stored in your account for 30 days. To download your photos and videos on your iOS device, go to Settings > iCloud > Photos and select Download and Keep Originals. On your Mac, open Photos, choose Photos > Preferences, then select Download Originals to this Mac. You can also select the photos and videos that you want to download from iCloud.com.
After 30 days, I checked, and iCloud seemed to have removed my photos. I went back to Dropbox a little annoyed, but happy that I had given Apple's solution a shot.
Over the week of Thanksgiving, I decided to give it another try. I hadn't really spent any time with Photos.app since OS X El Capitan, and I had heard a lot of good things from people I know about it.
I imported my photos and uploaded my 70GB photo library to iCloud. Everything went very smoothly, so I turned on iCloud Photo Library on my iPad.
Aaaaaand it all exploded.
After two days, my iPad still just showed a spinner when I tapped the Photos app.
Today, I opened Photos.app on my Mac to look at some photos I'd taken with my iPhone over the holiday and noticed something that made my heart stop.
Most of my albums had duplicate entries that were empty. I assume these were brought in from data that I told iCloud to delete, but it hadn't.
A bunch of empty duplicate albums would be annoying to clean up, but upon digging, I discovered that not all my albums had been duplicated. Some — including one with 1800 family photos from a vacation — had been overwritten with an empty album of the same name.
Turning iCloud Photo Library back on from my iPad introduced some sort of leftover data not deleted from my iCloud account, overwriting (and removing) newer data on my Mac.
Because I am a nerd, I have backups. I have all of my photos safe and sound, but I've got iCloud Photo Library off forever now. I can't trust it after this failure. I know that there's a lot of talk that CloudKit is better than the shit Apple first shipped with iCloud, but this is unacceptable.
I understand Apple not wanting to expose a lot about what's stored in iCloud, but I trusted that when I told the system to remove all traces of my previous iCloud Photo Library — per their directions — that it would work.
Clearly, it didn't. I don't know if the leftover data was left on iCloud itself or maybe my iPad, but it shouldn't matter. I told Apple to remove my data and it failed in doing so.
I will probably keep my photos in Photos.app, but I won't be uploading them to Apple's service again. Photo management needs to be bulletproof, and iCloud has proved, yet again, to be far from it.