Apple iCloud Drive – Where did My Files Go?

Well that was interesting? I’ve always been an avid user of Cloud based storage providers. And I’ve tried most of them:

  • Dropbox – my long-time favourite
  • OneDrive – generous space with Microsoft subscriptions, but at one time didn’t play particularly nicely with Mac OS.
  • Google Drive – reasonable free quota, and if you host services with Google, their storage quotas are pretty good. And their client’s have improved over the years.
  • Mega – I tried Mega a while back – as an Australian, I was keen to try the “Antipodean Alternative”. It was fast, it was generous in the space available, but the clients, and mode of operation wasn’t quite “retail” enough for my needs.

I had been using Dropbox as my primary storage provider but, had begun to question the value of their relatively expensive subscription. So what were my alternatives?

My various Microsoft subscriptions allowed me 1 TB of OneDrive space, and although that didn’t accommodate all of my requirements, it certainly allowed me to use that for critical files. I also host some services with Google, and a relatively modest upgrade in my subscription increases the Google Drive storage quota considerably … so that’s an option.

And unashamedly my family is a very “Apple-family”, and so despite the exorbitant price, we have subscribed to “Apple-One”, which I’d almost forgotten provides a quite generous 2 TB of iCloud Drive storage shared across our family members. I’d not really looked at how much the family was using and was surprised that along with all of the many device backups, iCloud based applications etc, we still had well over 1.8 TB free.

So, my plan was to use Google Drive as my primary Cloud provider – where the entirety of my cloud repository resides, and use OneDrive and iCloud Drive to store critical files, and keep the “critical files” synced across all three. And that’s all worked pretty well to date, except there’s been a really odd idiosyncrasy about getting iCloud Drive to work as I want.

Firstly, some background on iCloud Drive. There are some key factors I came to understand both before and as I began moving a significant number of files into it. Some of them are:

  • The location of your local iCloud Drive must be in the User Home Directory – so unless you take the radical step of moving your Home Directory to an external drive, you are very much constrained by the size of your boot drive – unless someone else has other ideas – this is the information I’ve determined?
  • There’s a particular configuration of iCloud Drive, whose meaning is perhaps a little unclear, but it’s critical you understand what it means for you – Optimize Mac Storage – It will be set to On by default, which makes sense for most, but the behaviour of this setting – or in my case – misbehaviour – is of interest.
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