EssentialParado

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Feb 17, 2005
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So right now I have a 256GB iPad Pro and an iMac with around 1TB of files that I leave always switched on and networked so I can access the files remotely from the iPad. The iMac also keeps all files backed up through cloud backup. But my iMac gets less and less use these days so I’m looking at streamlining my file storage workflow and eliminating it from the chain and going fully iPad-only.

I would love to hear what others are doing for file storage and if there’s any recommendations. I see a few options for file storage...

1) iCloud - Most simple but pricey would be to buy Apple’s most expensive iCloud tier and move everything to the Cloud.
2) Alternative cloud service - Now that iOS 11 supports other cloud storage with Files, I could go with another provider. Could anyone recommend a good service that gives a lot of storage but not too expensive?
3) Problem with 1) and 2) is there’s no redundancy if something happens to the server or my account (unless the cloud provider does retrievable backups), so another option is a NAS - some new systems will backup remotely in the background to the cloud. This means I’d have a local copy of all files, and cloud backup. But is this method adding an unnecessary step - is the future just all cloud?

Would love to hear what others are doing or any ideas.
 

sparksd

macrumors 603
Jun 7, 2015
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I use a NAS and my own backup solution at home. I use cloud storage only for sharing photos (OneDrive with Office 365 subscription) and some file transfers (Dropbox). I travel a lot to areas with poor or no Internet access so I don't rely on cloud availability. If I need a lot of portable storage I use a wireless FileHub with an attached HDD - or I take my laptop.
 

sparksd

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Jun 7, 2015
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Doesn't matter whether you use cloud or not.

Always have a redundancy for your most important data.

You'd think this doesn't need to be said but quite literally right after reading this my wife mentioned a friend who "lost all of her photos in an OS update" and was looking for advice on what to do going forward. And as the poor people in Santa Rosa would tell you today, strongly consider off-site redundancy of important data (not just digital, but copies of important papers - people lost their fire safes because the fires were so hot).
 

ericwn

macrumors G3
Apr 24, 2016
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The Yahoo email scandal is a good pointer on how secure your data is on the internet. I would either keep the Mac and backup to an external drive that you keep at a safe other location or get a NAS and have that thing backup to another drive.
 

Abazigal

Contributor
Jul 18, 2011
14,832
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Singapore
I have tried iCloud storage with the iOS 11 files app and I have noticed a few drawbacks (for me at least). An inability to create new folders offline and download my files to my iPad at one go (I have to select them manually one by one).

Documents is much better in this regard, as it lets me sync my dropbox files to my iPad, allowing me to access them outside without burning data. So I think what you can consider doing is storing your files in dropbox and connecting it to the documents app.
 

rwp

macrumors member
Oct 13, 2015
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150
LA, CA, US
My 2010 iMac 27” just died and since I have been able to do 95% of my computing tasks with my 12.9” iPad Pro, I decided for the first time since 1988 to not buy a new Mac. I use iCloud and the iPad’s built-in storage for the files, music, and photos that I actively work with. For the 2+TB of other files from the iMac, I bought a Western Digital My Passport Wireless Pro 4TB hard drive for about $200. I use it with File Browser on the iPad.

The setup has worked well for me so far. I love the wireless aspect of the HD — I throw it in my bag, and when needed just turn it on and find the file. iOS still does not have elegant ways to manage thousands of files; on those rare instances, I plug the HD into a friend’s mac. Obviously not ideal, but since it doesn’t happen often, workable.
 

johannnn

macrumors 68000
Nov 20, 2009
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https://www.reddit.com/r/ios/comments/73ects/how_do_data_backup_if_going_ios_only/ Recent similar question (without great answer).

I have less and less time to tinker around on my iMac and could definitely go iOS only pretty soon.
But data redundency has to be fixed before I do it. What if something happens to my iCloud account (social engineering or whatever)?
Sadly I think  wants to continue sell Macs so I don't see them pushing this for at least a few years.
 

EssentialParado

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Feb 17, 2005
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Thanks for the replies. I’m a little surprised how many of you aren’t using cloud storage and only an external HDD or NAS! — what do you do if your house burns down? I’ve been backing up all my files to the cloud since 2011 and, although it’s only saved me once, once is also all it takes.

https://www.reddit.com/r/ios/comments/73ects/how_do_data_backup_if_going_ios_only/ Recent similar question (without great answer).

I have less and less time to tinker around on my iMac and could definitely go iOS only pretty soon.
But data redundency has to be fixed before I do it. What if something happens to my iCloud account (social engineering or whatever)?
Sadly I think  wants to continue sell Macs so I don't see them pushing this for at least a few years.
Thanks for the reddit link. I actually really like the point one of the posters makes about iCloud, and I didn’t realise you could look at recent file deletions on iCloud.com (only for 30 days, but that’s the same for Dropbox).

But it’s made me realise a few points about cloud storage:
- Nearly all iOS apps have versioning built in... Pages, Numbers, Affinity Photo, most 3rd party apps. To such an extent that I can’t actually think of an app I might use that wouldn’t do that by default.
- All Cloud providers, especially Apple, Dropbox, and any of the big names, will surely be taking regular redundancy backups of data for all their users. It would be such a significant loss of trust and so damaging to any cloud service if they were ever to lose everyone’s data that it must be at the top of their priorities for protecting that data. This is why cloud services spread redundancy across multiple server sites throughout the world. Realising this, I can probably - not 100% but probably - feel pretty safe with all my data being on one cloud service without requiring a secondary backup.

Given the above, I feel pretty confident to go full cloud for my data, with my iPad almost becoming just a remote terminal for accessing my files from the cloud. Pretty scary thought in some ways. But in other ways, it feels like this is the inevitable future of computing for all of us anyway.

I just have to do a bit more research and decide if I’ll be using iCloud or another cloud.
 
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johannnn

macrumors 68000
Nov 20, 2009
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I've looked more into this today as I'm also curious in going iOS only.

- Price
iCloud 2TB has the same price as Google Drive and Dropbox 1TB. OneDrive is the cheapest though.

- Compatibility
If I went iOS-only, I would use Files.app a ton. Which means compatibility with Files.app is crucial. Apple will always be #1 at this. And we remember how ****** Google Drive was at launch (opening every single file extension in Google Drive by default).

- Backup
I'd love to take periodical backups just in case something happened with my cloud storage of choice.
- Google has a wonderful service called Google Takeout, which lets you download every single file (including Google Photos, Gmail, etc) to .zip archives, which then can be transfered to your external drive (even using a friends computer if you sold all your Macs). It can even send the link by email, or transfer to Dropbox or OneDrive.
- Dropbox can make zip files from folders less than 20GB or less than 10.000 files.
- iCloud.com doesn't even let you download a folder.

Google Takeout is really attractive, and would be wonderful if I used Chrome/Gmail/Google Photos/Google Drive.
However, currently I don't use a single Google product, and I'd like it to stay that way.

Edit: just learned that you easily can copy files/folder from iCloud to Dropbox from Files.app, which is awesome. Good for people that organize their photos manually in iCloud Drive, bad for people that use Photos.app (since Photos.app is not accessible in Files.app). Cool solution for periodical backups, although it requires fast upload speed (which I have :cool:) if you want to copy multiple gigabytes, as well as paying for a second storage service (iCloud and Dropbox in this example).
What's nice about this solution is that you never in your life need to touch a computer or an external drive ever again.
 
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Brammy

macrumors 68000
Sep 17, 2008
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So, this is an interesting question. Backups aren’t something I practice what I preach at all.

So, there are two ways too approach this: if you are truly going iPad only, or if you are going iPad only, but with some sort of supplemental computer. Let’s call it a Mac.

If you are going iPad with a Mac as a back end, I’d recommend going iCloud only. Don’t turn on the part of iCloud Drive that offloads infrequently used files to the cloud. Store everything on the Mac. Get something like Time Machine to back up the entire computer. Also run CrashPlan/Backblaze on the computer to have an off-site backup. On the iPad, just use the Files app.

If you are going truly iPad only, I’d think about Dropbox instead of iCloud. The hardest part with any sort of cloud storage is backing up, and dealing with version histories and accidental deletions. On iCloud, the iWord apps have some versioning, but I’m not aware of any way to recover accidentally deleted files. EDIT: I was wrong. iCloud.com lets you recover deleted files.

Dropbox handles versioning and gives you some nature of file recovery. It’s not as perfect as having your own local backups, but it is better than nothing. If an app has been updated to use the Files app, and you have enabled Dropbox in Files, you will be able to read and write the Dropbox location. For giggles, I just had Pages create a file on Dropbox on iOS and it worked well. Dropbox also has better sharing options for folders and the like.

Edit: Apps like Office currently play a bit better with Dropbox as opposed to iCloud.
 
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EssentialParado

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Feb 17, 2005
1,161
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So, this is an interesting question. Backups aren’t something I practice what I preach at all.

So, there are two ways too approach this: if you are truly going iPad only, or if you are going iPad only, but with some sort of supplemental computer. Let’s call it a Mac.

If you are going iPad with a Mac as a back end, I’d recommend going iCloud only. Don’t turn on the part of iCloud Drive that offloads infrequently used files to the cloud. Store everything on the Mac. Get something like Time Machine to back up the entire computer. Also run CrashPlan/Backblaze on the computer to have an off-site backup. On the iPad, just use the Files app.

If you are going truly iPad only, I’d think about Dropbox instead of iCloud. The hardest part with any sort of cloud storage is backing up, and dealing with version histories and accidental deletions. On iCloud, the iWord apps have some versioning, but I’m not aware of any way to recover accidentally deleted files. Dropbox handles versioning and gives you some nature of file recovery. It’s not as perfect as having your own local backups, but it is better than nothing. If an app has been updated to use the Files app, and you have enabled Dropbox in Files, you will be able to read and write the Dropbox location. For giggles, I just had Pages create a file on Dropbox on iOS and it worked well. Dropbox also has better sharing options for folders and the like.
If you go to icloud.com and go on iCloud Drive, it lets you restore any previously deleted history. 30 days, same as Dropbox.

I’m really torn between the two services. Like Johann I want to avoid Google like the plague, so it’s between Dropbox and iCloud...

iCloud gives 2TB and Dropbox 1TB and they’re basically the same price, although Dropbox allows sharing of files very easy (although I just selected a document in Files app and it gives a sharing option called “Add People” and lets me send a link - I’m not sure how that is compared with Dropbox?)

I’m starting to lean more and more toward iCloud. Haven’t come across impenetrable problems as of yet.
 

Brammy

macrumors 68000
Sep 17, 2008
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If you go to icloud.com and go on iCloud Drive, it lets you restore any previously deleted history. 30 days, same as Dropbox.

The gotcha, I think you need a desktop browser to get there, unless you use something like iCab on iOS.

That said, I do stand corrected. I did not realize you could recover and will update the post.
 

EssentialParado

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Feb 17, 2005
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The gotcha, I think you need a desktop browser to get there, unless you use something like iCab on iOS.

That said, I do stand corrected. I did not realize you could recover and will update the post.
You’re right, not possible in-app that I know of so is currently a website-only function, but a little-known feature of iOS is you can hold the refresh arrow in Safari and you’ll be given the option for the desktop version of the website. I just tested it on my iPad and was able to restore files through iCloud.com, so I’m pretty happy with that.
 

Brammy

macrumors 68000
Sep 17, 2008
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You’re right, not possible in-app that I know of so is currently a website-only function, but a little-known feature of iOS is you can hold the refresh arrow in Safari and you’ll be given the option for the desktop version of the website. I just tested it on my iPad and was able to restore files through iCloud.com, so I’m pretty happy with that.

Huh, must be an iOS 11 thing. You couldn't do this on iOS 10.
 

Tovenaar

macrumors member
Oct 21, 2008
95
117
I believe that having offline access to all your files is an important element of iPad storage. Currently iCloud Drive doesn't allow that.

I use DropBox and iCloud Drive. I tried moving exclusively to iCloud Drive since I pay for extra iCloud storage (for backup) and haven't been able to sync my files to my iPad for offline use. I'm told you can do this on a file-by-file basis, but really I need a solution to sync up the whole lot. DropBox does this slightly better, letting me choose folders to sync.
 

rbregt

macrumors newbie
Aug 8, 2011
6
1
Netherlands
Nice thread. What I’m missing here is that when one relies on cloud storage completely, there is no access to your files when the provider, e.g. Apple, Dropbox, Microsoft or Google prohibits access to your account. You will then be locked out of any data.

How are your views? How have you solved this?
 

sparksd

macrumors 603
Jun 7, 2015
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Seattle WA
Nice thread. What I’m missing here is that when one relies on cloud storage completely, there is no access to your files when the provider, e.g. Apple, Dropbox, Microsoft or Google prohibits access to your account. You will then be locked out of any data.

How are your views? How have you solved this?

Relying on a single cloud storage provider completely is nearly the same as having all your data stored locally on a single computer that is not backed up. The solution is to use more than one provider, keeping copies on both. Never put all your eggs in one basket.
 

DNichter

macrumors G3
Apr 27, 2015
9,184
10,722
Philadelphia, PA
I am iOS only for my computing needs and I use a combination of iCloud and my NAS to manage any files that I need access to. All of my important data is in iCloud though and have never had any problems.
 

EssentialParado

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Feb 17, 2005
1,161
32
Nice thread. What I’m missing here is that when one relies on cloud storage completely, there is no access to your files when the provider, e.g. Apple, Dropbox, Microsoft or Google prohibits access to your account. You will then be locked out of any data.

How are your views? How have you solved this?
I think that was a trust element I had to come to terms with.

When I thought about it in more detail, I realized so much of my important information is already stored in the cloud in some way.

- I use Trello for a ton of important work related things (this is something you can’t make an offline backup for).
- All of my Facebook photos, friends, and history also means a lot to me but I don’t back that up.
- My Apple Notes stores a ton of important information for me, also Pages and Numbers, but all of this data is stored on the cloud (although I think devices store local copies?).
- I have Apple Music and I have Netflix and other streaming solutions for media.
- And then most important of all, my email has been 100% cloud for years now... I used to do regular offline backups but it’s just become robust enough that I’ve begun to trust my email out there in the cloud.

So I realized 80-90% of my most important things are already in the cloud somewhere or another, and it’s just heading more and more in that direction. So that other 10-20%? I may as well put that there too. It seems inevitable.

I’ve never heard of a situation where Apple’s ever denied someone access to their account or accidentally deleted someone’s account. If there was even a 0.0000001% rate of those things occurring my opinion would be very different of course. I think customers would revolt and lose trust immediately in any service that ever did that, for any reason.


// Edit: Given the above, it may be worth mentioning that I have also for a few years been focusing toward philosophically living a life that is quite minimal. I’m ruthless when it comes to deciding what is worth keeping around — digitally or in the real world — so I am reevaluating my belongings and how necessary they are and try to keep hoarding to as little as possible. This might explain why I’m more willing to take this leap but others may call me crazy.
 
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