Cloud sync, cloud storage, cloud backup - know the difference

Your data’s safe in the cloud … until it isn’t.

The cause of this problem is as yet unknown. Google’s working on it. Bleeping Computer advises that

… Google Drive users should refrain from changing their cloud storage as it might complicate the recovery process. Instead, your best bet would be to contact Google Support, open a new case, and monitor for official updates.

Until the problem is resolved, it would be more prudent to backup important files locally or use a different cloud service.

Which brings me to the difference between sync and backup.

Cloud sync is handy for making files accessible from different devices, but it’s not a ‘backup’, although some vendors like to call it that. For more details, see


Google seems to have discovered the cause of the missing data:

Google further tells users to avoid disconnecting their Google account from the Drive for desktop app and that they should not delete or move data from the “DriveFS” folder on their machines, located under AppData\Local\Google\DriveFS on Windows and Library/Application Support/Google/DriveFS on macOS. Google does recommend making a copy of this folder, though, if there is enough space on the system.


Always make sure you backup your backup.


Be careful about that. If your backup is bad, then your backup of the backup will be bad too.

And I have experienced the downside of cloud sync. Accidentally delete something from one device, and that delete will propagate across all the others.


Exactly. Everything syncs, including mistakes. :laughing:


Its a problem. I am on the brink of unsubscribing from Apple’s iCloud+. Its relatively cheap for my needs but its failing on some levels. I’ll go back to regular backups using Carbon Copy Cloner. Features | Carbon Copy Cloner | Bombich Software

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Sue, I’m curious. Is there a reason you rely on CCC rather than Time Machine ?

Incidentally, I recently discovered that Notes and Reminders are not easily ( perhaps not at all ? ) recoverable from TM backups ( nor from CCC ones ). Apple expects you to have them backed up in iCloud. Thus, I am using iCloud just for the backups of those two MacOS apps.


Perhaps the intention was “also routinely keep/capture an independent backup of the source of truth”.

Personally I take a machine image every few months even though the majority of my user data is cloud synched. I keep at least 3 images on a rotating basis plus extras at certain milestones such as swapping to a new machine.

Yes. Time Machine backups are handy (and I have been known to use them) but CCC does a more complete job… and will recover your notes and reminders. If I am only doing a backup of the main drive (I’m usually doing backups of other drives too) then I prefer SuperDuper which seems to be faster than CCC. Been using it fr a long time and it saved my bacon when the drive in my iMac died… the backup became the boot drive and I was able to carry on as if everything was normal. Then when I had time I got the local repairer (long time before Apple Stores and “Geniuses” and SSDs) to replace the drive and when I got it home, I used Superduper to “clone” the external drive to the new internal. I don’t think TM does an exact clone. CCC and Superduper do, even down to the recovery drive.


[edit] Also I won’t be upgrading CCC again, it gets too expensive. Superduper is a single purchase which seems to last forever. I’ve been using it since Tiger. And yes, you’re right about notes and reminders… icloud backup. But I’m pretty sure my last superduper also backed them up… I’ll need to check on that, not that it matters, because icloud works for me.

Thanks Sue. I don’t think I was very clear in my previous message. I was a longtime user of Superduper in the past, but I had to switch to CCC when an update to MacOS stopped the ability of SD to make bootable clones of the system drive. They may have since updated SD, but at the time this was a dealbreaker for me.
You’re correct in that TM does not make a clone.

Both TM and CCC can backup the files that contain the data of both Notes and Reminders, but that data is not selectively restorable ( because it is not possible for an end-user to identify which files contain which exact data ). What I mean is that one cannot restore, for example, just the Notes data on its own. Instead one needs to roll back the entire system drive to an earlier point in time.
As with any backup, it’s only as good as the ability to restore from it, and I found out the hard way that:

  1. my SD ‘bootable’ backups suddenly weren’t bootable any more
  2. Notes are not selectively restorable from TM ( nor CCC )

Thats right, If you want selectively restorable, TM is the only game in town (I think!) but for complete clones which can be booted its CCC or SD (which is compatible up to Sonoma). Its still in active development as is CCC, and if you need an older version for an older MacOS, you can have that also, back to Panther.

Addit: I don’t use reminders… But notes has always automatically synced with icloud. I don’t think I had to choose to do it ?

Yep. Notes and Reminders automatically sync with iCloud. As I don’t have any other use for iCloud, I decided to turn it off completely. It was then that I discovered that I needed to turn it back on, just to be able to retrieve lost Notes.

Ooooh. Why would you turn it off… not like you have to pay for it… I also use it for storing stuff that has a database although gradually, that is becoming more rare, as companies create their own storage, which really annoys me.

I prefer to store and locate my backups myself, which comprise local and unconnected offsite media. I use online storage when I need to share something with others, but avoid it for backups. That’s a personal preference, and I realise it would not suit everyone.


Our choices are limited, due mostly to the lack of poor upload speeds on the not so fast FW NBN. I use the cloud to keep synced backups of our mobiles in addition to a local backup. The cloud offers the convenience of recovery if the mobile dies, gets broken or lost. Once set up, it’s incremental and is not too great an impost. There is a reliance on IOS and the built in feature to perform and recovery reliably.

The Core Image from mine was created in store using Apple’s wifi service. Accessible when I replaced my no longer support older model iPhone earlier this year. Note, 10+GB of data can take a longtime at the 2-5Mbps typical of the NBN. That first cloud backup is always the more challenging. As an aside I can vouch for durability. Two iPhones have given me more than 11 years between them, with the original batteries! Assume it is similar for the better branded Android alternatives, and the reliability of their synced cloud backup tool.

I subscribed to Microsofts free One Drive cloud sync as I was under the impression that they offer 1TB free storage for MS 365 Premium users. However, they wouldn’t even allow all my 150GB pics and videos to upload. Consequently I wanted to get rid of it but only had limited success to disable One Drive all together. That’s my 2-bob worth re cloud services but maybe my age of 79 has something to do with it? :roll_eyes:

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The Premium users do get 1 TB of storage as long as they maintain their licence (usually a year long one but can be paid by the month). If OneDrive setup is done with the wanted folders in the OneDrive sync choices (it typically selects all the libraries including Pictures, Documents, Videos, Downloads), it will move the data in the PC folders into the cloud storage (you can make any of these files to be also stored on your PC). So if a file is deleted it is deleted in the Cloud and therefore from your available files. Sync is more about making your files available to any device you may connect to the OneDrive system or to share easily with those you choose to. If you decide to copy files yourself to OneDrive storage see the following link for information. Limit of individual file size for this process is 250 GB, this is not the limit for total amount of files which of course is 1TB.

They recommend the sync process, but if you desire never to lose access then using the linked process will be the better option.

OneDrive is pretty much a standard install to Windows 11, it is easy enough to remove through “Settings” “Apps” “Installed Apps” and then choosing to uninstall the “Microsoft OneDrive” using the 3 dot menu of the right hand side of that entry. Windows 10 looks a little different. There is a link that may help anyone try to stop/disable OneDrive or remove it from a PC. Please note that OneDrive entry in the Apps menu may be differently named depending on the version of Windows you are using and the linked article has some entries that are differently named and some selections on tabs that may no longer be available.


Thanks for the good information re MS OneDrive. Much apreciated and I’ll try a few things you mentioned. Generally I don’t like any software to muddle with my PC without my consent but that’s probably wishful thinking nowadays.

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Google has now fixed the problem that led to Google Drive files disappearing, and issued instructions for recovering the missing files.