#$@&%*! Computers!

DISCLAIMER: I understand just enough about computers in general, and Macintosh computers in particular, to be dangerous. The following account is based on that lack of knowledge. I am certain it contains misunderstandings and technical errors.

That said, about a year ago I decided it would be a good idea to back up all my scans and contact pages on the iMac to the iCloud. It seemed easy, just put the folders on the Desktop and set iCloud to back up the Desktop and Documents. If only I knew… 

One reason I chose the iCloud for my photography files was that I could access the files with either the family iMac upstairs or with my MacBook downstairs. 

My current computer problems began when I needed to free up some space on the iMac hard drive and, thinking I had copies of the files in the iCloud, I deleted them from the iMac. Later that same day I went looking for them with the MacBook and they were gone! 

I eventually figured out that setting the iCloud to back up the Desktop and Documents is not the same thing as copying them to the iCloud drive. When I deleted the files from the iMac, from which they were being backed up, the computer assumed I didn’t want them any more and deleted them from the iCloud too. No problem I thought. I have the iMac backed up with Carbonite. 

I found the Desktop and Documents files in the Carbonite backup folder and started the restore process running. It started OK but then it slowed down and just kept running and running. It took me several days to realize that Carbonite was putting the restored files in a folder on the Desktop and then, finding new files in its Desktop folder, it tried to restore them in a recursive process. The iMac eventually crashed and the files in the Recovered Files folder were a mess.

I spent a week sorting out the good files, duplicate files, and broken files. They are now in an external hard disk drive that I can connect to either the iMac or the MacBook, and backed up on the iMac desktop. The good part of this picture is that the files are safe. The bad part is that every time I add a new file or modify an existing file I have to manually change the backup to match. Clearly this is not a viable long term solution.

I would like to use just one of the computers. Unfortunately the iMac with its good speed and storage capacity is in an inconvenient location, and the highly portable MacBook has neither the speed nor the storage capacity for the job. When our son went to Best Buy for an Apple TV I tagged along and played a bit with a new MacBook Air on display. I didn’t like the feel of the new keyboard. I’m sure I could get used to it, but the price of the version with 16 GB of RAM and 500 GB of SSD kept me from doing anything silly.

This morning, just for fun, I installed the IOS version of Affinity Photo on my wife’s iPad Air 2, the oldest and slowest iPad supported by AP. The OSX version of AP is my current favorite photo processing application. I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly a photo from the iCloud drive loaded on the iPad and how easily I could use the few tools I played with.

Lots to think about…

6 thoughts on “#$@&%*! Computers!”

  1. Hi Doug,

    Solutions to your problems:

    Regular Time Machine backups of both Macs to an external disk


    Set your MacBook’s iCloud Drive to backup Documents and Desktop as you did, but, and this helps solving your space-problem, put a checkmark in the Optimize Mac Storage field.

    This makes the MacBook download the files you wantbto access from iCloud without filling up your drive. All this automatically.

    And before the Windows-Crew starts ranting 😉 the behavior you had from iCloud is the same with most other cloud based services. I just noticed that for me iCloud has been more reliable and stable for the last 5 years. Not one glitch…


    1. Thanks for the tips! I know that others have no problems with the systems and software that are giving me conniptions and you’ve given me some good pointers. I think, however, that I may have reached an age where I’d rather be doing other things with my time. Like taking pictures!

      All the time I have been working on the computer-based half of my analog/digital photo process, and not particularly enjoying it, I have been providing “technical support” for my wife’s iPad that she uses for a recipe exchange on Facebook. I put the term in double quotes because, except for occasionally shutting down a lot of unused apps and doing a power-on reset, there has been nothing for me to do. It just works.

      One thought is to buy a refurbished iPad, install a copy of Affinity Photo, and do as much of my work as I can with it, with the iMac as a backup for things that I don’t think the iPad can do as well yet. For example, as far as I know there is no IOS solution for accessing the ABW function of an Epson photo printer.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think most, if not all, of my problems are related to sharing one iCloud account on two Macs. My thought this morning is to

    – move all of my analog photography files from the MacBook to the iMac
    – move all of my other files from the iMac to the MacBook
    – back up the iMac with Time Machine on an external disk drive
    – remove the iMac from the iCloud (scary!)
    – back up the MacBook with iCloud per Frank’s recommendation
    – use wifi file sharing between the two Macs to do photo work on the MacBook.
    – forget about doing non-photo work on the iMac (not a problem).

    This sounds too easy. I wonder what I’m missing.


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