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I have found myself needing to upgrade to the largest iCloud storage space to hold my Photos library, and now have plenty of space. Apparently I cannot mirror my iTunes music library on the plan I have, and now it appears that I cannot use Time Machine natively with it either which would be nice as I do not use my Time Capsule at the moment. I simply do not understand why Apple has not made this a business case for their large iCloud plan.

I've decided I'd like a Time Machine backup on iCloud and work reasonably well. I do not need the "restore on blank hardware" functionalty, just an hourly backup. Just putting a sparse image on iCloud and telling Time Machine to use that, will most likely result in a copy locally which I do not have room for on my local drive.

Is there a way that I can use iCloud for Time Machine in a reasonable way so my lone Macbook gets backed up like with Time Capsule?

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iCloud is not a backup solution, it is a sync solution.
It will hold phone/pad backups, but not computer.

You cannot use it to store data that is not also present on your devices, other than such as offloading full-resolution photos or documents in low-space situations locally.

For true off-site backup you need to be looking at such as Backblaze.

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  • I do not see why it can hold one type of backup but not another, (which is why I think Apple is missing out on a business opportunity here). I know there are other solutions, but I'd like one that Apple endorses natively. Oct 4 '20 at 11:05
  • The problem with iCloud is people lock themselves out of it. Backup exists so you don’t lose everything when that happens. Having your live data in iCloud and your backup elsewhere seems a very solid foundation to me @ThorbjørnRavnAndersen
    – bmike
    Oct 4 '20 at 12:10
  • @bmike I have other Time Machine backups which are updated on an irregular basis. This one is for convenience, not disaster recovery. Oct 4 '20 at 12:19
  • I understand your very legitimate need / intention, just pointing out my best summary of why Apple killed iTools backup app to iDisk in the past. They likely looked at all the positives and looked also at the general experience when it worked and whatever volume of bad support experiences piled up.
    – bmike
    Oct 4 '20 at 12:34
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The answer to your question is No.

There have been various attempts. I seem to remember a company which attempted to offer this several years ago as a commercial product (not even to iCloud, but Time Machine to "the cloud"), but I believe they discontinued it, and it was never particularly well-regarded in practice.

There have been lots of people who have suggested it, there have been lots of people who have said that it seems like something Apple should definitely do, but there is no way to do it at this point in time.

I believe that Arq can backup to your Time Capsule and can do hourly backups. It's not Time Machine, but it is, I believe, the next best thing.

I have found Arq much nicer to work with, and the developer actually responds to emails, which is more than you'd get with using Time Machine.

For history buffs, Apple offered a Backup app with a red umbrella icon at the turn of the century to back up select Mac files to iDisk for paid subscribers. The iDisk feature was first delivered on MacOS 9 (and people figured mods to get it to work partially on 8 and 7) and Apple clearly dropped this product over time after seeing how it worked and how supporting customers using it turned out.

a portion of Apple .Mac web page - featured apps

iTools became .Mac which became MobileMe which became iCloud and here we are with Apple positioning Time Machine destinations away from local servers even. Over time, Mac backups have been transitioning away from Apple online services and towards direct attached storage.

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  • Forgive the large edit, please cut mercilessly or change my words to suit your thinking. I support everything you say about Arq so I tagged my two cents on the tail of your excellent post. I’m happy to post a new answer if that suits you better TJ
    – bmike
    Oct 4 '20 at 12:30
  • It looks to me as if Apple will converge iPads and Macs (which makes perfect sense), or rather that Macs will turn into iPad Pro's. After Steve Jobs died it seems like Macs have been degraded to those machines Apple sell as iOS development machines which incidentially can also run other things. Oct 4 '20 at 12:32
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    @bmike I think it's a good addition, so I'm happy to have it added on!
    – TJ Luoma
    Oct 5 '20 at 2:28

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