Seriously - iCloud Drive, what?

Discussion in 'OS X Yosemite (10.10)' started by Notawiz, Dec 4, 2014.

  1. Notawiz macrumors newbie

    Sep 7, 2008
    Please help me.

    Please tell, in as few words and as simple terms as you can, what is the difference between iCloud and iCloud Drive! Why are there these two systems or titles or whatever they are?

    1. Do I have files on my Mac, on my iPad, in the cloud or in all of these?

    2. If they are in the cloud, are they both in iCloud AND in the iCloud Drive? Are there two (or more) sets of all my files?

    3. When I try to disconnect iCloud on my Mac/iPad, why is my Mac/iPad asking me if I want to delete all iCloud files on my Mac/iPad? Does that mean they are on my Mac/iPad? Why? Aren't they supposed to be in the cloud, hence the name, iCloud? Isn't that the whole freaking point?

    4. When I make changes to a Numbers file on my iPad, they should be seen in the file when I access it with my Numbers on my Mac, shouldn't they? Well they don't. I've tried rebooting both my Mac and my iPad.

    What am I missing? Since MobileME Apple has been struggling with this. Is this really such a hard thing to construct? Why has Google had this for years now? Why am I even bothering with these mediocre Apple services? Do you guys have any problems?

    I'm at my wit's end again here. Please, help me understand! What is going on here?
  2. mmomega macrumors demi-god


    Dec 30, 2009
    DFW, TX
    I'm sure there are a lot of questions to your answers that someone could explain better than I.

    The only advise I would give is, if something is stressing you out that much, it may be time to let it go and forget about it. I removed what little stress I had by letting the ex-wife go and stopped trying to be my family and friends tech support and remind them there is a company that builds your computer and they may be better for some questions than I am:)

    My stuff(computers, iCloud, whatever) seems to hardly ever give me issues while 1 or 2 friends constantly say one thing or another "never works right" and how to fix it. The thing for me is, if I never have a problem then I have no experience in fixing it but here's to hoping a helpful person on the forums can give you some answers.
  3. dsemf macrumors 6502

    Jul 26, 2014
    I can take a shot at this, although I am sure there are more knowledgeable people.

    The term iCloud refers to the overall set of capabilities, while iCloud Drive refers to file sharing between devices. If you go to System Preferences > iCloud on the Mac or Settings > iCloud on a IOS device, you will set a list of iCloud capabilities, one of which is iCloud Drive. As of Yosemite and IOS 8, iCloud Drive replaces the previous file sharing capability.

    As far as the Mac is concerned, the files that you move to iCloud Drive are also on your local disk. These are located at ~/Library/Mobile Documents. When you run a iCloud Drive enabled application such as Numbers, you have the option of managing files in iCloud Drive. It is up to you which files are "in the cloud" and which are local in your Documents folder or wherever you choose to put them.

    For IOS devices, due to the smaller storage capacities, I suspect files are only downloaded when opened.

    When Numbers opens a cloud document, it actually opens the one in ~/Library/Mobile Documents. When you save your changes, that one is updated and then a background system process copies it to the cloud. The reverse process also occurs. When a cloud document is changed by a IOS device, the Mac sees the change and copies the updated file to ~/Library/Mobile Documents. The part I am not sure of is whether the Mobile Documents version is updated in real time or only when an application is trying to open the file.

    Question 3. The main purpose of iCloud Drive is to share files while maintaining data integrity. If you only had files in the cloud, a cloud failure could result in losing your data. By having a local copy in Mobile Documents means that they will be backed up by Time Machine. It also makes it possible to work on files when there is no internet connection. In this case, the syncing will occur when the internet connection becomes available. The rational for deleting the local files when disconnecting the iCloud Drive is less clear. My guess is that it is to make sure there is a clean starting point if you choose to re-connect later.

    Question 4. Not sure what is happening here. I did a quick test and it worked as expected for me.

    In summary, I failed to keep it to a few words, but hopefully this does reduce some of the confusion.

  4. simonsi macrumors 601


    Jan 3, 2014
    That was a pretty good explanation but just in case another set of words helps:


    Yes, you have a set in each device and a set in the iCloud

    It needs to know if you want to keep or delete the local copy. If you are disconnecting a device to sell it, you may want to remove the files prior to say giving it to a family member (so not a full wipe all data).

    You should see the latest version, if you have finished editing on your Mac close the app and it should update the iCloud files (assuming it has a working connection to the internet).

    If you then go to another device signed into the same iCloud account and also with a working connection to the internet, the copy of the file you open should have the updates you made on your Mac. This is subject to enough time being allowed to sync up from the Mac and down to the other device.

    This is the same as Dropbox, Box, Copy and Google Drive etc etc

    If you don't close the app then it may need to wait for a periodic save, or for you to save the file manually, or for some other trigger, it may depend on the App you are using.

    Note if the file exists on both devices it has synced at some time, if you are missing updates then something may be stopping it syncing now so check that both devices are still signed into the same iCloud account and have working internet connections, then try signing out and back in. It is a fairly simple task but there are several steps that have to happen, if any of them don't then you get the local version of the file opened on the device.

    Once setup this works pretty seamlessly for me using iCloud, Dropbox, Box and Google Drive.
  5. Notawiz thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 7, 2008
    Thanks for the clarification. The iCloud (Drive) seems to be pretty much how I understood it should be.

    I think the situation described in the question 4 made me ask the questions 1-3. Because my iCloud sync is really, REALLY slow. The sync I mentioned finally happened - but it took the better part of the day.

    Can I ask you to do a little test? Create a new document in the Pages on your Mac. Write something, save it. How long does it take, before it shows up on your iPad Pages browser? It takes about two minutes here. Now, on the iPad, add some text, close the document and close the app. For me, the procedure of sending the file to the cloud takes about ten seconds, by the way. This less than 100kB file.

    Open Pages on your Mac. Open the document. Do you get the modified version? If you do, WOW. For me, it takes at least three to four minutes. And I have the fastest internet connection there is on the market.

    Try the same thing with Numbers. For me, it takes a minute or two longer to see the file show up on my iPad. And at least ten to fifteen minutes before the modified file shows up on my Mac. At the moment, I'm running a new test. It's been almost an hour, and I still don't have the modified version on my Mac.

    Now imagine this, when you're working: if you didn't notice that the file wasn't synced and you continued your work on your Mac - you would, of course, end up with two different versions. Hanging around, somewhere in my iCloud. And then, later, when you open the file either on your Mac or on your iPad, the app asks: "Which version do you want keep?" Of course you have to keep them both and try to find a way to unify the data from both versions.

    I also checked the iCloud website. There, the file was synced. And when I modified it, the modified version showed up on my iPad in about two minutes. But still nothing on my Mac. It still is the original file I made on my Mac.

    Could it be that there is something I can do? Maybe there is a wrong kind of setting somewhere? The settings in my iOS and OS X Preferences seem to be what they should - are there any other places that I should check?

    What could possibly cause these delays?
  6. nj1266 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 15, 2012
    Long Beach, CA
    Could you please tell me how I can get access to Mobile Documents on my MAC?

    Last night I lost all my documents on iCloud. They just vanished. I called Apple tech and they were useless. They did not even tell me that they maybe still on my Mac.
  7. simonsi macrumors 601


    Jan 3, 2014
    /Users/<yourusername>/Library/Mobile Documents/com~apple~CloudDocs the path

    But the whole point is to sync what is on your Mac with what is in iCloud so it may depend on how you lost them.

    Do you have a TM backup or CCC clone taken beforehand?

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