Often people think about syncing data between devices in the wrong way. iCloud allows you not so much to sync data, as to access a common source of data. Viewing your contacts on your Mac or iPhone is similar to viewing a web page in that the data is on a server, and the app you are using is just accessing it.
Hi this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today’s episode let’s talk about how iCloud synchs your data.
So syncing data between your Macs and iOS devices changed with iCloud. But a lot of people still think of syncing in the same way as before iCloud. So let’s take the time to look at really how syncing works.
So before iCloud it was pretty simple. You would have say an iMac and an iPhone. It could be two Macs or it could be two iOS devices. It really doesn’t matter. You have more than one device. What would happens is when you would change something. Let’s use Contacts as an example here. You would change something, add a new contact or edit a contact, and when you would connect the two devices, for instance you would hook your iPhone into your iMac with a cable and then you would use iTunes to sync. Then the data would go back and forth. If you made some changes on your iMac it would transfer to your iPhone. If you made some changes on your iPhone it would transfer to your iMac. That would happen whenever you would connect and sync.
Now with iCloud here is one way of looking at it. You’ve got your contacts in iCloud. When you sync you could still use the old fashion way. But the way you should use it is to turn off the old fashioned way of syncing through iTunes and instead just sync through iCloud.
So you would make a change on your Mac and it would sync to iCloud. You make a change on your iPhone and it would sync to iCloud and then eventually it would find its way to the other device. So you make a change on your iMac, it would sync to iCloud and then sync from iCloud to your iPhone, and vice versa. This is one way of looking at how cloud syncing works.
But here is another way of looking at it. If you look at it as your contacts are only in one place. They are only in iCloud. That is where they exist. What you are doing with your iMac or iPhone is that you are using your Contacts app there to view that data. So when you are looking at your contacts on your iMac you are viewing the contacts that are on iCloud. The same thing with your iPhone.
Now one way to think about that is to think about how you view web pages. It is the same way. You’ve got a website and you can view that on a browser on your iMac or you can view that on a browser on your iPhone. You don’t ever think that the website is actually on your iMac or on you iPhone. Of course it is not. It is not even your website. It is on a web server somewhere.
Well it is the same thing here. The contacts are on a server somewhere and you are using the Contacts app on your iMac or your iPhone to view them.
Now here is a more accurate picture of what is going on because you are not just viewing the you are also changing them. You are adding new ones, deleting them, and editing them. So both the Contacts app on the iMac and the iPhone have the ability to send edit back to the server. So you’ve changed something in Contacts on your iMac and you the edit back to your Contacts in iCloud. The next time you view Contacts on the iPhone it will be showing you the latest one from iCloud.
So what happens if one device is off line. Say you are traveling and you are on an airplane and your iPhone is not connected to the internet. So what happens. There is a temporary cache. The last time you are looking at Contacts your iPhone was smart enough to save all the data locally in a little temporary file. You can still view those contacts on your iPhone. It realizes that you can’t connect to iCloud and shows you what it has as the last available data.
Likewise when you make an edit it saves it to that temporary cache. Then the next time you connect to the internet what happens is the edits from the temporary cache go up to iCloud and you reestablish contact with iCloud and you can again view the latest information up in iCloud.
So when you think about Contacts syncing between your Mac and your iPhone it is not exactly wrong but if you are trouble- shooting something kind of thinking of it that way will make it harder to figure out what is going on. It is important to understand that everything, all your devices, are talking to iCloud, not to each other, and iCloud is being used as the one place where the data really exists.
Here is something very important to realize. There is always another way to view this data. It is using iCloud.com. Now iCloud.com is kind of like a direct connection to the database of information at your iCloud account. So whenever you are troubleshooting something or you want to look at your data directly you just log onto iCloud.com and you can go and see the data there.
So for instance when I get questions about people saying well I made a change on my iMac and I don’t see it on my iPhone the first thing to do is to go to iCloud.com and find out what is really there in your Contacts in you iCloud account. That usually will help you figure out what may be going on or what is taking a little longer to sync.
I’m using Contacts as an example but the same thing applies to Events, it applies to Notes, it apples to Reminders. Anything that iCloud syncs across your different devices. It is all there at iCloud.com and it is all saved in iCloud. You are really using the different apps to have access to it just the same way that a web browser allows you to have access to a website.
So I hope you found this useful. Until next time this is Gary with MacMost Now.