macOS 14.4 bug deletes old versions of iCloud Drive files that are evicted locally

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While this certainly isn’t a good thing, I have a hard time seeing it as a serious bug. How many people rely on versions in files on iCloud Drive that are evicted? Heck, how many people even know versions are a thing?


It’s probably more of an issue in an enterprise environment where local storage devices tend to be kept small, though the number of enterprises that use iCloud Drive instead of OneDrive or Google Drive must be a tiny minority.

I agree that most people probably have no idea about the versions feature. Nonetheless, I do think that if a documented feature has a bug that results in data loss, it’s a serious problem, even if few people feel the impact.

I think Howard’s main gripe is that iCloud drive is already poorly documented. Now add to this that Apple refuses to write reasonable release notes so nobody knows if this is a 14.4 bug or “intended behavior”. It’s this unnecessary vagueness that makes this a problem, not the raw number of people using it.

Me personally, I’d always prefer larger internal storage than relying on some kind of cloud sync. I bet though in the corporate world the latter is way more common. And with Apple’s stubborn insistence on 256 GB base models (considering this is expensive quality hardware we’re talking about) it’s not really a surprise.


I agree. I definitely prefer more internal storage on my machines.

Regarding enterprise use, I think that most organizations want end users to use cloud storage over local storage as much as possible for support reasons, especially with laptops and mobile devices. Obviously, small drives encourage cloud storage.

The main drivers are predictable backups and minimizing disruption if a device is inaccessible due to theft or repair. The latter is particularly important now that storage devices increasingly are soldered onto motherboards and can’t be swapped into new machines. In an enterprise environment, you just want to hand a user a new machine and have them immediately productive, thanks to their files being immediately accessible in the cloud. We definitely push the message that if a file isn’t in one of the folders that are synced to the cloud, do not expect I.T. to recover it.

In my day job as a head of IT in the life sciences and biotech space, I’m honestly quite surprised at how little end user pushback I see against small drives. Most users (even the ones fresh from academia) seem content with them.

I can see the need for cloud storage in the corporate environment. At work I’m frequently forced to switch physical locations and need the same access to files and software no matter where I am. In that setting, I understand not being concerned about limited storage on a corporate device.

I never mix work and personal computing, however, which I always keep on separate devices.

For personal computing, although I use the cloud as one part of my backup strategy, I prefer my files to all be locally available, which is an increasingly expensive proposition with Apple’s move to all-soldered-on storage (and their–IMO–excessive charge for increased storage a reason I always have to think hard about whether it’s worth staying with macOS or not. Not, of course, that Apple would care.)

So my response as an end-user would differ based on whether it’s a company device or a personal one.

I’m curious: Do you think your users don’t care about limited storage because it’s a corporate device or just in general are content trusting the could?


Edited for punctuation and spelling.

I agree that more internal storage is better, but my wife and I share a 2017 MacBook Air with only 128 GB storage that we use around the house or on occasional trips, which leaves us with minimal ICloud memory on that machine. This reminds me that I really don’t understand how “optimizing” iCloud storage works or what its risks are. My point is that the way Apple handles things like iCloud makes it too easy to get into a risky situation.

I suspect that there is some bug in iCloud too. Or maybe the bug is there. Have lost work on iCloud as I was drawing on the iPad. My drawings on a .png-file just disapeared, all of it. Starting to use Onedrive from now.

This was my thought. I rarely remember it and I know how journaling works. Sounds like the next “Do you use it” poll was just found.

From a design standpoint, I wonder what the expected behavior is? I can see Apple not wanting versions to go away if macOS automatically removes a document from local storage to free up space, because that was not action a user took.

The way revisions work in general is not syncing across iCloud, they are device specific to begin with. In my mind this is a design flaw in some ways. If you have a feature on macOS that provides redundany/backup (revisions) and you have cloud storage which fulfills a complimentary need in redundancy/backup, it’s strange that they don’t work well together.

I’ve never read anything outlining the details of the iCloud system or if it’s ever been revealed/researched, would be interesting to know how dis-similar it is from macOS filesystems etc. I do know that as a developer when enabling iCloud syncing for apps using CoreData, there are additional contraints/restrictions placed on the actual data which can be annoyances. Probably not directly related to file storage, but again, makes me curious.

The problem is that macOS does versioning on a per volume basis. So if you evict to iCloud you lose it.

What I don’t understand is why Apple doesn’t just change the behavior based on people’s iCloud preference. If you don’t have optimize storage turned on everything stays the way it is (.Document-Revisions-V100 and all). But if somebody chooses to turn on optimize storage, couldn’t macOS just upload version history to iCloud and continue updating it there? Even if the user were to turn it off again, just as evicted documents can be re-downloaded, in principle the same could be done for versioning. I don’t know, perhaps it’s Apple’s concern that this would create too much iCloud sync traffic.

No technical reason why not. It appears that OneDrive for Business (which is based on SharePoint) does this (at least via the Windows client). You can log in to your drive’s web page and pull the entire revision history from there.

I know they are a thing and find them very useful at times. But as you imply in the first sentence, I had already assumed they would be obliterated if I were to evict them from iCloud Drive. In general I assume/expect iCloud to lose metadata (like resource forks and labels) which is one reason why I keep everything stored locally (even if they are also in iCloud).

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I didn’t know versions were a “thing” in apps or iCloud, but when I have been creating them manually by putting numbers in file names and incrementing them. It lets me keep track of changes and recover things from earlier versions that I might need. I’m sure the publishers I work with have their own systems. In any case, the key to making versions working is to know how the software processes and stores them.

Versatility is a new, drag-and-drop utility that archives/unarchives versions, which otherwise would be lost when a file moved to a new volume, such as iCloud Drive:

It essentially automates what can already be done with Revisionist.

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