The first time I used this method was back in 2015 when I originally wrote this article, after getting an iPhone 6 128 GB with iCloud's basic data plan. It was taking days to upload photos and it was annoying. I decided to test a theory, not letting my iPhone sleep. In roughly 3 hours, my phone uploaded 4,000 photos; a massively increase over the previous three days landing somewhere between 5000-6000 photos.
Picture: Uploading photos back in 2016 on an iPhone 6
The second time I used this method was in 2020, when I switched to a 2 TB plan, moved my RAW photos into iCloud, and merged a separate library. I left my Mac syncing while my iPhone 12 did the same.
I recently upgraded iCloud to the 50 GB / $0.99 a month plan, almost exclusively to test out the Photo stream feature. I take a lot of photos. Currently, my photo library spans thirteen years, and is heavy even for a 128 GB iPhone 6. For years, I’ve photos a few times a month to Lightroom, usually in tandem with my camera, but I rarely remove photos from my phone.
However, with 10k photos the sync was slow. After the three days, only about half the photos were uploaded, despite being connected to wifi roughly 18 hours a day, and on a charger for roughly 16 hours a day during the span.
I started toying with methods to speed up uploads. Here's the process I figured out:
The Zero-Sleep Method
Plug in your iPhone and connect to Wifi
Go to display and brightness
Select Auto lock and set it "Never"
Return to settings and tap your profile
Make sure iCloud Photos is enabled and leave it on this screen....
.... and wait, this will take along time, depending on library size and your internet speed. This will not "speed up" uploading, rather keep it continously uploading.
A few users reported leaving it on the Photos screen worked as they could see the progress bar there. Also, if you're looking to keep things moving and have unlimited data or a huge data plan, you can enable unlimited updates.
Go to settings and scroll down and tap Photos
Tap Cellular Data
Warning, this will use a lot of cellular data! Toggle on Cellur Data and unlimited updates