I haven’t been the biggest fan of iCloud. I have never felt like I fully trust it, and have chosen to use Dropbox instead of or in addition to iCloud when dealing with settings for apps data sync and similar subjects. Until yesterday that is; now my view of iCloud has changed quite a bit.
Yesterday I decided to put iCloud Backup & Restore to the test on my iPad, and I am hugely impressed with the results. I had been planning to install the iOS 6 GM on my iPad for several days and finally got round to it yesterday. I knew that I could not update to this developer build so I would have to do a restore to get it installed.
I’ve been using iCloud backup for some time now, but I was worried about the sheer quantity of apps and apps data on my iPad when it comes time to do a restore. Even after a major apps trimming session I was still at 207 apps and right around 25GB used by them.
I decided to go ahead with the restore to iOS 6 anyway, and thought of it as a great test of how iCloud Restore works – 25GB of apps. 4GB of books, and another 2GB and bit used by music and photos. Here’s a quick rundown of how I went about this and how things went:
— After my apps trimming and cleanup exercise (which took me from only 13GB free on the iPad to a little over 24GB) I did an iCloud backup. This took just a few minutes. I also did a connected sync with iTunes on my MacBook Pro, just as an extra layer of fallback if anything went amiss with iCloud.
— Then I did my restore to the iOS 6 GM. That went smoothly.
— On the initial setup screens for iOS 6 I chose to restore from the iCloud backup I had just done a little earlier. It took a mere 10 minutes for the iPad settings to be restored – and I got a popup message confirming that and letting me know that the process of automatically downloading my purchased apps and media would now begin. At this point all the built-in apps were installed and ready to go but all of my 3rd party apps were showing in a ‘Waiting’ state with just one at a time loading and installing.
— I went into Settings and changed the Auto-Lock setting to Never, just to help things along a little.
— Next I decided to move my most used apps, and a couple of games I felt like playing on a Sunday afternoon, to the front of the re-installing queue. A double-tap on any app in the Waiting state makes it start downloading immediately – so I did that for the apps on my first two home screens and the two games I wanted to play (one at a time). I got that done in around 15 minutes.
— Then I watched NFL football on TV and played two excellent strategy games on the iPad and occasionally checked on the progress of the restore of the remaining apps and photos. And much to my surprise I found that in less than 5 hours, the restore was done. All my 207 apps were back. All their data was back – OmniFocus tasks were right in sync, Evernote, Byword, iA Writer and all my notes apps had all their data synced and right up-to-date. My iBooks and Music libraries were back, along with the Camera Roll and photos. And of course as part of the restore of settings, iCloud put back all my apps on the home screens they belonged on, and kept all my folders’ contents identical.
So an iCloud restore turned out to be fast, much faster than I expected with 31GB of data and media and apps to be restored. It also turned out to be absolutely painless – as I was able to prioritize which things I wanted back first and then happily play games on the iPad while iCloud did its thing in the background.
Color me very, very impressed with iCloud Backup & Restore. The whole experience felt slick and almost effortless. My trust level has gone way up, and I’m feeling much happier about having purchased additional iCloud backup space.
Have you used iCloud restore in a similar way? If so, how was your experience with it?