Apple reporting of late is even weirder than usual, and broadly appears to take one of three forms:
- Apple is THE BEST and we love EVERYTHING it does
- Apple is THE WORST and we hate EVERYTHING it does
- Apple did something we brushed aside last year as trivial, but it’s fixed now, so we’re going to pretend we were FURIOUS at the time and that this minor change is more innovative than sliced bread, GPS and heart-rate monitors combined. (And, no, Heston, you cannot have that as a new menu item for your restaurants.)
This means we see relentless rumours, pro-Apple and anti-Apple opinions and reviews, but oddly little reporting when things go somewhat wrong for a bunch of people. That sort of thing doesn’t get enough clicks/eyeballs/ad impressions and so falls by the wayside. Hence, I suppose, why I’m writing about a problem here. And that problem is this:
With iOS 9, iCloud back-up is dead for some people.
Yeah, just imagine that as a headline. Your eyes would gloss over it, before settling on IPHONE 7 MIGHT BE MADE FROM BEES and IPHONE 6S LESS BENDY WHICH IS THE MOST AMAZING THING EVER. But this kind of stuff matters, because iCloud is supposed to be Apple’s future for storage, and robust enough to protect all of your data and memories.
I have three iOS devices. The second they were updated to iOS 9, iCloud stopped working. I’m sure some journo colleagues will merrily claim this is down to some tech halo of doom or other, given how often things appear to go wrong for me during updates; but this is no laughing matter, because iCloud back-up is critical. More to the point, a quick search online finds plenty of forum threads about this issue, including on some major Apple websites that have yet to report on the matter. (There are, pleasingly, exceptions.)
What actually happens varies somewhat by user, but mostly you’ll find the Storage section in Settings helpfully noting that you’ve ‘never’ backed-up, when you have. Your device’s next back-up size will be listed at a suspiciously low 0 bytes, with each app beneath listing ‘no data’. On attempting to make a back-up, it will crank on for a while, get towards the end and not complete. If Apple’s servers and software are feeling particularly mischievous, your iCloud storage will drop like a stone, even though none of the back-ups have taken. (At one point, my 50 GB of space was down to about 15 GB free, despite me, according to iOS 9, having no actual back-ups.)
People posting on forums have been offering solutions. Turning iCloud off and on again. Resetting network settings. Deleting the back-ups you have, and then attempting to back-up manually until it actually works. According to people posting on Apple’s forums, Apple support naturally notes it’s the “first we’ve heard of this” whenever people call, and depressingly goes to the old fallbacks for seemingly any iOS-related problem these days: either restore your device from a back-up (assuming you can make one—some users under iOS 9 are even having problems with iTunes), or set up your device as new.
The second of those is especially troubling. Setting up a device as new means you don’t have access to your old data. In my case, that would mean losing progress from all games, hundreds of hours of work in the likes of Korg Gadget, and more. Data loss is not an acceptable solution for what appears to be a nasty iCloud bug that Apple has yet to acknowledge. (And Apple helpfully blocked sideloading in May, which would have been a way to restore important data manually.) More to the point, people on Apple’s forums claim they’ve done these things and it makes no difference anyway.
From what I can see, the only solution to this is to wait and hope things will start working again (and, if you can, remember to make regular iTunes back-ups, like you’re living in the Stone Age). That’s some way from ‘it just works’. Perhaps if more publications would make a noise about this, there’d be more hope and less waiting. As it is, I have to wonder if a lot of people will just give up backing-up altogether, putting their data at risk, and leading to misery down the line when a device abruptly stops working.