iCloud’s giv­ing me a headache!

Nav­i­gate your way smoothly through any clear air tur­bu­lence


Ap­ple has de­signed iCloud to look like a sin­gle ho­moge­nous ser­vice, like email or the web.

How­ever, it’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that, just like these other parts of the in­ter­net, iCloud is re­ally a col­lec­tion of a few dozen dif­fer­ent tech­nolo­gies and pro­to­cols that all just hap­pen to be hosted on servers owned by Ap­ple. So just be­cause one part of iCloud is bro­ken for you, it doesn’t mean that ev­ery­thing else will be too. iCloud Drive, for ex­am­ple is en­abled sep­a­rately for each app. If an app isn’t sync­ing data prop­erly, make sure that this is ac­tu­ally turned on. In OS X you can do this in iCloud’s pref­er­ences by click­ing the Op­tions but­ton next to iCloud Drive. In iOS, tap Set­tings > iCloud > iCloud Drive. If it’s en­abled for all de­vices and your doc­u­ment still doesn’t sync, try mov­ing the file out of the cloud al­to­gether. Click iCloud Drive in the Fin­der side­bar (or choose Go > iCloud Drive from the menu bar) to see ev­ery doc­u­ment or­gan­ised into sub­fold­ers by app (and any you’ve cre­ated). You can drag the prob­lem file to your Desk­top and it will be deleted from all other de­vices. Then you can drag it back, or recre­ate it afresh to cor­rect any doc­u­ment cor­rup­tion. iCloud Drive was only in­tro­duced with iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite. On ear­lier ver­sions, apps sync their data in­vis­i­bly us­ing ‘Doc­u­ments in the Cloud’ and the only re­li­able way to clear iCloud data is to delete the app al­to­gether.

You may find that some iOS apps don’t sync their data con­sis­tently. This may be be­cause they are set to only sync over Wi-Fi, to pre­serve your cel­lu­lar data al­lot­ment. This set­ting is also en­abled in­de­pen­dently for ev­ery in­di­vid­ual app – you can change it by tap­ping Set­tings > Mo­bile and scrolling down to the list of apps. If the date and time on your de­vice aren’t set au­to­mat­i­cally, then they can drift out of sync with the iCloud servers and this will very of­ten pre­vent apps from up­load­ing data to iCloud Drive be­cause they can’t tell which is the most re­cent copy of the file. Check this in Set­tings > Gen­eral > Date & Time.

It is also worth check­ing that you are us­ing the same Ap­ple ID to sign in to iCloud on all your de­vices. If you have regis­tered more than one email ad­dress as an Ap­ple ID then you could have two un­re­lated iCloud

stor­age spa­ces that won’t share data with each other.

Darker clouds

Some­times iCloud can ac­tu­ally sync data too well. Key­chain sync­ing, for ex­am­ple, will dis­trib­ute saved pass­words to ev­ery de­vice signed in with your Ap­ple ID, and this in­cludes Wi-Fi pass­words for net­works you con­nect to. If you use a mo­bile hotspot to pro­vide in­ter­net ac­cess for a lap­top, your iPhone will re­ceive the pass­word to con­nect to the hotspot too. This prob­a­bly isn’t what you want, be­cause your phone will try high­band­width ac­tiv­i­ties like sync­ing pho­tos, even though it is still only con­nected to the in­ter­net via the SIM card in the mo­bile hotspot.

Un­for­tu­nately, you can’t pre­vent iCloud Key­chain sync­ing an in­di­vid­ual pass­word. So to pre­vent this hap­pen­ing, you’ll ei­ther have to turn off your iPhone’s Wi-Fi ev­ery time the mo­bile hotspot is on, or else dis­able key­chain sync­ing on the iPhone (in Set­tings > iCloud).

Even if you don’t think you’ll use iCloud very much, there are some ser­vices that you should al­ways en­able. Find My Mac/iPhone/iPad, for ex­am­ple. This will show your de­vice on a map if it is lost or stolen and lets you re­motely lock it or erase all of its data. But if you buy a sec­ond-hand Mac, iPhone or iPad, the previous owner might still have their Ap­ple ID as­so­ci­ated with this de­vice – even if the de­vice it­self has been re­for­mat­ted or fac­tory re­set. (When buy­ing a sec­ond-hand iOS de­vice, ask the previous owner if they’ve fol­lowed the in­struc­tions at http://ap­ple.co/1fbJkRA.) On a Mac, a previous owner may no­tice one day that an old de­vice is still regis­tered to their Ap­ple ID and lock or erase it with­out re­al­is­ing the im­pli­ca­tions for you. The only sure way to pro­tect your­self from this is to sign in to iCloud and en­able Find My Mac us­ing your own Ap­ple ID. Find My Mac can only be en­abled for one Ap­ple ID at a time, so this will re­move the previous owner’s con­nec­tion to your de­vice.

You can check the ser­vice sta­tus of the var­i­ous ser­vices that fall un­der the iCloud um­brella at http://ap­ple.co/1UHD6Jc. If an app doesn’t ap­pear to be sync­ing its data to iCloud, con­firm in Set­tings > Mo­bile (or Mo­bile Data on iPads with cel­lu­lar con­nec­tiv­ity) that the app isn’t re­stricted to Wi-Fi.

When you buy or sell a sec­ond-hand Ap­ple de­vice, it’s im­per­a­tive that iCloud’s Find My Mac/iPhone/iPad ser­vice is dis­abled. Con­se­quently, this dis­ables Ac­ti­va­tion Lock on iOS de­vices. Fix­ing iTunes li­brary cor­rup­tion caused by iTunes 12.2 means re­set­ting the on­line li­brary.

Blank al­bum art like this can hap­pen when Ap­ple Mu­sic cor­rupts your iTunes li­brary.

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