There are many cloud services around for end users. For the Apple users, iCloud comes built in. It is also the primary vehicle used to sync between devices, such as from iPhone to Mac, from Mac to iPad, etc. iCloud is part of the Apple ecology that links and holds everything together.
This may work well for most end users. However, power users may not be satisfied. Why?
It is pricy
ICloud comes with 5gb free. This is so minimal with today’s usage. By comparison, Google gives 15gb to each account for free. Additional costs for higher storage needs are the same between Apple and Google.
I am currently using 2T iCloud storage. I am ‘forced’ to choose this plan as I have more than 200gb of photos stored in iCloud. In Australia, the 200gb plan is $4.49, but the 2Tb plan is $14.99 and there is nothing in between.
it is unreliable
Apart from cost, the key issue driving me away from using iCloud is that it is not reliable at all. I have 2 Mac Mini, 1 MacBook pro, 2 iPad and 1 iPhone. My apps rely on iCloud to sync properly. I tried to use Apple Notes as my prime notes app. The app itself is not bad, but they all show a different number of notes on different devices. Every time I check iCloud status. Although Apple always indicate that it is working normally, my Apple Notes collections just would not synchronised to be the same for all devices.
it lacks features
Unlike Dropbox, there are several key features that power users would love, but iCloud is not offering.
- versioning – iCloud does not save difference version of the same document on the cloud. You cannot revert to the previous version if someone undesirable happens.
- no incremental file syncing. Dropbox supports block-level syncing. Rather than copying the entire file each time, I will upload only the parts that have changed. This makes it easier and faster to change large files.
- hard to share files with other users, especially if they are on different operating system – File sharing is one of the best features of Dropbox. The app or browser interface makes it so easy to share files with others. I tried to do that from iCloud and it was a nightmare.
- Dropbox has smart sync – Dropbox lets you control which files or folders are sync to your device or stay in the cloud.
- Dropbox can transfer read on file – Dropbox also offers “Dropbox transfer,” a service to send read-only versions of files up to 2GB in size for free users or up to 100GB for paid users.
my forward plan
It is hard to stop using iCloud altogether. However, I have a plan to progressively reduced the use of it.
First step is to remove my photo collections from iCloud. By default, photos taken from my iPhone are automatically backup to iCloud. I now have around 22,000 photos and videos on it. This takes up around 220gb of space. I now have installed photosync and start backing up the photos to my Synology NAS. In turn, the photos are also backup to Backblaze B2 cloud.
While I love Apple Notes as an app, I need to find an alternative, such as Bear Notes. I used Bear previously, but it requires a premium plan to sync across devices. However, it is elegant, it even supports markdown format. I shall keep looking for the substitute.
Last, but not the least. I am determined to keep the iCloud usage to below 200gb. I am removing a lot of large files and devices backup, including the iPhone backups. This has eliminated around 100gb. I now only used up 320gb.
Once I remove my photos , that would reduce another 180gb. This will leave only 140gb left
For backup, I shall continue to use my Synology NAS and other cloud services such as Backblaze B2. With this setup, I have a lot more control of when, what and how I backup. I have now even turned off time machines on all Mac.
I welcome all readers to share their experience on iCloud and feedbacks on other apps.