iCloud Woes Slowly Rain Down on iOS 5 Beta 2 Users
Apple recently released iOS 5 Beta 2, making the process of updating a phone’s iOS a whole lot easier. No more does a user have to perform a restore to do an update via syncing with iTunes. After two weeks of using the first iOS 5 beta, the first legitimate moment has arrived for me to use the “Backup from iCloud” feature and cut the cord with iTunes. Here’s some perspective on that process …
Slow is the first word that comes to mind with the new process. Yes, it’s beta, yes, and yes, likely everyone is jumping on iCloud to perform the same exact restore process that I am, but it’s terribly disconcerting when a message from “Restore from iCloud” says, “12 hours remaining,” and after 15 minutes says, “16 hours remaining.” It’s all over Wi-Fi, so it’s conceivable that re-downloading up to 5GB of data might be slow, but not 16 hours slow.
But here’s the good news: Even applications that haven’t been directly tied into iCloud yet have been backed up to iCloud. I checked my iCloud backup settings before I upgraded to beta 2, and found that everything from Angry Birds to Microsoft Photosynth had information backed up to it. That means all my Angry Birds scores are in Apple’s cloud, and all my panoramic pictures were backed up without having to sync to iTunes. I know this is the point of iCloud, but I didn’t realize how extensively Apple has integrated it into the OS. It was my initial understanding that developers would have to write to Apple’s iCloud APIs before Apple started backing up third-party apps to iCloud, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
But here’s the bad news: Applications that I don’t really care about are taking up part of my 5GB of free iCloud space. iCloud users may want to go into their settings and switch off the non-important applications to save on their free space and drastically cut down on backup time.
On a hunch, I took my iPhone down to the basement where my wireless router is, and noticed that at full Wi-Fi signal strength, the backup time decreased from 16 hours all the way down to “about one hour.” But then some more bad news: the backup failed, leaving me with a generic iPhone and no way to restart the backup process unless I completely wiped the phone and started again. Which I did. Which resulted in a “20 hours remaining” backup window — which just failed again. (At 11:30 p.m. June 26, 2011, on my fourth iCloud restore attempt, I was finally blessed with an initial 10-hour restore time message that quickly jumped down to about 45 minutes. I’ll report in the comments how long this took and whether it successfully completed.)
Misery loves company, so it’s comforting to note (I guess?) that everyone else seems to be having a long restore problem, too.
At any rate, beta or not, it seems that the promise of iCloud has yet to be fulfilled. Here’s to hoping all the kinks are worked out by the Fall, and a little reminder that locally backed-up data is never a bad idea.