Backup of iCloud

Is there a way to back iCloud up? Say in dropbox or another service?
Hoe do you go about that
Is it really necessary?

I want to say that all—or at least nearly all—data that you have stored in iCloud is also stored locally on your various devices. It’s not impossible that you could end up with some data only in iCloud (particularly if you turned off local copies of photos for iCloud Photos on all your devices), but in general, your local Time Machine, duplicate, and Internet backups should include all that data.

My problem is that I am running out of space on my 1TB Mac.
So moving to iCloud is not a good strategy? What is?
for example I moved my photos to iCloud Photos (I should have done this long ago). My pictures folder is about 60 GB but now Photos use a similar amount on each of my devices as well as on iCloud)
How do people manage with 128 or 256 GB drives?

See what takes the most space. If you’re like me, it will be media files (music and video). I have moved the old iTunes managed files to a 4TB external hard drive. It did take a little care to do it so that they remained managed. That took me down from from about 2.25 TB on a 3TB Fusion driven on my old iMac to just over 1TB on a 2TB SSD on my new iMac. If I need to do so, unmanaged video and all photos (including the Apple Photos library) would be next. It makes my backup strategy a bit more complex, but, since the external drives do not change much between daily backups, it doesn’t take any more time.

DaisyDisk is a great app for finding things that are taking up space. I use it when I need to clear out and free up some space.

I’m lost
I went to “about this mac” > storage > manage > documents > large files
I have numerous files that I moved to an external disk but show up as ~/icloud drive (Archive) - 1.
Are all these on my hard drive as well? Wgat happens if I delete them? Do I lose the copies on the external drive?

Dropbox with a paid account has a feature that allows choosing “Online Only” or “Local” storage for files.

There are apps that let you use the cloud storage, such as Dropbox, Amazon, Google Drive, etc. as a local drive. Here are a few examples:


I use the following two to store my files on Dropbox.

Mountain Duck

I have numerous files that I moved to an external disk but show up as ~/icloud drive (Archive) - 1.
Are all these on my hard drive as well? Wgat happens if I delete them? Do I lose the copies on the external drive?

If you have been using iCloud Drive and then turn off iCloud Drive, your stuff is removed from iCloud and placed in a local folder you describe ~/iCloud Drive (Archive). So I strongly recommend you do not delete this or any similarly named folders. They were once on your iCloud but are now local only. It is fine to move them to externals or whatever you want to with them now you have removed them from your iCloud Drive.
If you have since put them back on your iCloud Drive then you can delete the local iCloud (Archive) folders, but check carefully.
As Adam says anything in iCloud Drive has a local copy (somewhat hidden in ~/Libary/Mobile Documents) unless you have opted to use the “optimise” feature in which case you may have local signposts to the full size files on iCloud. With optimise turned on your machine may keep signposts only or full size files depending on free space.

If you want a thorough way to compare folders to see if everything is back on iCloud Drive (or identify what’s missing), there’s a great app called Compare & Sync Folders. The interface is a bit busy/complex, but it does a great job. I recommend reading the online manual first to make sure you’re getting the compare you expect and not doing a sync and moving files about.

What iCloud really needs is an API that would enable “power users” to create backup scripts on a NAS for example. I have more stuff in my iCloud account than I can store internally on my Mac Mini. So I have to rely on an external SSD for photos.

I would love to be able to have optimized storage enabled on my Macs and then have my NAS pull backups every few hours/days directly from iCloud. I would even pay extra for that feature.

When I was running out of room on my iMac I realized that my photo library, even when optimized, was taking up a lot of room. I was already using iCloud Photos. I bought an external SSD and moved my photo library to it and then set iCloud Photo to download all photos without optimizing them. I am happier knowing that my full size photos are backed up via BackBlaze and Time Machine.

1 Like

When clients ask for help choosing a new computer, a very important part of our conversation is what kind of data they use — whether they collect music or take a lot of pictures. I’ve only had a couple of clients in recent years where I felt comfortable allowing a 128 GB internal drive, and I always urge larger if possible. Most cloud services are predicated on having reliable fast Internet, and for those of us who live in the boonies this is not usually the case. So iCloud Photos is pretty much out of the question.

There is the option of storing your photo library on an external drive. I can tell you that in the decades since the advent of iPhoto, working with many photographers from enthusiasts to professional and with a wide range of technical sophistication, I’ve never had a single one who could manage that. We always ended up upgrading to a larger internal drive. Which, unfortunately, is pretty much impossible these days.

1 Like