Cloud storage is here to stay but I have yet to make the plunge to backup all our devices online. Why? Or, rather, why not? First, we have too many devices and it doesn’t seem practical or affordable.
Second, I’m not fully convinced I want my Macs, iPhone, and iPad to have iCloud as their only form of backup. Third, I’ve tried a bunch of different cloud backup services and they’re all the same. Slow to upload and sync, difficult to restore, somewhat complex to manage, and a bit expensive when the data requirement climbs toward a terabyte of storage.
There’s a new trend in Apple town that has me considering a change.
iCloud Because iCan
iCloud gets a bad rap from time to time, what with outages here and there, slow synchronization, and the highest prices in town, but things have begun to change. iCloud has improved and works better. Apple adjusted prices last year to be a bit more competitive, and this week added a tier that might be what I’m looking for.
iCloud users get 5GB of free storage, but 50GB is a mere 99-cents. That’s actually a good deal for iPhone and iPad users but with one exception. First of all, iCloud is a good backup solution for most iOS settings, especially since applications can be downloaded again on a new or restored device. Second, the pricing ranges from 200GB for $2.99 to 1TB for $9.99, which is more competitive than before, and helps to overcome my biggest objection. iCloud isn’t a good place for hundreds of gigabytes of photos and music and movies.
The latest plan added a 2TB tier at $19.99 a month. Typical Apple. It’s a penny more than dual 1TB storage plans, which indicates Apple doesn’t really want us to backup everything to iCloud, yet that’s exactly what I want. A cloud backup of what’s on my Mac, iPhone, and iPad.
Here’s how I want cloud storage to work.
First up, everything on my Mac gets backed up locally. Every iPhone and iPad also gets backed up regularly on the Mac (which gets backed up) and on iCloud. Restoring an iPhone or iPad from a cloud backup is trivial but takes awhile, hence the local iTunes backup requirement.
Second, I want to backup files from my Mac to iCloud (and I’ve tried other cloud storage options from Google Drive to Microsoft OneDrive to BackBlaze and other commercial options; all are slow to backup a few hundred gigabytes of local data online). That includes Photos, Music from iTunes, Movies from iMovie, plus the standard Documents backup.
That also means that every photo taken with every family iPhone or iPad also uses iCloud to backup photo files. Plus, I want it seamless and in the background. In other words, an online backup of everything valuable, all the time. Apple’s own Airport Time Capsule devices are a good idea but actual practice has been problematic. First, they’re expensive relative to other local storage solutions. Second, sometimes they just don’t work and stop without notification. It’s why I don’t use iCloud email for anything serious or important. Apple doesn’t have a good reputation for dependability.
One solution that has worked well, though it is slow to get started, is Arq, which can backup massive gigabytes of files to Amazon’s various storage plans; all in the background, but incremental after the first backup. While I use SuperDuper! to clone my Mac’s disk drives, I use ChronoSync to keep files synchronized between Macs.
But I still long for a good online backup system.