Monday, May 20, 2019

Beware iCloud Video Syncing

Tyler Hall (tweet):

Get home, back on WiFi, start uploading everything to iCloud and Google Photos. After an hour or two everything’s synced.

Problem: All videos, of any length, stutter, stall, and skip frames in both (macOS) and Google Photos on every Mac I try.


This is a core competency of iOS that should never, ever fucking break for any reason. Apple markets iPhone’s camera as a top selling point – if not THE selling point.

Lucky for me, I’m tech savvy enough to know about Image buried inside macOS’s Utilities folder. So I give it one last try using that to transfer the corrupted videos manually off my phone and into and Google Photos.

It works. My memories are safe.

Wow, I guess I need to check all our family videos now. It’s possible I’ve been backing up damaged versions, and the good copies would be lost if I pruned our iCloud Photo Library to save space. Hopefully they weren’t already lost when my wife upgraded her iPhone last year. This is not the sort of thing that can be recovered from a backup because iOS cloud backups don’t include the contents of the Photos library if you’re using cloud syncing.


Update (2019-07-08): Tyler Hall:

That’s right. I dragged photos from Finder into an empty album in and watched as they were imported and then subsequently deleted.

I did this five times with the same result before I finally thought to record the whole fiasco for posterity. No matter whether I dragged from Finder or used the “Import…” menu item - same thing.

4 Comments RSS · Twitter

Sometimes I’m glad my rural internet speeds preclude the use of cloud services.

Martin Wierschin

That sounds really bad. If there's a failure, then that's okay. The process should fail and alert the user, no big deal. But pretending to succeed and silently corrupting data is inexcusable.

I've also had trouble with iCloud sync, but (only?) with photos shot using panorama mode. I should say that I don't use "iCloud Photos" (née Photo Library), I only use "My Photo Stream". In any case, often my panoramic photos don't sync to my Mac after my iPhone returns home and connects to WiFi. For example, in looking at photos from a hike last weekend (2 days ago) I see only 1 of 6 panoramic photos on my Mac. I think my normal (non-panoramic) photos are all there? I'll just have to look through for discrepancies and manually transfer any missing images.

These kinds of problems are the worst, since you feel you can longer trust anything. It's super nice and convenient when things "just work", but nothing is perfect. iCloud needs to be better about communicating errors and abnormalities to the user. It's currently too opaque and difficult to troubleshoot.

In the early days of iCloud, I had corrupted iCloud Backup that my whole iPhone could not be restored, luckily I had always had backup using iTunes. So I was able to restore 98% of what I had. For a few years I refused to use iCloud, until things settled. I thought , and I assume it was good enough.

And now this.

A lot of the recent Apple felt like betrayal, the belief that quality matters.

Has anyone else experienced this bug, or found out whether it's been resolved? I recently saw a video on a family member's iCloud Photo Stream that looked like it might have been affected by this issue—stuttering/jerky video. I haven't seen mention of this elsewhere, but I'm cautious about updating.

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