iCloud can’t be trusted. Apple Backup files are unusable

Apple tech support for iCloud is pretty terrible.

One of their common troubleshooting step is to sign out of iCloud and then sign back in, the 2nd Level support person didn’t even understand but that would force archive copy of the iCloud Drive and then begin downloading the iCloud files again and when you have Close to 2 TB of data in iCloud that will take quite a while and if you don’t move the archive copy off of the system drive you’ll end up filling it up and your machine will become unusable.

I was aware of this because that’s what happened to me, I had to restore from my Backup to get the machine back up and running.

Apple said that they could provide a backup of the iCloud drives from the server and sent me 20 zip files that had other zip files inside of them with no way to expand them so that I could get my iCloud drive back, even Engineering can’t explain how to fully get the files out.

Absolutely useless.

Apple News + has a Macworld article about how unreliable iCloud is.

After signing out of iCloud and signing back in again, I’ve left my machine on for eight days and it has still not fully synced. I have a 2 gb internet connection, a M1 MacBook Pro w 32 Gb of storage and a 2Tb drive.

I have optimize iCloud turned off. But right now I do not have any known good copy of all of my files.

Many of the files and folder, show uploading and downloading.

So in summary, no restorable backup from Apple available, files not syncing, tech-support not very helpful, No one taking responsibility for this problem.

I have had five calls with Apple over the last several months and after doing some troubleshooting we had to reschedule a call to continue, we made an appointment but I never received a call back from Apple. I don’t think any other service provider could get by with not keeping their appointments.

Not sure of the plan forward, when you feel like you’re walking across the pond with ice Regarding your data still being there.

Is dropbox for Reliable?

Should I just move all of the iCloud files to my Nas and just keep the bare minimum and iCloud. Of course, the challenge would be sinking them to always have always have the latest copy of the file.

When it works, iCloud is awesome I like being able to move between the different devices and have everything available, except when it’s not available.

I actually had a 2nd Level engineer say that when you make a lot of changes all at once in iCloud, it can get confused. I have just started noticing that I have about 150 files w 0 file size.

I regularly copied the iCloud drives files onto an external Drive and probably have 3 to 4 TB of copies but I am not sure which ones are most complete.

Any advice.

Do I start killing the bird (see above Macworld link)

Right now I’m totally demoralized as I have been resting with this issue for about nine months now.

Backblaze for Backup
Dropbox for syncs
iCloud for minimal stuff that can be easily downloaded from internet if needed.
Couple External drives for local backup copies backed up via Arq


It sounds like you have done everything you can. Glenn’s article on TidBITs seems to cover most/all of the usual tricks.

So I would protect the files that I do have. Making sure I have backups of the files that Apple sent me along with any other copies I have made in the past. And once I have verified that there is plenty of room on my internal drive to hold everything that is being downloaded from iCloud (plus extra room for the system to work) I would give it some more time.

ICloud can be trusted to be slower than Dropbox, Google Drive, or OneDrive. But worse case, if you have copies of everything you can always merge the lot, de-duplicate it, and start re-organizing your files. And while I was doing that I would be deciding what cloud service I was going to use instead of iCloud.

Good luck.

I use iCloud as little as possible Anything I put on it is usually moved to a external drive or to Google Drive. The files that I leave on iCloud are automatically copied to an external drive by Chronosync. And everything is backed up to Blackblaze B2.

I personally use Microsoft OneDrive for all my files, but I still have TimeMachine, Carbon Copy Cloner, and Backblaze backups of all those files.

These topics might help:

Happy reading!

Oh man and I just thought about using iCloud Keychain / passwords instead of 1P.
Also what’s about using Apple Notes.

These issue regarding iCloud Drive do really let me think about getting also alternatives for the other apps.

Maybe I should start using my Nextcloud more often…

A recent ATP discussion resonated with my experience. The consensus was that iCloud is multiple things with one label: some are rock solid and no-one ever thinks about them (e.g. “find my”) while others are less reliable, but probably not much more so than many other cloud services (e.g. iCloud Drive) and there’s a big difference between iCloud sync (where apps sync data themselves using iCloud) and file sync with iCloud Drive, which is probably the most problematic.

But the biggest problem of all with iCloud is that it is almost completely opaque. You have no idea and absolutely no control over what is going on, and no possibility of fixing it if something isn’t quite right. Worse still, there’s nothing that will allow you to clear it out and start again from a backup, partly because there’s no sensible way of getting a backup.

Dropbox was seen as a more reliable file synching and sharing service but it was rapidly removing fine grained control and information too.

The discussion said maybe we were better off running FTP to our own servers and managing it all ourselves!


Firstly that sucks and I’m sorry this has happened to you. The last thing you need is people who are going to continually tell you about backup strategies that don’t’ help after the event.

Key thing is that you need to grab as much data as you can, put it somewhere you control and then use other services to back this up. Cloud services are not a backup, they are a convenience.

I highly recommend back blaze with a revision history that makes sense for you (ie how long changed versions will be kept, 3 months is fine for me).

Once again, this is a horrible situation, and I’m sorry it’s happened.

I disagree. One reason businesses of all sizes are moving their data to the cloud is because they are not equipped to protect their servers, etc. against today’s threats. Personal NAS like synology and qnap are favorite targets of hackers and even Apple is having to constantly fix vulnerabilities in all of their devices. They have patched 25 webkit vulnerabilities this year alone.

I spent years checking logs every day and have no desire to do that at home. No home servers for me. YMMV


You have it in a nutshell right here, the corollary being “When it doesn’t work it’s effing terrible”. Unfortunately this is a rather common complaint.

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Why can’t you expand the zips in the zips?

  • Is it an available disk space problem? If so, maybe an external drive can help hold the extra until you get sorted out.
  • If it’s trouble reading the zip format would a 3rd-party zip client like 7zip be able to pull it off?

It sounds like Apple says these are the contents of your iCloud drive, if so, I would concentrate on trying to get access to them, then completely change my backup strategy once I had access to my data.

I might disagree, as I don’t it is as common as it is portrayed in this forum. When you think of the millions of people using iCloud Drive, the percentage of problems are quite small. We just have (1) a very vocal minority, who (2) tend to have edge cases and stress the boundaries. Most users don’t fall into these categories.

For various reasons I use OneDrive, Google Drive, but my primary is iCloud Drive. I have had significant issues with OneDrive, Google Drive and Dropbox, some which I have been able to recover from, others which I haven’t. However my use case is fairly normal.

I have had my own small business for 23 years, and have been on iCloud Drive for the past 12 years. 100’s of thousands of files, but all mainstream; iWork, Excel, Word, etc. With all of my files, I only use about 350GB of storage.

So does iCloud Drive sometimes fail? Most likely, Yes. Syncing of Apple Notes was quite bad for a long time. However their sync process and reliability to me seems to be improving constantly.

Is Apple / iCloud Drive transparent when there are issues? No, but then neither is any of the other services. With Google or Microsoft, you have a few more granular options to check, but I haven’t seen anything that tells me how to re-force a sync right before I get on a plane with no Internet access.

I use iCloud Drive not because it is tremendously better, but because the Apple Ecosystem works much better when most of my workflow is inside of it. And I accept the occasional fubar that happens (iPad Files sidebar constantly disappearing!?), because overall I am much happier and stress free.

And like everyone else has commented, a backup strategy helps.

I apologize for my comments, but I read way too much bashing of Apple in this forum, which is supposed to be attracting Apple enthusiasts. Glad you guys don’t sell for me. You would drive all of my customers away


I agree with everything you said. What I meant to say, and should have said explicitly, is that it is a rather common complaint on this forum.

As someone who is not shy when it comes to “bashing” Apple from time to time, I welcome your comments. When I point out that “the emperor has no clothes” I normally try to include a reason for my comments. Your post offers an opposing view which provides balance for someone seeking answers. :+1:

Thanks. In response to your preferences, I am also a big fan of Google Workspace and run my business on that platform. Have had no complaints.

However, being a business owner, it is much harder for me to separate my work and personal life. And Google is missing so much that Apple offers, i.e. terrible notes app, pop-up’s on verification codes, iOS and iPad apps, mail app, etc, that I am OK with settling in order to get the overall experience

Thanks again for all your comments on the forum

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That said, I’ve never been comfortable using iCloud Drive as the repository for all of my documents. Early on there was what seemed a golden period :slightly_smiling_face: when Dropbox did everything I needed with reliability and even joy. But it got a reputation for heavy-handedly inserting itself into macOS and Apple clamped down on the APIs it was permitted to use.

Today I keep very little in the folders of iCloud Drive and only documents that I have manually copied (not synced) from locations on my internal SSD.

However, I do make use of and appreciate the behind-the-scenes CloudKit syncing performed by apps like NotePlan, Contacts, Calendar, Messages, Find My, and Keychain. But not Photos, Notes, or Reminders :slightly_smiling_face:.

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I’ve replaced iCloud with an external SSD. I sync individual files I need on my iPad, which is now a rarity as I only use very few apps that sync with iCloud.

iCloud is too unreliable, IMO, and having had similar fruitless conversations with Apple tech, who were about as useful as a chocolate teapot, I decided to move off iCloud too about 99%.

Apple support seems unable to maintain and fix their own Tech. That erodes trust which in the end causes people to go elsewhere.

Do you distinguish at all between iCloud implemented as iCloud Drive and iCloud implemented as CloudKit?

Not really. I do understand the difference, but both have issues. My decision was to remove iCloud completely where possible.

The problem is that there could be more than 250 zip files inside the 25 zip files that they sent