Apple has announced that it's shutting down its older My Photo Stream service on July 26, and encouraging everyone to move over to iCloud Photos. If you still use My Photo Stream, your files will remain available in the cloud for 30 days from July 26.
My Photo Stream was the forerunner to iCloud Photos. It was free to use but only covered a maximum of 1,000 pictures and video clips, keeping these files in sync across every Apple device you owned and on the web.
Apple hasn't given a reason for shutting down the service, but iCloud Photos is clearly the newer and more comprehensive option for photo and video backups – while also making some money for Apple in terms of storage fees at the same time.
“Moving forward, iCloud Photos is the best way to keep the photos and videos you take up to date across all your devices and safely stored in iCloud,” Apple said in an email sent out to anyone who is still making use of My Photo Stream.
While photos and videos won't be deleted from your actual devices, they will be removed from the cloud 30 days from July 26 (so August 25), and syncing will be switched off. No new uploads will be permitted from July 26.
The service launched alongside iCloud in 2011 and is something of a throwback to the time when tech companies were still figuring out how to get photo and video uploads to work in a speedy and seamless way.
Analysis: what you need to do
What Apple is doing here is phasing out the cloud storage and syncing service for your last 1,000 photos and videos. The original files – which in most cases will be on an iPhone, if they were captured with the iPhone camera – won't go anywhere.
Unless you want to risk losing all your precious memories if something happens to your phone, you really need to get your pictures and videos uploaded to the cloud for safekeeping. Apple is pushing its own iCloud Photos service, which works well: once you go past 5GB of files though, you'll need to start paying for storage.
Other similar services that offer paid-for cloud storage include Google Photos and Dropbox. If you don't want to pay or store anything in the cloud, you need to make sure your photos and videos are regularly backed up to a computer or storage drive or two, preferably in a different location to where your iPhone normally lives.
There's more information in the official Apple support document about how the My Photo Stream shutdown is going to work, what you need to do with your photos and videos, and how to get them into iCloud Photos if you want to.