Does restoring from Time Machine override recent iCloud files?

I am going to be setting up a new MacBook Pro and I plan to restore from a Time Machine backup. However, the Time Machine backup will be a few days old and I will be working on files in iCloud Drive in the meantime. My question is, when I restore from the TM backup to set up the new Mac would any recent documents I’ve been working on revert back to older versions? Or does iCloud sync the new updated versions to replace the old restored files?

I don’t actually know the answer, but what I would expect is that if you have already logged in and synced with iCloud (and optimise storage is not on), then doing a Time Machine restore should overwrite the iCloud documents.

If you restore from Time Machine first, then connect to iCloud I would expect iCloud to overwrite what’s on your computer.

Hopefully someone with experience will offer an opinion.

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That makes sense, restoring via Time Machine will produce changes to the filesystem which will need to be synced like any other change.

Essentially, as far as iCloud is concerned, changes resulted by the restore will be treated like any other change.

To avoid doubts, I would actually turn off backing up iCloud Drive to the TM backup on the old machine, and then reactivate the sync after restore on the new one.

See here (TLDR; if optimize storage is on, iCloud Drive is NOT backed up to Time Machine).

I would actually expect an entirely different behaviour as Time Machine will restore files with old timestamps during restore and I would expect iCloud Drive to then redownload newer files from the cloud when the machine first boots up after setup as it recognises these are older versions.

Time Machine restore runs first during new Mac setup, not the iCloud syncing. iCloud will see these as old versions and should update them accordingly.

To the syncing process it will all simply look as if the machine has not synced since the last TM backup date. Like it’s not been powered on.

I have never ended up with older versions of files in similar situations with OneDrive, Google Drive or iCloud.

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Thanks everyone for the responses. I only worked on a few files and the changes seem to have synced and replaced the old backed up files.

However, I’ve seen people reporting that the old files replaced their newer versions in other threads online. So please don’t assume this will work for you if you’re reading this later.

That could depend on whether they did the restore as part of the Mac setup or just selectively restored some files from the Time Machine backup afterwards.

In any case, the Apple support article above does serve to make sure iCloud Drive files are not included in Time Machine backups, helping to avoid doubt on this.

(Though I personally feel this is a bad decision and bad advice on Apple’s part as it suggests to users that files stored in iCloud are treated as a backup already, so there’s no need to back them up locally via Time Machine. iCloud is not a backup.)