Biggest requirement for setting up iCloud: Time

Biggest requirement for setting up iCloud: Time

Summary: Many Mac and iOS users have eagerly been awaiting the launch of iCloud. Now that it's here, be prepared to set aside a good chunk of your time.

TOPICS: Cloud, Apple, Mobile OS

iCloud could revolutionize cloud computing for the average consumer with Mac products (or at least be a step up from Mobile Me), but it's going to take awhile to get there.

And when I mean it's going to take awhile, I'm referring to just how long it takes for one user to set up iCloud.

Based on my personal experience and Apple gadgets, it took several hours over the course of a few days -- mainly because I just didn't want to sit around anymore staring at screens and basically doing the same commands and actions over and over again.

To clarify, I'll start with the three iCloud-ready products at my disposal:

  • MacBook Pro (running Lion from when it was first released in July)
  • iPhone 4
  • iPad 2

Initially, it seems like getting into iCloud is easy. Creating an account surely is as it is just tied to an iTunes account, which has to already exist to operate one of these products. From here, I could access the web portal (, but upon entering, it's obvious that there isn't much there if you don't have anything synced and uploaded already.

I already knew that iOS 5 is a requirement for mobile devices to take advantage of iCloud. That's a given.

But the real time suck started with updating my MacBook Pro software because iCloud requires Lion 10.7.2. And it's no small upgrade either. Including the download and restart times, it took at least 30 minutes to get over that hurdle.

When that was done, it came time to create another account: an email address using Then I had to check off which applications I wanted to sync with iCloud. This will likely vary by the user, but there are at least two areas where you should be wary here: calendars and photos.

The problem with syncing calendars comes into play if you use Google Calendars -- and likely other calendars you sync using Exchange as well. A number of iCloud/Google Calendar users have unfortunately run into a problem in which iCloud deleted everything from Google. Google has since posted the following update, but it might not be a bad idea to export a backup from Google Calendars to your desktop first:

We're aware that setting up iCloud sync may cause events to be deleted from Google Calendar if you're already syncing your information between iCal and Google Calendar. In response we've stopped deleting the information until this issue is fixed. Until further notice, setting up iCloud sync or deleting an event in iCal will not remove the event in Google Calendar. We've contacted Apple and we are actively working on this. We're also attempting to restore the deleted events. Thanks for bringing this to our attention, we'll keep you posted.

Using the same export idea, there have been other tips posted on getting around this issue to move Google Calendars to iCloud.

As for the Photos, beware that this could consume a huge amount of the free 5GB allotment. Here in lies yet another software update -- and we haven't even gotten to upgrading to iOS 5 yet. iCloud requires Aperture 3.2 and/or iPhoto 9.2. If you upgraded to iLife '11 last fall, you can get this update using the usual Software Update tool. iLife '11 updates are also available via the Mac App Store.

GottaBeMobile posted a handy guide on operating iCloud's Photo Stream using iPhoto, and it would be wise to heed the advice on automatic uploads, especially if you have a lot of high-res snapshots.

If you own multiple Mac and iOS gadgets, you'll quickly realize that 5GB really isn't much, depending on how you plan to utilize iCloud. If you're only interested in using it for email, syncing your calendars and contacts, etc., then 5GB will be plenty. But if you plan on using it as a backup system for your iOS devices, start thinking about paying for more storage space.

Moving on to iOS 5, this will also consume a huge amount of time, especially if you have more than one iOS device (i.e. iPhone, iPad or iPod touch). At least in this case, you can keep working on your computer while the software is downloading and installing on your mobile gadget. But just don't do this at a time when you're expecting an important call on your iPhone. It also takes approximately 30 minutes to download and install the software to each device.

From here, you'll also be prompted as soon as the device turns on with iOS 5 for the first time to edit your basic iCloud settings. You'll also see some of the new features taking up space on your mobile home screens (i.e. Reminders, Newsstand, etc.), but let's move on to adjusting more iCloud settings.

iCloud enables the user to either back up basic settings (i.e. calendars, contacts) as well as data from mobile apps. This became a huge hassle (and even more time consuming) as I had to deal with which apps I wanted to back up because I have over 60 apps on each device.

Under Storage & Backup, if I chose to back up the device using iCloud (rather than connecting it to my computer and then using iTunes), the data transfer would be at well over 5GB, and that's just the iPad. Forget about backing up my iPhone then. I didn't like that option, so the alternative (besides going the corded route) is to turn off the back up setting for each individual app except for the handful I cared about. After doing this on the iPad, I had to take a break before going back to doing this on the iPhone.

At the end of all of this, I'm sure (or at least desperately hope) that iCloud will prove to be a useful tool in keeping all of my Apple gadgets connected wirelessly. But I'll never forget how long it took just to get over the set-up process.


Topics: Cloud, Apple, Mobile OS

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  • it was not as easy as I thought it might be or it could be...

    ...little confusing.
  • Time Suck? REALLY? Are you serious?

    Have you never owned a WinX machine? Where if you make any little change, you spend a half to full day getting the frackin' machine back operating? And you gripe about a little time downloading updates and changing settings to operate in a whole new iCloud paradigm? Get real. A WinX machine is a hobby machine - plan for lots of time keeping it running. If I want to just get stuff done, I use a Mac.
    • Never happened to me.


      Unless, by "any little change", you're referring to the replacement of a dead hard drive & reinstalling the OS from scratch -- although I highly doubt the majority of users out there would call that a "little change".

      Truly little changes would be changing your video card, adding a new printer, adding a 2nd hard drive or other peripheral device, etc... none of which has ever taken me more than half an hour or so at most to complete, & mostly can be done within 5-15 minutes on a WinX machine.
    • RE: Biggest requirement for setting up iCloud: Time


      One Windows Live account and I was happily saving and sharing photos etc on my WP7 phone. Have a look at Hawaii 50, you take a pic, you send it to Skydrive. Interesting that Hawaii seems to be the hot spot for Windows phones ;-)

      All right I know it's product placement, but if it's good enough for H50 and Bones ;-)
      • RE: Biggest requirement for setting up iCloud: Time

        @tonymcs@... <i>All right I know it's product placement, but if it's good enough for H50 and Bones </i><br>I have the opposite opinion. I saw the 50 episode last week where they kept mentioning Skydrive and I have seen Bones and other shows where they used WP7. Every company tries to get product placement but my issue with the above mentioned is it goes beyond product placement to in your face advertising. They did the same thing with Bing when it first started and turn me off of it. Product placement is great marketing but it has to be done right and at least for me this in your face approach is a turn off, not something that will make me check out the product. Unfortunately for MS I have spoke to a lot of people that feel this way and due to this type of marketing no matter how great their product might be these people are not interested. Not saying that the people I spoke to add up to much of the market but how many others are turned off by it.
    • RE: Biggest requirement for setting up iCloud: Time

      maybe it's time for you to upgrade from windows 95...
    • RE: Biggest requirement for setting up iCloud: Time

      @drskywalker Sorry, but talk like that just makes you look like a fanboy and irrelevant.
  • 5gb just be back up your iPad?

    I have over 130 apps on my iPhone and about 50 on my iPad and have only used 1gb to back them both up to the cloud without editing which apps back up.
    • Pics, not apps


      She was talking about her digital pictures, which can easily start digging into your allocation. Remember, she's talking about being able to share all of your files across all of your iOS devices -- not just what you have stored on your iPad & iPhone, but also on your Mac.
    • RE: Biggest requirement for setting up iCloud: Time

      It was a mere few hours before iCloud started saying it was nearly full, and started suggesting upgrade pricing plans.

      Perhaps Apple should invest some of their profits into giving customers with apple hardware 50Gb gratis, not a miserable 5Gb.
      • RE: Biggest requirement for setting up iCloud: Time

        @neil.postlethwaite@... Would be nice but they are giving you more than 5GB.
  • Oh stop whining.

    They'll work the kinks out. Unlike Microsoft, which keeps making things worse year after year.
    • RE: Biggest requirement for setting up iCloud: Time

      Though I love my Apple products, Windows 7 has made my PC experience very enjoyable as well. Improvements can be made in a matter of updates or upgrades.
    • RE: Biggest requirement for setting up iCloud: Time

      @ithnkitsme This is so typical. An article about a flaw in some Apple product and what do you get? A bunch of Apple fanboys starting to shout: "but...but...but... look at MS, their products are even worse!".<br>This is not about MS! What do they have to do with this? just admit that the setup of iCloud is not entirely user friendly. Or are you all suggesting that a MS employee sneaked into the company at night to make changes to the setup workflow? :-p<br><br>P.S. I'm not specifically a MS 'fanboy' but this kind of cr*p just goes beyond comprehension...
      • RE: Biggest requirement for setting up iCloud: Time

        @belli_bettens@... But it's no different than the MS fanboys saying what about Apple in an article about MS. Neither one is any better than the other.

        I personally didn't have any issue with the setup of iCloud and most definitely didn't find it to be anything other than user friendly.
  • RE: Biggest requirement for setting up iCloud: Time

    Your internet connection must be god-awful slow, Rachel. It took me 20 minutes to get both mine and my wife's iPhones updated from 4 to 5 ON LAUNCH DAY, and maybe all of 5 minutes to install the 10.7.2 update on my Hackintosh and her early 2008 MacBook Pro (both of which are slower than your current-model MBP). Converting my iTunes account to an iCloud account for me took a minute; making a new iCloud account for my wife took 30 seconds.

    When I realized I needed to update both machines to iPhoto 9.0.2, that was maybe a minute or two out of my day. So all in all, it took me probably an hour to update 2 phones and 2 computers for the iCloud.

    I can't say so much for updating my AppleTV - however, unlike the phones, it's a device that you just set it and forget it.
    • RE: Biggest requirement for setting up iCloud: Time

      @Champ_Kind Mine didn't go that fast but updating and setting up 2 Win machines, 1 MBP, 1 iPhone 4, 1 3GS, 1 iPod Touch and an iPad between my wife and I didn't take as long as the article seemed to imply. I did 1 Win machine, the iPhone 4 and the MBP on launch day which did make it take longer but not too bad. I am sure it helped a bit that we were already MobileMe users but overall I thought the setup was pretty easy.
  • RE: The 5 GB limit

    After using Lion for a few weeks, I've decided I don't really want or need it for lots of reasons, but the lack of Rosetta to enable me to use my older Microsoft Windows is a major one. Now, after thinking about the situation and noting that I have upwards of 12 GB of music from my CD collection on my two iPods, I think I'll just make do by syncing them with iTunes on my computer.
    • RE: Biggest requirement for setting up iCloud: Time

      @K4thwright If you purchased the music from iTunes or if you pay for the matching service then it does not go toward your 5GB of storage.
  • RE: Biggest requirement for setting up iCloud: Time

    Don't forget all the time and worry and headaches you'll get when the cloud crashes: like your server going down, the iCloud provider being hacked, etc. And don't say that won't happen. It's happening now.

    No thank you, I'll stay away from any cloud.