Sure, iCloud backups are convenient, but they aren’t everlasting as one Google employee learned the hard way.
The plight of a Google employee serves as a fine reminder to the age-old adage: “Do not use iCloud as your primary backup service.” Erin Sparling lost years of drawings and other data because of Apple’s policy for deleting old iCloud backups.
Sparling, on Twitter, said he backed up his iPad to iCloud and erased it late in 2020, so that a family member could use this iPad for teaching. He then bought a new iPad more than six months later and tried to restore the iCloud backup.
This is when he realized that his iCloud backup was gone and that there was no way for him to regain access to years of data that wasn’t saved anywhere else. So, why did this happen?
Why Do iCloud Backups Vanish?
It’s because Apple’s policy is to delete unused iCloud backups 180 days after you disable these backups or stop using them. It’s mentioned in passing on an Apple support page, under the header “Delete backups and turn off iCloud Backup for your device.”
There’s nothing wrong with this policy exactly, because abandoned or unused data can’t be stored forever. It adds to server costs and is probably bad for the environment too. However, Apple’s big mistake, in this case, is that it fails to warn people that their backups are about to be automatically deleted.
An email reminder, asking people to restore the backup on a new device before it’s deleted, would help a lot of people avoid unnecessary data loss.
When you disable iCloud backups, it would be nice if Apple explicitly warned you about the day your backups would be automatically deleted.
What Could Apple Do to Fix It?
It wouldn’t be the worst idea for Apple to allow people the option to store these backups for longer in exchange for a small fee. The problem, as Sparling pointed out on Twitter, is that “Apple’s version of abandoned data is not mine.”
From a giant corporation’s point of view, it’s a reasonable policy to delete unused data automatically. However, people are not numbers. The loss of a few gigabytes of data could be devastating for some people, even if it’s not a big enough problem for Apple to pay attention to.
Double Backups Are the Way Forward
Until Apple decides to fix this issue, you should treat iCloud like an additional backup service, and not the only one that you use. You can easily back up your iPhone or iPad to your computer, alongside making iCloud backups.
Struggling to keep your iCloud account trim? Don’t pay for an upgrade just yet! Try these tips on how to manage your free iCloud storage instead.
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