Why iCloud Does Not Mean You Can Stop Backing Up!

I was excited about iCloud.  I suppose I still am, to a degree.  However, I quickly figured out that you cannot count on iCloud as a backup solution for your apps and music.  Why?

I downloaded the beta iTunes 10.3 and began checking around.  In terms of music, I have somewhere around 700 purchases that are DRM’d alone.  However, right now the total number of songs available for me on iCloud is around 200.  If I assume they’re still building the database, then that might be okay.

In terms of apps, I have a little more than 320.  As far as I can tell, the iCloud database is complete as it will get, but not all of my apps are there.

What’s the lesson that I’m taking from this?

If the item is not available on the store, it will not be available on iCloud!

Yes, that’s right, many things I’ve purchased on the iTunes store are no longer available.  Hence, it’s not on iCloud.  Whether this will be also true for any post-iCloud purchases, I don’t know.  But it’s seems clear to me at this point that anything not currently in the store will not be available on iCloud.

For example, I purchased 4 King Crimson songs from the album THRAK!.  They are DRM’d acc files.  After I made that purchase, King Crimson objected to being on the store and were removed.  I still have my purchases, though.  I fully do not expect these song to be available on iCloud because the songs are still not available.

In the app store, Delicious Library was removed after my purchase.  In this case, it was removed for a complex set of reasons I won’t get into here.  However, it’s not on the store, and it’s not in iCloud.

So, what to do?  I will be quite difficult to figure out what’s on iCloud and what’s not.  Apps are split into iPhone/iPad lists and it’s impossible to figure out the exact count of apps because of the way it’s split.  I’m not sure how many people will take the time to figure out what’s available and what’s not.

So, iCloud is promising, but it has serious holes, or at least lack of clarity, in the area of the availability of past and future purchases.  Being able to download the files again is great news, for at least those files that are available.  But I don’t think most people will keep track of what you purchases and is not available.  Just back up everything.  While the iCloud logo looks a bit heavenly, it is not a safe solution for your purchases…