Jim is having problems with Windows recognizing his external usb drive. It keeps losing it. But his image catalog says his images are there. Leo says that many photo gallery apps keep a thumbnail for fast referral. So it could have the thumbnail, but not see the original image, if the drive is disconnected or lost. Leo also says that your external drive could be getting flakey. Get a backup drive and make a copy of your photos. Save them online too. Three copies, on two formats, one off site. The good news is, that hard drives are cheap now. You can get a 1 TB drive for under $100.
Charles wants to know the best way to set up Time Machine on his Mac with macOS Mojave. Leo says that in the new OS, there is a new APFS file system, and there have been backup issues with Time Machine and others. He may need to use an external drive formatted with the old HFS file system. That will insure that if his internal drive dies, his backup is secure. Leo also recommends not using Time Machine as his primary backup system. He should make an image backup with SuperDuper.
Barbara would like to update to macOS High Sierra, but she thinks that she can't update it because she hasn't updated in a long time. Leo says you can. The way you can do it is to go to the last version your computer can handle directly. If that's macOS High Sierra, then just go to the app store download it and install. If you're getting notifications, then you're golden. It'll take awhile though.
Tim uses Time Machine for his backup, but the backup fails intermittently. His Synology NAS is citing improper credentials as the cause. Leo says that encryption certificates need to be renewed from time to time, and if he's encrypting his data on backup, that could be the issue.
There is a post on Synology forums about this: Time Machine, Making it Work. Learn from my Suffering. There are some steps that can help.
Paul had a Dell XPS computer, then he got an iMac running Boot Camp. He hasn't been backing up since December. He changed the file structure when he moved to the new computer, and now his backups are duplicates instead of a select backup folder. Leo says he can tell his operating system where his home folder is in the partition. Once he's done that, he can delete the duplicates.
John is frustrated that he can't delete the pictures on his phone without deleting them from iCloud. Leo says that if he selects "optimize phone storage" in settings, it will delete it on the phone without deleting it on iCloud. But he'll have to select "Keep Originals" on his Mac so it doesn't delete there.
Bonnie bought a new computer and plugged in her external hard drive. She can see the data on her old computer, but she can't read it on her new computer. Leo has a hunch that her WD Passport runs a proprietary utility that encrypts her data to protect it. She probably will need to install that same software on the new computer in order to see the data.
Manny wants to store his photos in the cloud, but he wants to have a better quality image stored locally. Leo says that iCloud always keeps the higher quality image in the cloud. In Google Photos, he can turn off "optimize photos" and it will keep the higher quality locally as well. But Leo says he really won't see the difference.
Chester had to return a phone, and he wants to know how he can get the old photos off it? He's told he has to get them off the cloud, because the phones were returned. Rich says that if his phone didn't have a miniSD card that the images were saved on, they're probably gone. If he turned on cloud backup, however, he may find them there. Samsung has a service called Samsung Cloud. He should log in and see if he can find them there. This is why he should have more than one backup solution.
Peter was locked out of his Gmail account and it was a chore to get it back. But now he wants to back up his Gmail account so if it happens again, he doesn't lose anything. Leo says that for the Mac, there's a program called Horcrux which continually backs up Gmail. It works in the background and creates a database of email. For Windows, there's Gmail Backup.