Random Thoughts – Randocity!

Rant Time: iOS 9.1 and iCloud Backup == Fail

Posted in Apple, botch, business by commorancy on October 27, 2015

icloud_icon_brokenThis rant will be relatively short and sweet. I recently upgraded my iPhone to iOS 9.1. Not only were there some stupid issues around their new and improved upgrade process, iCloud backup is entirely broken. Let’s explore.

Pre-upgrade problems

Apple has introduced an upgrade after-hours process. What that means is that you need to agree to some terms and then the iPhone will upgrade between 2AM and 4AM as long as your phone is plugged in. I thought, “yay” until I got the agreement screen at which time I promptly yelled, “what the hell?”. Let me explain…

Apple forces on top of all else this automated upgrade agreement screen. It even disables the home button so you can’t get out of that screen by accidentally pressing the home button (like that would ever happen). That means you’re firmly planted on that screen (or so it seems). Anyway, on the agreement screen, you have to type in your Apple login credentials to verify you and to help you with that process, the iPhone conveniently pops up an on-screen keyboard like it typically does. Except, the Apple developers forgot one crucial detail. They forgot to give you a way to get rid of the keyboard when you’re done. Pressing the Enter button at the bottom right of the keyboard does absolutely nothing. The keyboard remains firmly planted on top of, you guessed it, the submit button. This means you cannot press the submit button… and, you can’t press the home button… and, you can’t do anything else.

So, now you’re literally stuck. You can’t press the submit button to complete the action and you can’t get out of this screen, or so it seems. I decided to take matters into my own hands. I pressed and held the power button until the Slide to Power Off slider appeared. Lo and behold, doing this actually made that screen go away. This entire debacle should have been my warning. But noooo. I didn’t listen to that little voice saying not to upgrade now.

Can’t use Automated Update

So now that I forced my way out of that screen with the power button, there is no way to go back in and resume the process. You’re probably wondering why I might want to do that? I had planned on hooking up a bluetooth keyboard to the phone so that on screen keyboard would not present. This would allow me to enter the data and then have access to the submit button, but noooo. Can’t make it that easy now can we Apple? So, I performed the upgrade in the normal way, by going into Settings=>General=>Software Update and used the standard method.

iCloud backup and 9.1 fail

Turn Off & DeleteTo a lesser degree, I had this same problem in 9.0.4 (or whatever the last 9.0 version was). When I attempted to backup my phone to iCloud, for whatever reason the iPhone decides to back up every app on your phone by default. Mind you, I have several gigs worth of apps on my phone on top of the 15G or so of images/videos in my library. I spent a good day working on getting my iCloud backup working on 9.0.x. It took me the better part of several hours working through stupid Settings app bugs just to get all of my apps excluded from backups. Let’s understand that Apple requires you to manually disable each and every app separately from being backed up. Let’s also understand that in order to do so, each time you click to green slider to the OFF position, you have confirm a popup that asks ‘Turn Off and Delete’ for every single app separately. Let’s consider that my phone has hundreds of apps installed. So many apps, in fact, that Settings crashes about 1/4 of the way through the ‘Turn Off and Delete’ confirmation banners. It’s an arduous task at best and it’s frustrating and aggravating at worst.

IMG_1821Yet, rolling into 9.1, Apple promptly reverts everything I spent 1-2 hours doing and now defaults back to turning every app ON (see left image) for backup yet again. How do I know? I get that very annoying ‘Not Enough Storage’ notification on my lock screen. I spent valuable time setting all of that up and Apple promptly forgets my settings. The very definition of bad user experience (UX). Instead, this time I can’t even stop the backups of any apps. Apple only gives 5GB of data storage for free. I had all of my devices comfortably making backups on iCloud using maybe 3.1GB total (4 devices), after the excruciatingly aggravating task of finally excluding all of the unnecessary crap that Apple insists on including. Perfect… until 9.1.

Now, I’m in a catch 22. I can’t make a successful backup because iOS continually resets all of my apps and forces me to back up everything to the iCloud the first time. Yet, iOS won’t allow me to change settings to deselect the apps because it must have a successful backup first. FAIL. You can go try to deselect apps, but that’s all for show. It doesn’t actually work. Oh sure, the green ON buttons turn OFF, but it’s not as if that actually works. It doesn’t respect that those apps are now OFF and the backup fails. Once it fails, all of those buttons you’ve spent tons of times clicking to OFF will all be automatically reenabled after the backup failure.

I have no idea what Apple was thinking here, but they clearly had their heads in the iClouds. This problem has gotten progressively worse with each release and has culminated in iCloud backup being entirely unusable unless you feel the urge to spend at least $1/mo for 50GB of storage so you can work around Apple’s stupid bugs. I have no intention of working around any developers bugs by spending money. Either provide workable functionality or don’t. But, there is no way I will ever spend money to a company to work around bugs in software. Apple, if you really want to force us to pay you to get more than 5GB, then just charge us up front for any space issued. Don’t beat around the bush by introducing bugs that make the freebie you’ve given become worthless. Let’s just be honest here.

If this is about spending yet more money with you to get people to buy into your iCloud storage, then just tell us that’s what you want. Don’t force us to go buy more because you want to force everything on our phones to back up. That’s not how you do it. Just change the terms and send everyone a notice that the 5GB storage you’ve issued us is no longer free and at the end of the month you lose it or you pay for it. Just tell the consumers what you want. You don’t need to do it by introduction of bugs that forces phone owners to backup everything on their phone.

Seriously… 5GB?

In this day and age when Google is giving practically terabytes of storage for free, Apple can only afford 5GB a month? Really? How much money does Apple make off of their products and they’re going to be that stingy with storage? On top of that, they force you to backup your entire 16/32/64GB phone over to iCloud. Not only is that stupid from the 5GB free perspective, it’s just asinine that I can’t control my bandwidth to this service. Seriously, I don’t want to send over 10-20GB of data across my network bandwidth. I want to control what I send and how much I send. Since I can no longer do that…

Buh Bye iCloud Backup.. it was nice knowing ya!

I’m done with iCloud backup. Not only is it stupidly designed, what real purpose does it serve at 5GB? I can backup my entire phone’s contents on iTunes on my local machine(s) as many times as I wish. There are no bandwidth constraints or disk space issues. Yet, I can barely backup my contacts on iCloud at 5GB. I have no intention of dropping $1/mo to get to 50GB, which is still only a pittance, let alone $10/mo for 1TB. Who knows how secure the data really is in iCloud? One breach and Apple will be run out of town on a rail.

I’m tired of dealing with Apple’s stupid developers who can no longer code their way out of a paper bag. I’m tired of dealing with bugs that shouldn’t even exist on a device that used to be the most intuitive device built. Now it’s a device that is merely following behind Android’s, ahem, innovation. So, I’ll happily head back to the time before iCloud existed. I’m done with that service for backups. I prefer to keep my backups local anyway. Buh Bye iCloud backups.

Apple, figure it out !

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6 Responses

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  1. acgarland said, on November 2, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    Update: they finally escalated my situation from the first-line technical guy to the engineers who deal directly with iCloud. Whatever they did seems to have fixed my situation. I’ve now been able to successfully backup a subset (~200 MB) of my overall application data (~12 GB unfiltered) to iCloud from my iPad. A side benefit: the selection of which apps are enabled/disabled in the backup set now seems to be remembered and the individual apps now show their contribution to the overall total–as they should.

    Weird that something on the iCloud back-end should result in such screwed-up operation on the iPad. Now that they’ve done whatever they did, it seems like the backup configuration and operation are working as I would have originally expected.

    Go figure. Of course, Apple should be ashamed for subjecting their customers through this kind of stuff: expecting us to debug their updates which aren’t thoroughly tested. I told the Apple rep that “I don’t care about having the latest new feature, I care about a device which is RELIABLE.”

    This entire idea of pushing out (poorly tested) releases every few weeks or month is questionable, IMHO. I’d much rather see say 2 updates a year (or even 1) which is very reliable and well tested.


  2. acgarland said, on October 31, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    Hey – thanks for the rant: I have the exact same situation, although with an iPad. It is CRAZY that Apple forces each app to be disabled individually and THEN loses the settings!

    One tip I did want to pass along: I found that after I switched my iPad back over to backup with iTunes to my PC, and completely turned off iCloud backup on the iPad, that I was able to go back later and turn on iCloud backup (afresh) after which it would then allow me to successfully disable apps again. (Prior to this, it refused to disable ANY apps from the backup list–simply complaining and moving the slider back to “enabled.”)


    • commorancy said, on November 1, 2015 at 3:36 am

      I’ll have to try this trick and see if I have success. Thanks for the tip.


      • acgarland said, on November 1, 2015 at 11:14 am

        Even with the trick, I still haven’t been able to back up successfully. (I’m in contact with Apple about it.) But, from what the Apple guy tells me, my unsuccessful/incomplete backups are at least reduced in size to where they should now fit. My case has been “elevated” to other engineers now who are supposedly going to look at the iCloud back end to see what might be wrong.

        Of course this is all crazy anyway because who has the time to work with these guys for days on end just to make a convenience function work?

        Also: even though the trick allowed me to disable almost all my apps (184 apps, so 368 presses to work through them all – sigh) and the attempted backup appears to have reflected my choices, when I went back to look at the selections after the failed backup they had all reverted back to “enabled” and, once again, it refused to let me disable any. But after the trick (turn iCloud backup off/on) I could disable them again as before.

        But who has time to mess with this sort of silliness? If they don’t find something obvious on the iCloud backend, then I’m through with it: I’ll just go back to doing my backups with my PC which seems to work fine (and can handle the larger size without having to selectively disable apps from being backed up).

        Good luck.


        • commorancy said, on November 1, 2015 at 2:06 pm

          My personal belief is that this ‘Not Enough Space’ message is an attempt by Apple to force you to buy more space. Rather than being an unintentional technical problem, someone at Apple thought they would increase their group’s revenue by forcing people to buy more iCloud space. Since most people who own iDevices likely do have iTunes installed, like myself, it’s easier and less expensive for me to go back to making iTunes backups. I suppose if you buy an iDevice without any type of PC with iTunes, you might rely entirely on iCloud backups… in which case, the $10 a month for 1TB might be worth it. Though, if this is an intentional moneymaking ploy, I don’t see how it will ultimately be very successful. Though, if you do choose spring for the $10 a month to hold your entire backup, please let me know if that even works. It might not. Even in 9.0.x, iCloud backups were getting touchy and they might just truly be broken. However, I have a sneaking suspicion that adding more space to iCloud backups will magically resolve this issue.


          • acgarland said, on November 1, 2015 at 3:39 pm

            It *is* hard to understand how they could release a storage solution with such a seemingly obvious problem. (Checking the Internet, there are lots of people who are having related problems to what we’ve seen: all after picking up the iOS 9+ update.) And I’m still uncertain whether–even after deselecting all my apps and trying to backup–whether it really deselects them. Others have indicated that the individual backup size each app displays won’t update until after a successful first backup has occurred. But what if the disable for individual apps is essentially not possible until after one successful backup–as some have implied? In that case, it would be much like you suggest: the initial backup would force you to upgrade your storage capacity. I’m guessing some who aren’t paying close attention have already wound up doing so.

            Oh well, I guess time will tell! :-)


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