Do you use your phone and computer's cloud syncing services?

I use iOS (and OS X) and have some parts integrated, and use iCloud for some things but not all - I let my music be synced/uploaded to the cloud but not my photos for instance. I use Siri on my phone, but not on my computer, etc.

I’m interested in how much access (to your private data) you allow your devices to upload to the cloud. Things such as:

  • iCloud photo storage - also used for syncing between devices
  • iCloud emails for sync/storage etc
  • iCloud web browsing/bookmarks/syncing etc
  • iCloud contacts/messages etc

Basically, the more cloud features you turn on, the more of your private data is stored on their servers…

How much or how little do you use cloud services on your devices?


I have an Android phone and I have my phone contacts synced to my gmail account. But photos I sync via Dropbox instead. Bookmarks I have synced via Chrome/Google, but I’m partially moved away from Chrome to Firefox.


I distrust iOS and iCloud syncing - I have missed a dental appointment due to
calendars not syncing. Some photos on my iPhone do not appear on on my iMac and I haven’t a clue why.

I’ve found Dropbox to be pretty reliable.

As for long term storage this worries me - where will the photos in the cloud be in 100 years time?

Most images I take end up encrypted in a payed-for cloud storage - but there are no legal guarantees to protect this information (it’s best effort) and If I stop paying the data vanishes (I assume) - I would be a shame if we loose our history.

Projects like are working on problems like this (preserving data forever) – syncing and data preservation should be solved with peer-2-peer
storage sharing solutions (I’ll store your data if you store mine).

My solution is to store as much as possible on local disks, and keep essential backup data on Dropbox (in case the house burns down) - I have my own sync programs.


Nope. The only thing I use the “cloud” for is gmail, and I use Thunderbird on my macbook. I was never a big fan of the “utility model”, and I still advise my customers to keep it in house.


I used to use Dropbox extensively, and had my own photo syncing system setup that used Hazel on my computer, and Dropbox on mine and my wife’s phone to colocate our photos into one library. I also used it for it’s file-sharing ability as per normal.

That all changed when I found out how they were circumventing Apple’s security on OSX to get the access they “needed”.

Now, I use iCloud for everything. Photos are synced with iCloud photo library (it’s a minor annoyance that even though we’re setup as a “Family” on iCloud, we can’t share a photo library). There have been instances where it’s taken exception to a group of photos and forgotten they exist. My wedding photos have been lost twice, but luckily I keep offline backups. These aren’t automatic backups (as I would like), but I routinely export copies of photos from the library and into a file (which gets backed up separately). iCloud backing up the Photo Library database doesn’t give me enough confidence, proved by my wedding photos.

All my emails are on iCloud, I’ve always used iCloud, MobileMe, and .Mac before that. It’s been the most dependable email system I’ve encountered. Rumours of the way Google uses email contents on Gmail accounts are worrying.

Love the tab syncing between devices in Safari, that’s very useful. As is clipboard sharing because I use my iPad for dev work, where clipboard management is still clunky. Copying on my laptop, and pasting on the iPad works well.

Calendar sync through iCloud is so-so. My wife seems to have more issues with devices not syncing than I do, but it’s never lost anything. Only errors have been human (deleted the wrong, shared event).

All my music now comes from Apple Music. I archived away my personal library a few years ago, forgot I even had it, and just started fresh. For the amount of music I listen to, Apple Music (or Spotify) is a no brainer.

I’ve started to use iCloud Drive more and more. It’s slowly gained my trust, purely for the ability that I can still use a separate system to create my own backups (Arq uploading to Backblaze B2) because the synced folders are just that; folders. Anything that syncs between devices is notoriously hard to backup automatically because of when things get deleted on one device, and propagates through. This system seems to handle that so far.

I’m about as comfortable with all this data being synced and shared as I’m ever likely to be. Apple have the best track record so far when it comes to privacy, even if cloud services have been their Achilles heel. They’re at a point that they’re easy enough to be worth using, and secure enough (I think) that I’m not worried. If either of those things changed, I’d be gone like a shot.


Gmail for Emails, I also use it to get messages from bunch of “legacy addresses”.

Protonmail account for private emails that have to be on the cloud.

Dropbox for files, some time ago I decided it makes more sense to trust them then to lose time not using them and synchronizing per hand. I don’t keep to much there though.

That’s it, quite old school when I think about it :slight_smile:

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Dropbox for photo sync, Google for calendar, Proton for email, Google for contacts…from iOS

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Google Photos for photos, Google Calendar for calendar, GoogleMail for email, Google Contacts for contacts, Google XXX for xxx, I use google for about everything I can it seems… >.>

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Well, this is the antithesis of me I guess. I avoid google for everything! :smile:

I mean, their services are good enough, and I used them for a long time, but I don’t agree with their speech of “we’re not evil”, while they really don’t give a :poop: about this. Google is a company, and like any other company, what matters for them is :moneybag:. So I prefer the honest companies (or at least not hypocrite companies) that does not come with this bull​:poop:y talk to get some naive customers.

No offense, I’m not calling everyone who uses Google services naive, please do not interpret it this way. I know their services are good, and maybe some are the best available. I used them before, and I had no reason to give up on them except for this philosophical one. Maybe for you, it’s not a good reason not to use a service. As for me, well, I take this honesty issue very seriously.

Sorry for the off-topic… Now about the question: I use iCloud services for almost everything now, except for photos, but it’s because I don’t want to pay to store them, otherwise, I would upload them too.


Oh I know that I am entirely their product, but I’m fine with that as long as it only affects me in terms of ads (better I see things that are programming related instead of seeing things that are entirely unrelated to me).

But I do take a snapshot of my entire account via Google Checkout on occasion and store it into my backups, in addition my files tend to be stored on SFTP as well. :slight_smile:

No worry, I entirely know there is a philosophical issue surrounding it, but it’s one that I’m Okay with, as stated, I know that I am their product, but I’m going to be whether I use their stuff or not, so I may as well get use out of it. :slight_smile:

Now iAnything I find a very very walled ecosystem, I could not see myself using iAnything for not just philosophical reasons, but also that they have an intense lack of tooling, multi-system support, among others, I find it utter garbage in comparison to Google’s, as well as you are a product to them too. :wink:


I use iCloud for syncing Contacts, Calendar, Notes, and Reminders between Apple devices. Recently I’ve moved most of my smaller files (writing and such) out of Dropbox and into iCloud Drive. This works well with an app-based workflow.

But for photos, I’ve found iCloud not to be fast enough. I left the macOS app running all night and it would only upload a few photos. It’s basically unusable. So, although I use the Photos apps on macOS and iOS, I backup the files to Mega instead and manually copy photo files between devices when the cable is plugged in.

Apple Music is great for building a hybrid library - some music from external sources, the rest provided by the service.

I have some privacy concerns with Google but still use Gmail since Apple doesn’t provide a service for using an email address based on your own domain. Google’s use-your-own-domain service remains free for existing users (I believe it’s a pay service now), so for simplicity and cost I’ve left it as-is.

Indeed, I agree with every word you say. But at least they don’t come with the “we’re not evil” speech. :wink:

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And they are just good enough for me because they just work, so I use them without any major downside on productivity and etc.

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My Android phone contact synced to my Gmail account.

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Yep, is where my phone syncs with for contacts.

Pretty odd. When I went all out Apple about 7 months ago I imported ~6500 images and photos into one of my Macbooks (from Dropbox). The import into the Macbook itself took 2-3 minutes and within 60-70 minutes all photos were on my iPhone X, iPad Pro and the second Macbook I have. Granted I am in Eastern Europe and we have gigabit links for $50 around here but it can’t be only that… Probably your configuration wasn’t to sync the calendar automatically out of the box. Annoying but I’ve heard it happen to people.

Of course they won’t even last that long, we all know it. Not Google, not Apple and certainly not Dropbox. What I am planning to do is to use an iOS or macOS app that costs $5 which does additional offline backups to own servers or home clouds (like ownCloud or Syncthing) or, you know, a home NAS machine.

I was pretty stoked about IPFS until I learned that they don’t do automatic replication. If I publish a content hash 1234 now, it will still be only with me forever until somebody actually requests that particular content hash. So in my eyes IPFS is ill-suited to be a future internet infrastructure. Combined with the team being kind of skittish about DMCA requests and being ready to remove content hashes on governmental agencies request without a dispute or requiring a proper court case… I don’t know, doesn’t seem they are actually better than the current incarnation of the internet (namely the WWW).

I am not saying “let’s encrypt child porn and publish it to the peer-to-peer network and never delete it” – of course I am not saying that. But surely some resistance to unquestioned censorship must be in place, otherwise why not just stay on the WWW forever?

And as already mentioned, IPFS doesn’t do automatic and transparent replication which is a huge show-stopper. I’d willingly accept a program from a trusted source and configure it to use, say, 300GB of my HDD space, and use 30% of my gigabit connection 24/7 – sort of like a torrent client – if that helps this next-gen internet be automatically replicated and resilient to censorship or disaster deletions (like a hurricane destroying a data center).

I would even go as far as to buy and maintain a dedicated machine for that. I care really deeply about the humanity’s knowledge and would gladly pin any Wikipedia and university papers content hashes I could find.

As for Dropbox, lately I only started to keep non-essential data there and have encrypted blobs that contain some more interesting pieces of info – like a password vault, archives of my invoices, history of some personal notes, things like that.

I agree with you though: local storage is the most secure long-term, as long as one includes bit rot in their storage strategy (namely always 1-2 redundant copies outside of the originals).

Please don’t take me for an Apple zealot but I find this very strange. Maybe it’s because I have a gigabit link but a 20GB video gets synced from iPhone to iPad in less than an hour. As mentioned above, I imported ~6500 images and they were on 3 other devices within an hour. Maybe it’s your internet – or maybe your Macbook wanted to index the photos first; they have this really nasty habit to scan photos for objects for a LONG time before actually syncing them.

Well, for $5 you can buy a ton of apps that export everything you can think of on your iOS device to an offline storage so not that walled IMO.

But it doesn’t!

This was my viewpoint as well before I actually thought about it some more. Or to cite a friend of mine “They have a good service, it’s free (or very cheap), and I never click on ads and buy stuff I don’t need so I don’t care”.

  1. You may not know that you buy stuff you don’t need :stuck_out_tongue: That’s kind of the point.
  2. Maybe you don’t click ads and buy stuff, but they still use your data to train their software to make other people buy stuff. Like that young, insecure teenager who thinks she’s overweight and Google shuvs the perfect ad in her face at the exact right time when she’s as most likely to buy some shitty loose weight product. Not because they are evil, but it was the perfect timing to show ad X for user Y to make profit.

Now you’ll see below that I’m using Apple products but I don’t say that Apple are better, not at all. It’s just in regard of the ads business I don’t like what Google is doing.

This was a bit offtopic…

On topic!

Email: FastMail (still have an old legacy gmail account as well)
iCloud: Photos from my phone, iMesage and contacts.
Adobe Lightroom: Photos from DSLR.

I don’t really buy anything except food, and the occasional computer part to replace something that dies. I abhor spending money… >.>

Sure, I’m fine with that kind of advertising, I do wish there were more things that regulated what was allowed to be advertised though (like if something says weight loss then there need to be multiple large double-blind peer reviewed studies). It’s not advertising itself that is bad, it is often just the products that are, and those should be regulated far more severely than the currently are. ^.^

Honestly though, I’d love if ads actually advertised to me interesting things, but nothing does so far.