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I signed up for iCloud storage for added security (in case my local computers crash or are stolen), but am finding out iCloud is trying to only keep certain frequently used files also on my Mac (running 10.13.6) and Macbook Pro (running 11.1).

If I lose internet, power goes out, or iCloud gets hacked and everything gets deleted/corrupted, I think the cloud-only documents are vulnerable to loss. My goal is to always have safe and complete versions of the files and no “dehydrated links / stub files for download on demand data on my computers.

  • assume both Macs have more free storage than my iCloud storage quota
  • Assume both are online and internet is fast enough for syncs to happen regularly and efficiently

Is there a way to force iCloud to keep all files at all times current in both my local machines?

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  • I’ve edited in two things that cause even a properly set up Mac to not sync in general. Are you using the second Mac as a form of backup? This should work with optimize storage disabled, but perhaps you already have a sync error?
    – bmike
    Apr 2 at 11:36
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    Thanks for your edits and response. I use both computers from home office and when traveling, and use Time Machine for a local backup. I found that unchecking "Optimize Mac Storage" resolved my concern, and now all files stay current on both computers and in iCloud, which is what I was looking for. Thanks!
    – Bill C
    Apr 2 at 20:02
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First and foremost: iCloud is not a backup service. In order to achieve what you want, you need backups!

You can use various forms of backups to realize your goal: For example you could use the built-in Time Machine software with external USB-drives in order to have a complete backup that you could store at a seperate location. You could also use a cloud service such as Backblaze, SpiderOak or similar.

That being said, you can avoid the Mac removing files from your local disk to free up space by opening up System Preferences, click Apple ID and then remove the check mark from Optimise Mac Storage.

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    @bmike I disagree with the changes of the order you made. It is important to get the backup recommendation on top, as the question is about how to ensure a safe copy of your data in case of hackers and others emergency. This is done by backups.
    – jksoegaard
    Apr 2 at 11:31
  • I was going to message you since it was a big edit, thanks for the roll me back and the @ is greatly appreciated.
    – bmike
    Apr 2 at 11:35
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    No, thank you - it is always good to know that others are actually reading answers here :-)
    – jksoegaard
    Apr 2 at 14:08
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    Thanks all for your comments. I use both computers from home office and when traveling, and use Time Machine for a local backup on an external drive. I found that unchecking "Optimize Mac Storage" resolved my concern, and now all files stay current on both computers and in iCloud, which is what I was looking for. Thanks!
    – Bill C
    Apr 2 at 20:04
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The answer posed by @jksoegaard is correct. I use iCloud to synch "Documents and Desktop" between my Macs, so I have (except as mentioned below) the same appearance and content on the two machines. "Optimize Mac Storage" must, as mentioned, be unchecked.

The exception is any local file marked with the file name suffix .tmp. Those files will not be uploaded to iCloud, and not therefore synched with your other Macs. Time Machine happily backs up .tmp files.

This is useful in my setup, as some (coincidentally, fairly large items) need to appear on my desktop iMac, but don't need to appear on the MacBook Air. Using .tmp reduces iCloud storage use. The storage hogs are synched separately: email by the IMAP server, photos and music using ChronoSync.

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As an alternative to iCloud, I use Resilio Sync to synchronise the Documents folder of my laptop (MacBook Pro) and desktop (Mac Mini). Any file created, deleted or updated on either computer gets that operation copied to the other.

It even works across different networks, so if I'm somewhere else with my laptop, it still syncs to my desktop.

This is in addition to Time Machine backups.

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