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.
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.