Archive for October 27, 2023

Friday, October 27, 2023

iCloud Drive Switches to Dataless Files

Howard Oakley:

In the recent past, when a file has been evicted to iCloud (its download being removed from local storage), it has been represented by a placeholder or stub file in its original folder on the Mac. Taking the file named MyDocument.extn as an example, in the more distant past it might have been represented by a stub file named .MyDocument.extn-tef.icloud, but more recently that would have been named .MyDocument.extn.icloud, and was typically less than 200 bytes in size.

Stub files retained all their original extended attributes, including any Resource fork, and when their data was downloaded from iCloud they were reconstituted into their original files, original names, extended attributes and all.


I was surprised to discover that upgrading to Sonoma has brought radical change to iCloud Drive, specifically in the way that it handles evicted files in local storage. […] There are no stub files to be seen, and the only indication that these files are evicted and not stored locally is in their Status: evicted files are shown as NotDownloaded, while those stored locally are Current.


I suspect these new evicted files take advantage of a trick in APFS: as far as I can tell, they consist of the file with its attributes and extended attributes intact and stored locally, but no extents for its data. Thus, when you ask for the file size, it returns the size it would be when downloaded, although the file only takes the space required for its attributes and extended attributes, until it has been downloaded. As Apple promised, these are dataless files.

Michael Bach:

Interestingly, in Sonoma the path to Trash has also changed. It is now $HOME/Library/Mobile\ Documents/.Trash and used to be $HOME/Library/Mobile\ com\~apple\~CloudDocs/.Trash (or so).


Amazon Drive Is Shutting Down

Chris Welch (in 2022):

The company says Amazon Drive will no longer be supported as of December 31st, 2023. That’s when access will be completely cut off. Uploads are going away earlier and won’t be accepted as of January 31st. The Amazon Drive apps for Android and iOS will be taken down on October 31st, 2022.

“We will continue to provide customers the ability to safely back up, share, and organize photos and videos with Amazon Photos,” Amazon said in an email to customers. But for all files that aren’t images or videos, you’ll have to download them.

Stefan Reitshamer (Reddit):

Amazon is sending out emails to Amazon Drive customers stating “Starting November 16, 2023, you will no longer be able to back up your files to Amazon Drive using Arq. Additionally, Amazon Drive will not be accessible after December 31, 2023.” Actually they’ve been emailing Amazon Drive customers for many months now warning of this.


Improper App Store Contact With Developers

Wayne Ma:

Apple fired at least five employees who worked in the company’s App Store in China following an internal probe into business misconduct, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation.

Juli Clover:

App Store employees with review and editorial roles are not supposed to meet with developers, but an internal audit raised suspicions about half a dozen workers, leading to an investigation. Apple found that the employees had accepted free meals and nightclub outings from developers and consultants that operate businesses claiming they can get games featured in the App Store.

The employees involved did not approve apps and would not have been able to get apps added to the App Store or removed from the App Store, but they did have the power to feature App Store apps to get them more views.

There’s probably a lot more of this going on, and with larger bribes, but it’s hard to detect.

Bitten by the Black Box of iCloud

Dan Moren:

While I was nominally able to log back into iCloud, most of my data wasn’t actually syncing back. A dialog box told me that I needed to verify my account in order to re-establish end-to-end encryption for sensitive information like my keychain and health data, but clicking the prompted button did…absolutely nothing.


Other services, like Find My, were totally dead, refusing to show me any information. Even third-party apps that rely on iCloud to provide syncing—Ivory, for instance—had issues. Attempts to log in to via multiple browsers and devices all came back with a connection error.


Now, in my initial forays on social media, I had gotten a reply from someone on Mastodon mentioning that Apple’s iCloud servers were sometimes put in maintenance mode for 12 hours—but upon going back and looking for that specific reply, it was nowhere to be found. […] There was, according to this support agent, nothing to do but sit back and wait, then call back if service hadn’t returned by the 12-hour mark and reference my case number.


Overall, the experience was confusing and irritating. If this was a server maintenance, upgrade, or migration situation, why not simply tell me? Would it shatter the illusion of iCloud as a monolith of silently functional services? (Breaking news: that illusion was thoroughly punctured anyway.)

Bugs and outages happen, but trust is a lot harder if there’s no transparency. If there’s scheduled maintenance that will cause a service disruption, a good provider will even notify you in advance. Moren’s iCloud service did come back at the end of the secret maintenance window, but he lost a folder in iCloud Drive and had problems with reminders syncing.