Sunday, May 13, 2012

iOS Backup and the Cloud: Problems with Restore

After the 5.1.1 update my son's iPhone developed a crash habit. One photo in particular triggered an immediate restart on editing. Perhaps an iOS bug, maybe another problem. I did a full Restore, which means a backup then wipe then reinstall then restore. That didn't fix the bug, so we deleted the problem image.

That's not what I'm writing about though. During the Restore cycle we ran into some newer limitations with iOS backup. These included:

  • His Pocket God Comics, which are in-app purchases, were not backed up - contrary to Apple's iOS backup document. We were able to re-download them from within the Pocket God app; but that process appeared to rely on Pocket God and its Cloud servers.
  • His video podcasts vanished. We sync through iTunes though, not the Cloud, and they were still in iTunes and could be restored. Some of them aren't available from the Cloud any more.

I don't think there are any workarounds for these problems. Apple could fix this; in the Jobs era it's the kind of thing that tended to get his peripatetic attention. I doubt they will, but I'd be happy to be wrong.

My only recommendation is to distrust the Cloud, and avoid in-app purchases whenever possible. If you are using something that's Cloud dependent you don't own it -- and you don't even rent it. At best you have a fuzzy claim to occasional use that might be revoked at any time.


Martin said...

Do you create your iOS backups via iTunes or iCloud?

I don't use the latter for cost reasons, I already pay enough for other cloud storage providers … iTunes backup is tricky due, i.e., it's not automatic but data only get saved if your iOS device is connected by USB and you explicitly click 'sync' in iTunes. I know a few cases of iOS users who lost precious data because they didn't know they're to initiate their backups manually …

John Gordon said...

I've been using iTunes.

I distrust Google's Cloud because they're Evil, and Apple's Cloud because they're Incompetent.

I think for most people though iCloud backup makes more sense.

Martin said...

I think for most people though iCloud backup makes more sense.

If they can afford it. iCloud storage is rather expensive … my 64 GB iPhone is almost full and the included 5 GB iCloud storage would not go anywhere for me. 50 GB cost CHF 100.00/year (about USD 105.00) and iCloud storage is still of very limited use (and I very unsafe anyway so that I would not use it for personal data).