Is it foolish to use iCloud as the only backup for a Mac?

Discussion in 'Apple Music, Apple Pay, iCloud, Apple Services' started by sn, Oct 4, 2015.

  1. sn, Oct 4, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2015

    sn macrumors 6502

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    Apr 22, 2011
    #1
    Hi all,

    I wonder if you can help me decide whether or not it's unwise to rely on iCloud as a backup rather than a physical external drive.

    It's been a while since my MacBook was able to backup to Time Machine as my external hard drive has run out of space. I was going to head into town today and buy a larger one because it's worrying me that I don't have a recent backup - but then I thought about it...

    As an Apple Music subscriber with iCloud Music Library switched on, there's a copy of all my iTunes music saved in the cloud. I also have iCloud Photo Library switched on which means the same thing for my photos and videos. And I know I can just take my documents (Word, Pages, PPT, Keynote, Photoshop etc) and dump those in the cloud too. Applications I've bought from the App Store could be re-downloaded if they were to be removed.

    Therefore, am I wrong in thinking that, in the event of my computer being wiped, getting my files back would be as simple as signing into my iCloud account and letting everything copy over from there?

    I'm pretty keen to save myself having to buy a new external hard drive but I'm worried I'm missing something here. Can anyone advise?

    Thanks,
    Sushil
     
  2. AlliFlowers Contributor

    AlliFlowers

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    #2
    That's pretty much what I do (although I do have my entire music library backed up to Dropbox).
     
  3. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #3
    You are correct with this part, but I still think it is a bad idea not to have a local backup on a hard drive. Here is the issue I see... iCloud Drive is a sync service. So whatever is in the local iCloud Drive folder gets synced to iCloud servers. Things like your Word and Pages documents you mentioned. So what happens if you accidentally delete those or they get corrupted. Those deletions or corrupted files will get synced to the iCloud servers and you have lost the original good files forever. I would not rely on this as my only backup.
     
  4. sn thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Apr 22, 2011
    #4
    Good point, I'd not thought about that. I guess the same thing could happen to my photos as well? So, if a bunch of my photos get deleted from my Photos app, they'll be removed from iCloud Photos Library too?
     
  5. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #5
    Yes exactly.... that would be my worry.
     
  6. sn thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #6
    Hmm, food for thought. Looks like I may be buying a hard drive after all - thanks for the info
     
  7. Rigby macrumors 601

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    #7
    I agree with what was said. iCloud was not designed as a backup solution. It also IMO has been way to unreliable for that purpose (just think of all the issues people had with their music libraries when Apple Music was introduced). I have seen entire folders randomly disappear in iCloud Drive.

    That said, there are a number of backup solutions for the Mac that can use cloud services such as Amazon Glacier. Personally I back up my most important files encrypted in the cloud, but also keep complete local disk backups on USB3 HDDs (BTW, Best Buy currently has a great WD 2TB drive on sale).
     
  8. Tech198 macrumors G4

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    Mar 21, 2011
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    Australia, Perth
    #8
    It's always unwise to rely on one solution... even multiple solutions if its just cloud based only.

    Not very likely for all services to down at the time time u may be using, but it there is an outage it may affect all services u use at a time u need your data..

    keep an external drive round with a backup or two... It may be more convenient to reply on the Dropbox, or iCloud drive, but what happens when u can't gain access to iCloud or dropbox?

    It u want a backup solution, use carbonite.... the next are designed as sync solutions.. although u may only access dropbox at once and never sync to any other device, its still not really a backup.
     
  9. Alameda macrumors 6502a

    Alameda

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    Jun 22, 2012
    #9
    I use two USB drives for Time Machine. The Mac automatically alternates backups between the two. I use two drives solely as a defense against one drive experiencing a mechanical failure.

    Two weeks ago, my MacBook was water damaged. I bought a new one and used Time Machine to restore everything. Last week, I upgraded to the new El Capitan OS. I then discovered that it wouldn't work at all with my company's Outlook email, so I again used Time Machine to go back to the previous OS. In both cases, Time Machine was incredibly simple, fast and effective, restoring my system to precisely its previous state.
     
  10. sn thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #10
    Yes, I've used Time Machine before, its very good.
     
  11. Alameda macrumors 6502a

    Alameda

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    #11
    So my point is: Why stop using something that is simple and effective?

    I think these online backup services are better because they provide disaster recovery, like if there's a house fire or flood. I am considering one as a supplement to my Time Machines.

    If you use Time Machine, I recommend that you enable FileVault on the Time Machine drive. Just be sure to remember the password.
     
  12. sn thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #12
    The reason I was considering stopping using something as simple and effective as Time Machine was because it would require me to spend money on a new hard drive. This is not something I'm against spending money on per se, but I was just wondering whether, as a member of various iCloud services, I may be spending money unnecessarily.

    To be clear, I wanted to find out whether or not by iCloud service were already providing me with a suitable backup solution, negating the need for me to buy an external hard drive to backup to.

    Also, if my method of backing up to iCloud was an effective one (which is sounds like it isn't), it would be even simpler than using Time Machine because I wouldn't have to remember to actually do a backup - it just happens automatically (eg every time I buy a picture, it gets saved to the cloud, same with iTunes etc)

    However, as a result of the advice I've been given in the posts above regarding these services being focused on syncing rather than backing up (meaning that, for example, files being removed from one device could instantly be removed across all my devices), I think I should stick to the traditional method of backing up to a physical drive instead of the cloud. I'll have a look at options today (thank you Rigby by the way for the suggestion - I live in the UK though so unfortunately no Best Buy here. Hopefully can get a decent price on that model though).

    Thanks
     
  13. flyingspur macrumors regular

    flyingspur

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    #13
    External HDD's and cloud back up at least. Redundancy is key for failure. As Rigby said, head to Best Buy for that deal.

    Arq is super easy and encrypts on your rig before sending your back up to cloud storage. You have full control of the keys also. Nobody else.
    https://www.arqbackup.com/

    I use it with Google Nearline. Cheap and fast, up and down. No waiting.
    https://cloud.google.com/storage-nearline/
     
  14. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #14
    +1 for Arq. I use it with Amazon S3 to backup about 30GB for 90 cents a month.
     
  15. flyingspur macrumors regular

    flyingspur

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    #15
    If your using AWS. You might want to follow @ylastic on twitter. US East had a big outage around first of this month.
    AWS was not forth coming with this info.
     
  16. whodatrr macrumors 6502a

    whodatrr

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    #16
    Drives are cheap, and putting all your eggs into one basket is never a good idea.

    regarding iCloud, I recently did have issues with a backup, but that was with an iPhone. I had briefly lost wifi during my last backup, which corrupted the snap. Actually, this happened during my last two backups and is a known issue. When I went to recover my backup (replacement iPhone), it seems to recover Ok, but tons of data was missing (half my texts, 2/3 of my photos, etc.). Luckily, I had an older snap to revert to. but I still lost two weeks' worth of data - or I would have, had I not also kept a local backup.

    This sort of thing, corrupted snaps, is more common in the backup world than many realize, especially over the cloud. Again, I prefer not to keep all my eggs in one basket. Drives are cheap... hedge your bets.
     
  17. Rhonindk macrumors 68020

    Rhonindk

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    #17
    Look at it as an on-site / off-site back up strategy.
    Smarter to have both.
     
  18. bob24 macrumors 6502

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    Sep 25, 2012
    Location:
    Dublin, Ireland
    #18
    One thing you might want to know about this: your music which is matched by Apple Music is only available in the cloud as DRM protected files. This means that if you lose/delete your original files, re-download them from Apple Music, and then stop subscribing to Apple Music - you won't be able to play the music you own any-more.

    IN other words, you MUST keep your files on you computer and have a backup somewhere which is not Apple Music (this is different from iTunes Match which allows you to re-download DRM-free music).
     
  19. sn, Oct 14, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2015

    sn thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #19
    Very true, I hadn't thought about that - thank you. This could potentially be an absolute nightmare for me - and not just for the reason you mentioned...

    I tend to buy a fair bit of music as well as streaming off Apple Music. What I do is buy it from sites like Beatport, store and organise it in iTunes and copy it over to USBs for when I'm DJing. If that all got lost and I had to redownload it all from iTunes, I believe I'd be prevented from copying the files over to USBs and using with my CDJs. Plus, I've heard that when iTunes 'matches' your songs, it doesn't always match them exactly - meaning the new versions could be ever so slightly different versions to the ones I bought. This on its own is enough to completely rule out iCloud as a backup option but I hadn't thought about it until your post so thanks for that.
     
  20. sn thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2011
    #20
    Thank you all for the advice. For the various reasons pointed out by you guys I've decided my clever idea wasn't so clever after all and have bought myself a new hard drive so will be backing up my computer the sensible way (actually bought the 1TB version of the one that Rigby linked me too - thanks for the recommendation, Rigby).

    Just completed my first backup in about four months and the peace of mind certainly does feel good!

    Thanks again everyone!
     

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