Please Explain iCloud Storage to Me.

Discussion in 'Apple Music, Apple Pay, iCloud, Apple Services' started by Hrothgar, Dec 5, 2018.

  1. Hrothgar macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2009
    Location:
    New York
    #1
    I'm sure this is a stupid question. But is iCloud storage just a backup of what's on my computer, or a separate drive? That is, if I move my Photos library to iCloud, are the photos off my computer? Does my computer access the photos on iCloud as if iCloud was an external drive? Similarly, if I move documents onto iCloud, is it like they're on an external drive? Or is iCloud just a back up of what's on my computer?

    Are there relevant settings?
     
  2. Hrothgar thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2009
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    New York
    #3
    Thanks. This is helpful, but I'm not sure about one thing. Let's say I move a bunch of word documents off my computer's hard drive onto iCloud. If I want to edit a document, I open it out of iCloud, edit it, and when I save it it saves to the version on iCloud? It's not also on my computer's hard drive? And I can't access the document unless I have an Internet connection?

    I ask because I also use Microsoft's One Drive. As far as I can tell, One Drive is just a sync'd copy of what in my One Drive folder on my computer's hard drive. And If I choose not to sync all of my One Drive folders to my computer, then I have to download a file first before I can use it.
     
  3. BigMcGuire Contributor

    BigMcGuire

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2012
    Location:
    California
    #4
    It's the same thing as OneDrive basically. You have a copy of the file on your drive and that is what gets synced to the cloud if the data changes. It just won't get synced to iCloud if you don't have an internet connection, but will when you reconnect automatically, just like OneDrive.

    I too have OneDrive (Office 365) and I pay for iCloud 2TB family plan $9.99/mo with family members sharing that 2TB plan. They're basically the same thing. OneDrive has a few more features like selective sync to computers so I use it for work and personal data and iCloud for personal data. iCloud does not have selective sync, it's an all or nothing thing.
     
  4. techwarrior macrumors 65816

    techwarrior

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2009
    Location:
    Colorado
    #5
    There is a difference between iCloud and OneDrive. Both create a folder structure on your hard drive and sync files to the cloud. But, Apple has built a mechanism into iCloud Drive which keeps files in the cloud if your Mac hard drive is low on free space. To enable (or Disable) this, System Preferences > iCloud > iCloud Drive (options) > Optimize Mac Storage.

    The description says "The Full Contents of iCloud Drive will be stored on this Mac if you have enough space. Older Documents will be stored only in iCloud Drive when space is needed".

    Both services are sort of selective. With OneDrive, anything you drop in that folder structure will be in both places, but you choose what you drop into the folders.

    iCloud will sync Desktop and Documents folder (if you opt to enable these), plus a number of Apps can be set to store files in iCloud Drive by default (though you can manually move or save in other folders.
     
  5. Hrothgar thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Mar 11, 2009
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    New York
    #6
    Thank you. Another question, if I may. Until recently, people wanted very large hard drives on their computers -- I had a 1Tb and filled it. Now, it seems that people are buying computers with much smaller drives 512 or even 256 (usually SSD), and I understood that the reason the drive space was not needed was because people could store stuff in the cloud instead of on their computer's hard drive. But if cloud storage is just a sync of the computer drive, how does that work? For example, I've got about 600gb of music/movie files. If I had only a 512 gb SSD drive in my computer, could I store them on iCloud and still access them as if they were on my hard drive? I.e., can I move my iTunes media library to iCloud and still run iTunes without the files being on my computer? (I actually use an external hard drive for my iTunes, but I'm curious whether I could use the cloud instead.)
     
  6. tromboneaholic Suspended

    tromboneaholic

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    Jun 9, 2004
    Location:
    Clearwater, FL
    #7
    One reason people can use smaller internal drives is because the ports to connect external drives have gotten much faster over the years. A problem with relying too heavily on cloud storage (iCloud, Dropbox , etc...) is that you don't have access to the data in the cloud if you don't have an internet connection.
     
  7. BigMcGuire Contributor

    BigMcGuire

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2012
    Location:
    California
    #8
    Definitely. I used a Chromebook for several years as my primary computer because I used to do everything in Google Drive via google documents and file management on Google Drive (200GB). After losing some files permanently because I didn't have a backup of them, I've gone back to files on my hard drive - and Office 365 (Word).

    Have to realize that most people are not like you with 600GB of music/movies. Most people stream their music, most people do Netflix or youtube, and would be lucky to have more than 2GB of files.

    For people like you, yeah smaller internal drives don't work, but like @tromboneaholic mentioned, USB C and USB 3.0 allow for some FAST external drives - and the cost of getting a 4TB spinner or 1-2TB SSD is under $150. So most people will have a small operating system drive and then save $ by getting an external drive and dealing with their data that way.

    600GB via cloud is going to be time consuming. I have a 230GB photo library and even with Google Photos it takes a LOT to work with it. Days and days of almost no progress on iCloud has me not using that.

    Most cloud services, even with super fast internet aren't going to react well to anything over 150GB. I'd stick to disk for anything over 200GB - and I have access to high end FIOS.

    That's my recommendation anyway. I've got about 300GB of personal data (including my 230GB of photos). I have 2 time machine and CCC backup drives (one at work, one at home). I have BackBlaze B2 with Arq (https://www.arqbackup.com/ ) for my cloud "backup" solutions. B2 is blazing fast but it costs (but super cheap - $1/mo for me).

    I treat OneDrive/iCloud as more of a syncing service than anything. I don't use Google anymore.
     
  8. Hrothgar thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2009
    Location:
    New York
    #9
    Perfect. Thanks. I do use an external LaCie drive for my music files. And I agree that, putting aside media and photos, the remainder of my files is probably about 200 gb (although my wife has a lot of large Photoshop-type of docs on her user account).

    Although now I guess my question is why my Mini says that my user account takes up 450 gb of my hard drive, but if I look at each separate component (Applications, Library, etc.) they add up to about 50 gb.

    Odd stuff.
     

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8 December 5, 2018