It’s No Secret That Ever Since ios 8 iCloud Photo Backups Aggressively Hog Network Bandwidth
Yet, Apple has not addressed the problem, leaving thousands of users with so little bandwidth it’s oftentimes impossible to even stream Netflix. You know things are bad when you can’t even stream Netflix, because that’s the one streaming service that’s a master at managing bandwidth!
The More Apple Mobile Devices There Are In A Household, The Bigger the Problem Is
But web searches for solutions yielded little in terms of results. That’s why I decided to write this short post. There’s no effective method of halting iCloud photo uploads temporarily. Any attempt to do this can actually make the situation much worse by potentially invoking entirely new upload and download streams of large libraries.
I ran across a simple solution that we use on a daily basis. We’ll continue to do so either until Apple fixes the problem or we manage to optimize our bandwidth by throttling iCloud photo activity*.
Air Plane Mode Comes to the Rescue!
The solution is to place any and all devices into Airplane mode until a time that network resources are no longer actively needed…probably when everyone goes to sleep. It’s not an elegant or brilliant solution, but it is a simple one and it does the trick!
Update Jan. 2018
I have 2 things to add to the above information.
Not All ios Devices Need to Be in Air Plane Mode
First, not every ios Device needs to be placed in Air Plane mode…just the ones that have recently had new photos or videos added to them. It’s the uploading of these to Apple’s iCloud that usurps so much of our bandwidth, and just placing offending ios devices into Air Plane mode instantly solves the problem for us.
*macOS Server Was Briefly an AMAZING Solution!
I did discover a much better long term solution too…but it’s really only useful if you own a Mac computer. We actually bought a Mac Mini to the tune of $1700 just to address iCloud network problems! The solution was a Mac utility app that costs $20 called MacOS Server. Within MacOS Server is a caching service which manages all of your iCloud data for your ios device so that, as long as you keep your Mac runnng, Apple iCloud network bandwidth problems are not an issue anymore, The utility is really designed for schools and businesses that maintain a lot of Apple devices but I discovered that many, many home users have begun using it too. Especially Apple employees!
We learned about MacOS Server in the summer of 2017 and purchased it for $20. It was pretty easy to setup and begin using…even for a nontech person I think. The one tricky thing about it was that you need to keep your Mac awake and running 24/7. No amount of tweaking power settings seemed to accomplish this for me, so I got a freeware program called Amphetamine which runs in the background and keeps our Mac awake and running. Amphetamine was great and solved the problem!
But a bigger problem cropped up literally a few months after we finally got everything working so beautifully. Apple came out with their new Mac OS High Sierra and with it they’ve disable support for MacOS Server’s caching service. They say the reason is because High Sierra has its own caching utility but that only works in a tethered mode, meaning you need to have your ios device physically plugged into your Mac with a charging cable. So High Sierra isn’t really doing the same thing at all and I have no idea what Apple dimwit came up with the concept that it was. How, in the world is connecting one device to your computer with a cable comparable to having all of your ios devices use iCloud data seamlessly and wirelessly even remotely similar?
So sadly, our bandwidth problems appear to not be resolved once again :-(
If anyone reading this is using OS Server for their caching service like we are and wants a solution too, please go and leave feedback for Apple’s developer of MacOS Server here. An Enterprise Genius I talked to recently told me that they will listen if many people provide feedback requesting this feature be reinstated. Make sure when you do that you provide feedback for MacOS Server by selecting the app from the Mac Apps section. See my screenshot below:
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