My preference for cloud storage is Dropbox, then iCloud, and then I use but don’t depend on a few others; including Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, and even Box. Why Dropbox? It’s fast and syncs files between devices within minutes. Why iCloud? It works on all my Apple devices and it’s priced right. Why not the others? Other cloud apps don’t make it easy to sync between devices or with all applications.
Any other caveats? Yes. A big one without a solution. iCloud Drive has a dirty rotten mess hidden inside. In most cases, the files you store on iCloud Drive on your Mac are available on your other Macs, and if you set up iPhone or iPad with the Files app, iCloud files show up there, too. What’s not to like? Files that sync everywhere is a good thing, right?
Yeah, well, what about all those hidden files in iCloud Drive?
Hidden files? That’s right. iCloud Drive is a repository for hidden files and folders left over from various applications that may have been deleted on your Mac, iPhone, or iPad. Those folders are orphans, abandoned. They’re hidden in the Finder and you cannot see them in the iOS Files app. But they are there and they cannot be deleted (or, at least, I cannot find a way to delete those orphaned files).
Here’s a look at my iCloud Drive from my Mac’s Finder with hidden files turned on.
The grayed out files and folders are from apps which are no longer installed on Mac, iPhone, or iPad. Many apps leave behind such file and folder clutter. My iCloud Drive has a few dozen– all from applications no longer installed on any device.
I understand why Apple allows file and folder visibility for specific apps or user created folders, but I do not understand why those folders cannot be deleted. That’s right. Right-Click. Select Move to Trash. Click Delete. That does not delete the folder or the files. They are orphaned.
Yet, those same orphaned folders are not visible within apps that can access the Files app on iPhone and iPad in iOS 11. I opened Terminal.app and navigated to the User directory on my Mac and the folders you see above are not displayed.
How does one delete such orphaned folders in iCloud Drive? This is a dirty rotten hidden mess of orphaned folders and files with no apparent way to delete them. They’re only visible in apps such as Path Finder or utilities which display hidden files but Delete or Move to Trash does not delete the files.