Friday, February 6, 2015

There’s No iOS Backup Feature

John Gordon:

There’s no iOS backup feature.

Yeah, I hear your scoff, but iCloud Backup is not Backup. It’s a system clone. If you delete Contacts accidentally, you can’t readily restore Contacts of, say, 3 days before. When my sister accidentally deleted most of her contacts she had no way to restore them from iCloud.

If she’d been synchronizing with iTunes she could have used a remarkably complicated hack: Recovering iCloud contacts, calendars, and bookmarks from an iTunes backup of an iOS device. Honestly, Apple, that’s just embarrassing.

2 Comments RSS · Twitter

Thank you! This is such a big issue with all-iOS workflows that I am very surprised nobody has really raised it until now. A lot of prominent proponents of the iPad-as-a-computer system appear either to make do without any kind of genuine backup or to rely on a semi-secret Mac mini server tucked somewhere — in which case their workflow is hardly as simple as they make it out to be.

Backup's the wrong solution to the problem; a kludge upon a kludge (storing documents as discrete files) upon a sixty-year old kludge (disk drives as secondary memory) that was only a workaround for the hardware limitations of the time (main memory, i.e. RAM, being too expensive and volatile to permanently hold all of the user's data at once).

What's needed is ubiquitous revision tracking and synchronization of user data. All changes should be recorded locally and replicated across the user's cloud as appropriate. True, it's a non-trivial problem to solve, and doubly so for entities like Apple whose commercial interests require top-down control and user lock-in just when the reverse is required. But computer nerds pretending this problem doesn't already exist and therefore doesn't need addressed "because backup's good enough" are just burying their heads in sand while users' expanding electronic lives become ever more of a fragile disjointed misery.

Perhaps when memristor-based memory becomes ubiquitious we'll finally break the back of all this unmanageable silo crap, and our data will finally just live and move wherever it needs to be without having to scrunch through obnoxiously tollbridged straws every time. Hey, one can dream...

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