I want to understand committing to using iCloud given my particular needs, which to date I totally avoid except for "find my mac." Consequences, gotchas, costs - both money and time, an upgrade tread mill trap, etc. E.G. "useful" trumps unicorns and rainbows.

I'm reading questions and much of it is old. That's minute details anyway, I need a bigger picture with relevant detail to make sure I'm not screwing myself in some way.

Cause for Pause

The nuclear option: if I disconnect from iCloud everything iClouded on that device is deleted. That. sounds. bad. Like no backing out, ever?! It seems like any backup recovery puts the computer back to a wired-to-the-cloud state.

Buggy iCloud? When first introducted iCloud was quickly turned off by Apple, people fired, and months of rework preceeded a re-introduction of iCloud. Pervasive glitches in the nooks and crannies due to sheer complexity?

Convoluted processes: Might customizing (or the lack thereof) iCloud doom me to a lifetime of jumping thru hoops thus making the whole thing not worth it?

Vague security and privacy concerns: synching via public WiFi hotspots. iCloud means no air gap (yeah, the "air gap" myth). General iCloud security, "ownership", what Apple does w/ iClouded stuff.

Unforseen show stoppers due to hardware, software, personal-needs differences.

Synergy and benefits I'm simply unaware of.

General mindset: Living fully wired/connected 24/7? I'm just not feeling it. But obviously I would not have made this post if I was absolutely against alien technology; no conspiracy theorist, I.

My Landscape

  1. 2008 iMac that cannot upgrade beyond El Capitan
  2. MPB 2011 on Sierra
  3. iPod on iOS 10.2
  4. MacBook Air 2015 model on Sierra
  5. Keep the iMac beyond mere inconvenience.
  6. I locally backup all my computers. iPod is backed up on iTunes.
  7. Different people
    • MacBook Air, let's call it "ID1"
    • All other devices, collectively call it "ID2"
    • I've read threads about separate AppleIDs. Use a common ID for purchases, separate IDs for all else. But that needs some tweaking; see below
  8. Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) functions.
    • Reliably synch calendar and contacts across all devices
    • ID1, ID2: separate email, browser history/bookmarks
  9. Photos
    • Decades of photos - Is it all or nothing?
    • Sharing and syncing photos behind our household firewall is all I really need; I think.
    • I don't know if I completely grock iCloud implications of "camera roll" vis-a-vis "photo stream". I think of my photo "library" as one thing.
  10. No iPhone
    • iCloud/iOS gotchas because an iPod is not an iPhone. EVERYTHING is iPhone centric now.
    • Don't ask. I'm a kool-aide drinking Apple fan boy since pre-Macintosh yet I choose to no longer have an iPhone. iPhone 6 jump the shark pricing + provider pricing + engineered upgrading + reality check = the total cost of ownership last straw.
  11. Unnecessary $$$ for unnecessary storage
    • I don't need instant iPhoto Photos synching?
    • I backup my computers at home.
  12. iTunes
    • I'm old school. I "own" my music. I don't subscribe to Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, etc.
    • "match my music" doesn't make sense from my perspective. But I'm open to new concepts.
    • iCloud induced creeping storage costs, crippled functionality, other?
  • 1
    I'm struggling to understand what your question actually is. Are you looking for advice on whether to activate iCloud for everything? If so, I've found that it works pretty well (not perfect, but certainly quite good). And if you disable iCloud, you are given the option to keep or delete the previously synced data. – Bob Nov 18 '16 at 1:00
  • you are given the option to keep or delete the previously synced data. OK, that's a very significant issue. But overall, I guess never having seriously looked into iCloud ever since early, common advice: "don't do it!" I'm hesitant, – radarbob Nov 18 '16 at 2:17
  • Yeah, the question is hazy. But I fight a PC at work every day and I sure do not want to fight my macintosh the rest of the day. I'm feeling cautious because of the fail that was iCloud at its beginning. I want to make sure I know what I'm getting into. Foretold is forewarned. – radarbob Nov 18 '16 at 2:24
  1. Back up your devices
  2. Jump in the iCloud pool
  3. See if you like it

Given your landscape, having one set of photos instead of managing them on many devices alone seems worth simplifying things via iCloud. I'm also a big fan of iTunes Match and Apple Music despite having tens of thousands of CD and phonograph recordings digitized.

  • iTunes Match: interesting. What's the point? I have the <s>meats</s> music. Any implications for being tethered to a iCloud connection? storage costs? How about syncing... iTunes FUBARs one's music catalog when managing things manually. The dreaded decade long+ problem of duplicate songs and iTunes penchant for removing or replacing album art gets me apoplectic! So Let's put more software and syncing into that equation and see how much worse it all gets! – radarbob Nov 18 '16 at 14:33
  • I've not had one client have their library messed up that couldn't be easily fixed by restoring from backup. The only people that had nightmares are those that skipped step one. – bmike Nov 18 '16 at 18:03

Another perspective, from someone who's had iCloud since it was .mac

We have 2 Macs, 2 iPhones & an iPad, shared across 2 IDs [myself & my partner]

We set up Family Sharing to cross-pollinate all our purchases, music, books, apps.

We share certain portions of our calendar with each other.
Contacts are not shared between IDs - that you would have to do manually.

Computers all use Time Machine plus Backblaze. iDevices are backed to iCloud every night, & to iTunes before any iOS update.

Photos are all kept locally, not in the cloud (I don't grok that bit either ;)
Music is all kept locally, no Match or Apple Music etc.
That also means no extra subscription charges for iCloud storage etc.

Been perfectly happy this way for years.

Synced calendars to all devices [inc the shard parts to each separate ID]
Simple things like looking somewhere up on the map, then immediately having that data in the phone, on the go.
Bookmarks & passwords synced, so I don't have to remember them all.
It's all completely free, so long as you stay under your 5GB storage limit, which is easy without photos & music.

So, you can go halfway & still get some benefit.

  • I'm getting a much better picture of the possibilities and flexibility. My inference that 3rd party apps are not needed for every "feature" is encouraging. Backblaze I understand. IMO Time Machine is a poor computer backup mechanism. Great for documents though. – radarbob Nov 18 '16 at 13:25

As someone who used iCloud at first, but now uses Dropbox, I say go Dropbox or another third party file sync platform for files (i.e. photos, docs, videos, etc). I still use iCloud (free 5GB) for syncing contacts, calendar, and Apple device settings.

The main reason is an old saying, "Don't put all your eggs in one basket". It's been much easier to share files (especially photos) with non-Apple friends and family. And my wife had an issue where she thought when you deleted a photo/video from your phone that it stayed on iCloud...it didn't and we lost a lot of photos that way. Not blaming iCloud per se, but just not a function.

A third party can also make it a lot easier to transition your data if you ever decide to leave Apple's garden and go play somewhere else.

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