Over the past few days, there have been hundreds of reports of people being locked out of their Apple accounts for no identifiable reason. They’re then unable to do things requiring an Apple or iCloud account like texting, email, music, direct messaging, social media posting, and movies. This is affecting iPhones, iPads, Macintosh desktop and laptop machines, Apple TVs, smart speakers, and presumably Vision Pro headsets. Restoring service apparently involves a multi-step process, often on each of several devices, which sometimes doesn’t work and has to be repeated. Then they’re forced to change their AppleID password which then requires them to generate new “application-specific passwords” for any apps that use them (most email and social media apps). Sometimes that process fails and has to be repeated.

So what is the cloud?

It’s marketing-speak for “someone else’s computers.” Sometimes, letting someone else manage your computers is a good thing. Just bear in mind some advice I got in the early 2000’s:

“If it’s in the cloud, it can and will disappear some day, possibly permanently, possibly without warning and without recourse.”

It happened with Google One recently. A lot of folks lost business-critical files. Google was very, very sorry.

It has happened with Microsoft Azure. It has happened with Apple before. Adobe Creative Cloud. Amazon AWS.

Those were the big events that affected many people and got headlines, but it can also be just your account when your payment information gets messed up, or malicious complaints are directed at your account, someone steals (or attempts to steal) your credentials, or your cloud provider arbitrarily decides you’re a pedophile. It can happen when a popular service simply decides to shut down (Picasa).

People relying on cloud services have even been locked out of their cars.

I use the cloud for (encrypted!) backups, but I have other backups as well. Some people seem to think that they don’t need backups for things stored in the cloud. Apple even has an “optimize storage” feature that deletes local copies of your files after putting them in Apple’s cloud, guaranteeing you don’t have an out-of-cloud backup.

Don’t store anything in the cloud that you can’t afford to lose.


addendum 20240509:

Then there’s Google accidentally deleting a company’s entire private cloud

← previous