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Hey Apple, Hands Off My Data!

With the new macOS Sierra out, there seems to be more concern than excitement. Apple moves all of your data to iCloud, sometimes without your acknowledgment.

apple-privacyWe all know that iCloud gives every Apple ID user associated 5GB of free cloud storage. But what happens if you exceed the given storage amount? If you want more room your options are 50GB for $1/month, 200GB for $3/month, 1TB for $10/month, or 2TB for $20 per month. One of macOS Sierra’s new features is that it automatically syncs/stores your Desktop and Documents folders/files with iCloud Drive. Apple presents that you can access your files on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac whenever wherever (whatever!); including from different Macs.

However, if you access files you need on your Mac not running Sierra, you will run into some trouble. The data you need will not automatically save to iCloud Drive on your non-Sierra Mac’s local storage device. Those files need to be saved manually onto Desktop and Documents folders on iCloud Drive.

With that in mind, accessing iCloud from any of those devices and editing your files, your documents are automatically updated from anywhere you had last used them. But what Apple doesn’t let you know is that it deletes old data as needed to free up disk space for your latest, updated files.

It prioritizes your data based on what you accessed recently, and that will be kept on iCloud storage, while items you don’t usually open will be removed. It’s gone from your hard drive, but it’s in the cloud and can be downloaded again by Finder or when an application demands it. However, most users don’t know this. This feature is called Optimize Mac Storage. It turns on when the syncing of the Desktop and Document folders is turned on.

Optimize Mac Storage only works with packages. Jason Snell in his article, Syncing feeling: iCloud Drive in macOS Sierra said: “If you keep critical files outside of a package—images you’re planning on dropping into a Keynote presentation, for example, but haven’t yet—you risk them being deleted by Optimize Mac Storage.” As stated by Snell in his article, the feature can be turned off.

Furthermore, Apple notes on their website, “iOS automatically stores all your files in iCloud Drive. And with the iCloud Drive app built into iOS, you have one easy place to find, organize, and share them. That includes any documents you create using iCloud-enabled apps.” In other words, Optimize Mac Storage could be deleting your files without your knowledge and permission.

In conclusion, macOS Sierra is still very new, but for sensitive issues like storage and documents/files missing with this update, how can we trust Apple the next time around? And although there's an option to turn off “Optimize Mac Storage” and “Store in Cloud,” most people don't know about it.

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