Thursday, March 28, 2019

iCloud Deletion Bugs

Corbin Dunn (tweet):

I turned off my backup to iCloud and deleted the backups. Well, you can’t delete them! They just would not disappear, and I kept seeing 19+ GB of space consumed[…]


Ironically, when your iCloud storage is full you can’t receive any emails to your @me email address, which is what is associated with my bug reporter account.


I never used iCloud photos, but for some reason I had a lot of photo storage consumed. I turned off my Photo Stream, and this dropped the 8.6 GB that it consumed. I was surprised, because this actually worked!

That’s weird; I thought Photo Stream wasn’t supposed to count towards your storage quota.

But no, I still have too much space consumed, and it was in “Documents and Data”. It looked mainly like Keynote documents were taking up too much space. I moved all my files out of iCloud on my desktop; this actually doesn’t work. You should see the move on one computer and deletes on other computers, but I never would see the files gone on any other systems (iOS or macOS). I had to delete them on each system using iCloud.


3 Comments RSS · Twitter

I had a similar problem that turned into a two-month-plus ordeal with AppleCare. I bought an iMac Pro in November. I set it up clean rather than restore from a backup (as I typically do with a new Mac). The new system defaulted to iCloud Drive being enabled even though I have never used it. After I copied my music to iTunes (200GB of my own ripped CDs) and books to the Books app (~75GB of PDFs and ePubs), unbeknownst to me the iMac Pro started pushing everything to iCloud Drive and maintained two copies of each file — one in either iTunes or Books, and another in an invisible iCloud Drive folder.

The nightmare became acute when I started getting disk full errors on five other devices that iCloud Drive was DISABLED on: three other Macs with smaller SSDs, an iPhone, and an iPad. iCloud Drive was propagating a copy to each device signed in with my Apple ID despite the fact that iCloud Drive was, again, DISABLED on all of them except the iMac Pro. Cutting to the chase, I spoke with nine different senior advisors (because iMac Pro owners automatically get bypassed to the second tier of Apple support) who confirmed what happened and channeled the case up to the engineer level, and literally none of them could understand why the problem occurred or how to solve it. I sent Capture Data at least 10 times.

Even though I disabled iCloud Drive on the iMac Pro as soon as I figured out what was happening, I could not delete the data from iCloud Drive or from the invisible folders (local iCloud Drive storage) on any of my computers. I finally requested that AppleCare reset my iCloud Drive at the server level, and it was a rigmarole of procedures and permissions to make that happen. That reset is what solved my problem after countless hours wasted with unhelpful AppleCare reps. It was a travesty of support for a travesty of a product/service (iCloud Drive) that Apple should be embarrassed about. All this after I paid $8K for a computer.

It's a bad sign for Apple that I, for the first time ever, warned a friend against buying a Mac instead of steering them toward Apple. My advice was based on my growing frustration over the last few years with Apple's mishaps, embarrassing and persistent bugs, QA problems, and downright stupid and terrible hardware design and engineering decisions, culminating in the outrageous iCloud Drive problem I described above. Apple has taken for granted the good graces of loyal, demanding followers for too long. They need to earn back our loyalty with world-class products and services.

Much of this is Apple trying to make things easy for users. It works most of the time. However when something goes wrong there's no technical back door to complexity that lets knowledgeable people fix it. This has long been a problem with iCloud going back to the early days syncing when if anything things were far worse. By trying to hide implementation details Apple simply makes it almost impossible to fix things when something goes wrong. My experience is that things rarely go wrong today compared with say 6 years ago. But the opacity is still a problem.

I much prefer the solution in the naughts which was to hide complexity from regular users (say the ~/Library directory) but allow technical users to access it. The change once iCloud was introduced was not for the better.

I hear you, Clark. I appreciate your comment. You're giving Apple a generous benefit of doubt. Apple has burned me so many times over the last few years that I'm beyond assuming good intentions. I have to judge Apple on the implementation details in shipping products, and this is where they're losing it. I am a seasoned, technical user, and this fiasco paralyzed my work. I cannot figure out the logic of iCloud Drive propagating huge amounts of data to Macs and iOS devices on which iCloud Drive was *never enabled*, and then making it nearly impossible to delete the data from the devices. Neither could nine AppleCare senior advisors and I don't know how many engineers who were supposedly examining Capture Data logs. I had avoided iCloud Drive because I never trusted it in the first place, and stories of its failures abound. It was painfully ironic that my first experience with it confirmed my worst suspicions that it remains a half-baked product. I'm glad it works for some people. For me, iCloud Drive was catastrophic because it rendered my computers unusable and paralyzed my business.

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