Is my ISP playing tricks on my iCloud Drive?

Today’s post is a more narrative rather than technical one. It takes its lead from my previous article on iCloud Drive, and wants to get a bit deeper, thanks also to Howard Oakley’s excellent article on what to do when everything seems to fail with your iCloud Drive.

In my previous article I stated how, eventually, I had to sign out of iCloud Drive, deactivate it, save and backup everything on multiple mediums, restart my Mac, and then reactivate everything. That seemed to fix the issue, but my peace of mind in this matter was short-lived.

The issue came back several times, without me being able to identify what was causing it and, if anything, I was doing something wrong. It seems not, but it came once more a time, last week, when not even a restart was fixing this and, most of all, files were actually not syncing! I had to do something because, as stated in the previous article, I am using iCloud Drive a lot for my work.

Sure, one could point out that I should use different cloud systems but, believe me, I have tried many of them:

  • OneDrive: while I use it extensively as an Office 365 subscriber (get your best offer here from this affiliate link if you want to renew your subscription), I have had many issues with it on my Mac, one among which has been the total corruption of my Time Machine’s snapshots to the point that the Mac would not shut down (thanks to Apple Support for getting me out of this!)
  • Google Drive: I have never liked it. Downloading shared files from mobile devices is such a pain, while shared folders’ functioning still escapes my understanding.
  • pCloud Drive: this is a relatively new player in the cloud game, and I have been using the free version to store some bulky files I need to keep but that I don’t want to be cluttering my system. Its main strength is that it is not just a cloud (sync software) but it is actually expanding your available space. If you eject it from your Finder’s sidebar, you lose access to the data until you connect it again.
  • Dropbox: I use it because I have to, too many people use it, sharing from it is wildly mainstream, so I do not really have a choice here. Still, I use only the free version and do not intend to upgrade here.

I noticed that, beside having issues with iCloud Drive, I was also experiencing network slowdowns, interruptions of service. While this is something you need to consider when you live in Italy, no matter the provider, I have tried 5 of them, it is something that should just not happen in a modern country. Sure, Internet is still based on cables, but no modern country should have the embarrassing lack of quality of Italian’s infrastructures. I just can’t wait for Starlink to be more widespread and affordable. Here is what I did to solve the issue, at least for that time as, at the moment of writing this post:

Six thousand items, that’s quite a lot! Still, everything seems sync’d in iCloud Drive (apart from that file I appear to have lost a few weeks ago and that is nowhere to be found) so I will let it be for today.

The first thing I did was restarting the Mac, as done previously, but, upon login, I saw it didn’t help at all, files were still stuck on uploading. I started to think that my ISP was doing something on my Internet ports due to using iCloud Private Relay (some ISPs dislike their users using a VPN-like software packages). I turned it off and restarted. No progress. Now for the epiphany: I went to the Control Center, clicked on my Wi-Fi network and turned off Wi-Fi completely.

I waited for all connected apps (Dropbox, Creative Cloud) to realise they didn’t have access to the network, quit all running apps, then restarted my Mac. Upon login, the Finder showed the same message in the status bar, with many items waiting to be uploaded. Once more I waited for login items to load, such as Dropbox & Creative Cloud, to realise they did not have any access to network and to sit there waiting for some user interaction. At that point, I turned on Wi-Fi and, upon connecting, the Finder found (pun intended) that no issue was actually there and that everything was indeed sync’d.

The moral

Do I have any proof that my ISP is actually blocking my connections? Not really, just personal experience of many years and many issues with them, and many years and many issues with many other ISPs here. The fact that turning off connectivity did something may also hint at an issue with my MacBook Pro’s Wi-Fi modem, but I do not think it so. It often happens to me that my download/upload speeds drop from an average of 560-350 to about 10-120. The only thing that helps is turning off and back on the Wi-Fi. Same thing with my iPad Pro and my iPhone. Could this be a bug in macOS/iOS/iPadOS? Unlikely, or it would have been widely publicised by the community.

I do not know about how ISPs work, but I for certain feel that something murky is at work here. If you have any idea on what has worked for you in the past, please let me know in the comments, and I hope that this will help you somehow.

Bottom Line

Thank you for reading today’s article.

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Thank you so much for reading!

Until the next one, this is Michele, the Music Designer.

Published by Michele Galvagno

Professional Musical Scores Designer and Engraver Graduated Classical Musician (cello) and Teacher Tech Enthusiast and Apprentice iOS / macOS Developer Grafico di Partiture Musicali Professionista Musicista classico diplomato (violoncello) ed insegnante Appassionato di tecnologia ed apprendista Sviluppatore iOS / macOS

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