I use both Dropbox and iCloud and I keep some files on both cloud services. Generally, Dropbox reliability is higher, and syncing files is faster, but not by much. Dropbox will fail, too.
Here’s the deal. Everything fails. Politicians. Health. Especially complex systems. Humans experience more chaos now because the planet has become a complicated place to live and our ability to handle such complexity has not yet matched what we face every day.
Storing files on iCloud may seem a simple drag and drop operation, but the overall complexity of making it happen and keeping it happen is enormously complex. What we know of the cloud may seem basic. Servers with chips and storage devices, whether hard disk drives or SSDs, routers, network configurations, software, applications, and, well, see? It’s complicated.
Knowing that everything fails should alert us to the need to take precautions to protect our files and data. For example, let’s say you have a Mac notebook and you store all your files on the Mac’s SSD. All. Your. Files. No backup, no iCloud or Dropbox. Just the Mac.
That scenario may be the most common. Sure, today’s SSDs are durable but not infallible. They will fail. So, imagine this scenario. You start up your Mac but it doesn’t start. A trip to the Apple Store Genius Plaza or Garden (I don’t know what they call it now) reveals your fear. Your Mac is dead. All your files are gone. No music, no movies, no photos, no email, nothing. It’s gone.
What will you do?
Cry, kick yourself, lament the stupidity of not having a clone backup or Time Machine or iCloud or, well, something; anything. The only way to avoid that scenario is to rely on backups. Yes, those will fail, too.
That is why it’s important to have more than one and to avoid what smart administrators avoid– a single point of failure.
I back up critical files all over God’s digital earth. iCloud, Dropbox, Amazon S3, multiple Macs, multiple hard disk drives, even iPhone and iPad.
I don’t trust any device. I don’t trust iCloud. I don’t trust backups. Each of them will fail, though it is less likely they all will fail at the same time, so I’m changing the odds of my bet.
Over the past year, I’ve seen systems from Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and various online retailers, banks, and services go down or offline. I recognize that things happen, that systems fail, that we cannot control the unexpected.
Grandma Miller often said, “Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.”
I hope none of my devices fail because it’s a pain in the patootie to replace or fix anything, but I plan for the worst because I don’t want to lose valuable files.
If you don’t use iCloud or clone or backup your Mac, then simply think about what will happen to all your files, email, messages, photos, movies, music, and work files when it dies. Then multiply that fear to iPhone and iPad.