Broken Indexing on Synology Photos in DSM 7

Synology Aug 26, 2021

After recently upgrading to DSM 7 following a Mode-2 reset, I decided to give their new Synology Photos app a try. If you're unaware, this single app now replaces both PhotoStation and Moments, has built in recognition for objects and faces, and has both an Android and iOS app. In essence, it's just like the old Moments app, though supposedly faster and better put together on the backend.  

I decided to jump right in and added photos with a combination of dumping a previous folder into the /homes/[user]/Photos/ app and uploading them from my Android phone using Photosync (I don't get any referrals btw, I just think that's a great app). In total about 13,000 photos. Indexing immediately began.

I had enabled facial recognition, and soon began to see my face, my wife's face, and maybe 3 or 4 other people's faces being  populated in the People folder. At this point I let it run for the night expecting to wake up to a lot of people's faces which would need sorting through.

There were 8.

Obviously something had gone wrong, however I didn't know what, and neither did Synology. After doing some digging I found the following via SSH:

[email protected]:/var/packages/SynologyPhotos/target/usr/bin$
exiv2                               synofoto-bin-delete-sharing-entry
synofoto-bin-restore-sharing-entry  synofoto-bin-check-file-extension
synofoto-bin-face-verification-tool synofoto-bin-sdk-plugin
synofoto-bin-check-index-status     synofoto-bin-index-tool
synofoto-bin-sdk-tool               synofoto-bin-check-user-group
synofoto-bin-migrate-tool           synofoto-bin-team-library-tool
synofoto-bin-clear-index-task       synofoto-bin-person-migrate-tool
synofoto-bin-userdata-collector     synofoto-bin-daemon-tool
synofoto-bin-refetch-geocoding      synophoto-bin-metadata-wrapper
synofoto-bin-database-tool          synofoto-bin-reset-index-task

Now I was getting somewhere.

I ran the following to clear and then reset the indexing task:

sudo ./synofoto-bin-clear-index-task -t all && sudo ./synofoto-bin-reset-index-task
sudo is required, so I also needed to enter my password

I then tried running the face verification tool but I'm actually not sure what that did. Looking through the rest of the options, the synofoto-bin-index-tool looked the next best option, so I ran it, which returned the following:

[email protected]: sudo ./synofoto-bin-index-tool
synofoto-bin-index-tool -i [path] -t [type]
path must start by /var/services/homes/ or other share volume path
type is one of
  [repair_undone, basic_reindex, reindex, basic, ]
  - basic_reindex will only scan file existance, redo undone index stages

- Index missing directory or files
        synofoto-bin-index-tool -t basic -i /var/services/homes/admin/Photos/
        synofoto-bin-index-tool -t basic -i /volume1/photo

- Re-Index files but keep indexed data (only clear unexisted files)
        synofoto-bin-index-tool -t basic_reindex -i /var/services/homes/admin/Photos/

- Re-Index files with clear all data like geocoding and face
        synofoto-bin-index-tool -t reindex -i /var/services/homes/admin/Photos/

- Repair undone index stage
        synofoto-bin-index-tool -t repair_undone -i /var/services/homes/admin/Photos/
explanation on how to use the tool

I started off with a basic reindex by running

sudo ./synofoto-bin-index-tool -t basic_reindex -i /var/services/homes/[user]/Photos/

I went into Photos via the webapp and saw that it was now indexing my photos, counting down from the nearly 13,000 I had there. Unfortunately no new faces were being added to the People page, and after taking maybe 10 minutes to reindex around 500 photos, the system jumped to under 2,000 and ran through the rest in a few minutes.

My next choice was to try just basic:

sudo ./synofoto-bin-index-tool -t basic -i /var/services/homes/[user]/Photos/

When I refreshed the People page, instead of it now saying X photos to be discovered... it now showed Updating.... So I left it.

After an hour of updating, it was still updating, and no new faces were displayed in photos. 3 days later, it was still updating. 4 days later and it's still updating.

I'm going to leave this for a bit, and I'll edit and update when I notice it's completed updating...

Ok more than a few. A lot more. 9 days later and it's still showing Updating... so I gave up and stopped it.

In SynologyPhotos Settings I turned off 'Enable the People Album in Personal Space', then ran another clear-index-task and reset-index-task, followed by index-tool -t basic -i. SSH paused for a minute or so, then seemed to complete. Back in SynologyPhotos, I re-enabled People and nothing had changed. I turned it off again and tried the 'Re-index' button on the same settings page. And I left it again.

top tip: indexing can be CPU-intensive, and impact system performance when you really don't want it to. DSM has settings which allow you to choose scheduled times for indexing, outside of which it won't run the indexing processes. These can be found in Control Panel and typing index into the search bar and selecting the drop down


With very limited knowledge, PTS fell down the selfhosted rabbit hole after buying his first NAS in October 2020. You can find him on the Synology discord server (click the icon below)

Have some feedback or something to add? Comments are welcome!

Please note comments should be respectful, and may be moderated