My iCloud Disaster

I had just installed the Gold Master version of El Capitan on my MacBook. It is a very routine thing for me after installing a major firmware update to then to go through every System Preference and tailor the system to my liking. I then go app by app and tweak them as well. As I got to the Reminders application, I noticed an oddity. A rogue Reminders list existed claiming the same name as one of my Calendars. I thought to myself, "That doesn't belong there." I swiftly deleted the list without giving it a second thought and to my not complete surprise, it deleted the calendar of the same name. No biggie, right? Wrong. That calendar happened to have several very important meetings, some of which contained very specific repeated occurrences that cannot be so easily replicated. My knee-jerk reaction to a calendar deletion was (Command+Z). Nope that didn't work. Obviously, because it was not actually a calendar that was deleted in the actual calendar application. So what now? I have a local backup. Unfortunately, it is two weeks old. And a proper restoration even with a 2 week old backup would require more effort than I was willing to exert.

So I pay a visit to the ever-improving website that is iCloud.com. Apple had recently announced an update to the site that would allow you to restore from a previous backup. (To be clear, this is not the same kind of complete restore one do on an iOS device. This is intended for restoring specific iCloud data and the option to do so only resides on the iCloud website.) A Calendars and Reminders restoration was included in that update. So my problem was solved. Now all I had to do was pick from one of several previous backups and select the restore option and then wait for Apple to work it's World renowned cloud service magic (cough, cough).

So boom. I did it. And now I just wait for the confirmation that the restore has completed.

................. (this shouldn't take long)............................(right?)......................................(OMG! It's been 3 hours already. Is it stuck?)..............(checking the website and notice if a restore takes longer than 24 hours, I should contact Apple)...........(thinking to myself, I feel sorry for the sucker who waited that long for a simple restore).......................(getting sleepy)......................

28 hours later

"What the hell????!!?! I call 1-800-MY-APPLE and work my way through the friendliest maze of voice automations and finally come in contact with an Apple employee who seemed to sympathize with my concern. We troubleshoot by ruling out every Apple device I own as the culprit until the time comes where I need to attend a meeting at work. I ask the eager and cheerful Apple employee if I can call him back in about 30 minutes to continue where we left off. "Sure!" says Adrian. (We will call him Adrian because that's who he said he was.) Adrian says "Give me a call back when you are done." So 30-45 minutes later, I call back. Oops. Adrian failed to tell me that his work day was over shortly after hanging up the phone with me. Thanks Adrian. I will need to call back and speak to someone else I guess.

So later that same evening, I call Apple back. This time I get escalated rather quickly. I go into detail with "Trent" regarding the entire situation answering any lingering questions that remain from the notes Adrian took earlier. We did some more extensive troubleshooting only to find out that we had no options other than to "wait it out". It appears that once you have started the restore process, the data related to the restore, which in my case was my Calendar and Reminder data, is locked. Syncing is broken and attempting to view your data on the iCloud website results in a horrific message that resembles something like "Calendar is Locked due to Maintenence." While this process attempts to work itself toward completion, you are in limbo and you are not exactly made to feel at ease when you end up waiting close to a week for all to be resolved.

I was lucky enough to have a slightly outdated local copy off all my data on my iPhone, even though Adrain insisted that I should completely wipe all my data from every Apple device containing Calendar and Reminder data. As I waited for Trent to get answers from the members of the highest ranking Apple Support Team (the engineers), I turned to Google in my time of need. Good ol' trusty Google made importing my calendar data easy and their recently released into iTunes Google Keep app seemed like a fitting replacement for Reminders.

So as the days went by, I got comfortable with Google services. You see, due to my iCloud account being locked, I didn't even have the option to wipe and start from scratch. Google was my only real option if I wanted to put this mess behind me. I had a few more back and forths with my pal Trent at Apple. I would leave a voicemail hoping for good news. He would call back without any. And then one day, in what seemed like an eternity later (although it was actually just about a week), I received an email stating that my iCloud data had been restored. After clearing the area around me, I danced a small jig and threw a couple fist bumps into the air for good measure. I called up Trent to deliver the good news and upon receiving it, he then confided in me that he was tinkering around with the restoration hoping something would trigger it's completion. We had a good laugh and said our goodbyes.

Guys, there are 4 important lessons to take away from all this:

1) Backup your data in as many ways as you can.

2) Don't be so quick to hit the "delete" key.

3) Stay far away from iCloud.com for the purpose of restoring lost data.

4) Google services are actually pretty darn good.

As of the writing of this post, I'm 100% back on iCloud now. Call me a sucker but I prefer all cloud data to be in as few places as possible. I wrote this in hopes that my experience may save my readers some real time and frustration.

Syncing data. Wild stuff. Be careful out there.