It’s happened to all of us. We accidentally delete a file prematurely. In fact, it happened to me the other day. I was moving files from iCloud to my Mac and then on to an external hard drive for archival purposes.
I was going too fast and deleting files left and right without really looking at the dialog boxes. In this case, the file I accidentally deleted was stored only on iCloud.
Worse that that, it was a whole folder of Numbers files that were stored only on iCloud.
Great. Now what?
Fortunately, I remembered reading an article online about recovering files from iCloud. I dug up the article and glanced at its accompanying screenshot. I fired up iCloud.com in Safari, and the link I was looking for wasn’t there. Before reading the update to the article (which would have been helpful), I located the link farther down the page, in the lower left-hand corner of the Settings window.
Clicking Restore Files brings up a list of files (there are options for contacts, bookmarks, and other data). iCloud holds on to files you delete for 30 days before they automatically disappear forever.
So I took a scroll through the list…but the files weren’t there.
I’m relatively confident that if I had waited a few minutes the files eventually would have shown up. But in a state of mild panic, who has time for patience? Recovering accidentally deleted files is akin to the magic involved in removing handcuffs while submerged underwater. It just feels like it’s a really good idea to try to accomplish this task sooner rather than later.
(As an aside, this might have been a good time for my Apple Watch to have tapped me on the wrist and launched the Breathe app. But it did not–so either I was calmer than I appeared or the engineering wizards haven’t yet factored in anxiety level to the Watch sensors.)
Then I recalled that files stored in iCloud were also simultaneously stored on my Mac.
Rather than dig around on the web to divine their secret location, I selected iCloud Drive in the sidebar of a Finder window, entered Time Machine, browsed back in time a couple of days, and voilà: The files!
Selecting the missing files followed by a quick click of the Restore button got me back in business. Crisis averted.
It also occurred to me later that I could have retrieved the files from my external online backup (Backblaze, if you’re wondering), but that would have required me to find out where the files were stored and taken longer to restore.
So, the morals of our story:
- Slow down when deleting files.
- If you’ve got backups, don’t panic.
- Have a local backup (Apple’s built-in Time Machine is incredibly easy–set it and forget it) and, just as importantly, know how to recover a local backup of anything stored online.
- Have an online backup in a different location of anything you store online.
What do you use to back up your files?
What’s your backup strategy (you do have one, don’t you?) and how has it saved your bacon? Let me know in the comments section.