Friday, January 6, 2017 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Bitter iCloud Truth

Daniel Jalkut:

The first thing to do was obviously to take care of those duplicates. Contacts on the Mac features a couple seemingly handy menu items for dealing with this problem: “Look for Duplicates” and “Merge Selected Cards.” I cannot recommend using either of these features.


After painstakingly merging cards in this manner for an hour or so (!), I had stopped paying close attention to whether conflicting data was being persisted well or not. At one point I stumbled upon the realization that I lacked the phone number for a contact whom I had sent an SMS message just within the past week. Other contacts were missing key data, too. An outdated email address here, a missing mailing address there. Whoops! Abort mission! Time to recover from that backup file.


I began to panic. Had I actually lost all of my Contacts data? In spite of dutifully backing up my local data and making a proactive archive from Contacts, the app had a very different idea of what my Contacts “truth” was.

On my Mac, the archive does seem to contain the data from iCloud, but I don’t dare to try restoring from it. It’s not clear to me what I would lose by creating a local vCard export instead of a Contacts Archive.


"It’s not clear to me what I would lose by creating a local vCard export instead of a Contacts Archive."


While I don't use iCloud for this stuff, since I've never trusted iCloud with anything I care about, my main takeaway from Daniel's piece was to do vCard export backups, in addition to the Contacts Archive backups I've been doing every month for years.

(Similarly, I started doing iCal individual calendar backups, in addition to the iCal Archive backups I've been regularly doing. I've never needed to restore from either AB or iCal backups, but if that day ever comes, I'd sure as hell like the restore to actually work. This whole thing may not affect me at all without using iCloud, but it's only trivial extra work once a month, given I'm already doing backups from those 2 apps.)

"It’s not clear to me what I would lose by creating a local vCard export instead of a Contacts Archive."

The only thing I see you'd lose is that unless you export each AB Group as a separate vCard, you'll lose your groupings if you have to restore. Thus my logic of doing both Archive and vCard exports. If Archive doesn't restore properly, at least you'll get all your contacts back from the vCard, even if ungrouped.

@Chucky The vCard does include the names of the groups in it, but you’re probably right that this would be ignored on import. Still, with that info it should be possible to recreate them.

This is a problem over many years. And you may not only loose items you will also get tons of duplicates: phone numbers, email addresses and esp. notes.

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