macOS Sonoma 14.4 Bug 'Destroys Saved Versions in iCloud Drive'

Apple's latest macOS Sonoma 14.4 software update appears to be guilty of another bug, this time affecting saved versions in iCloud Drive.

iCloud Bug Feature Green
Versions are normally created automatically when users save files using apps that work with the version system in macOS. (To check if your Mac is using the past versions system, look for a "Revert To" option in the app's File menu.)

According to The Eclectic Light Company's Howard Oakley, users running macOS 14.4 that have "Optimize Mac Storage" enabled should be aware that they are at risk of losing all previously saved versions of a file if they opt to remove it from iCloud Drive local storage.

In previous versions of macOS, when a file is evicted from local storage in iCloud Drive [using the Remove Download option in the right-click contextual menu], all its saved versions have been preserved. Download that file again from iCloud Drive, and versions saved on that Mac (but not other Macs or devices) have remained fully accessible. Do that in 14.4, and all previous versions are now removed, and lost forever.

Oakley said his own tests confirmed that this behavior does not happen in macOS Sonoma 14.3 or macOS Ventura, so it is exclusive to macOS 14.4. For users who have already updated, he suggests either not saving files to iCloud Drive at all, or turning off Optimize Mac Storage.

To perform the latter in System Settings, click your Apple ID, select iCloud, and then toggle off the switch next to "Optimize Mac Storage." You may need to perform this action twice – reports suggest it can turn back on by itself. For a more exhaustive account of the problem, see Oakley's subsequent post.

There are several bugs reported in macOS 14.4, and we have recorded some of the most prominent issues in a dedicated article that we have updated since this story was published. Have you been affected by the latest bug? Let us know in the comments.

Related Roundup: macOS Sonoma
Related Forum: macOS Sonoma

Top Rated Comments

abatabia Avatar
5 weeks ago
They’re really asleep at the wheel, software wise. Still waiting on the fix for usb hubs being broken and now this. A major reason why my Apple purchases have dropped dramatically. Hardware may be great, the software is ruining the experience.
Score: 40 Votes (Like | Disagree)
StuBeck Avatar
5 weeks ago

That seems the right behavior, if I delete the local copy of a file it's not like I want 20 autosaved copies to stay on the local disk. Autosaved copies are not stored on iCloud, so at the moment that's the right behavior imho.
Its a change from what was occurring in the past, and there is no indication this is anything but a bug. This may be what you want, but it is not what Apple intended. If this is intended, then a change note should have occurred stating this was going to happen.
Score: 31 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nortonandreev Avatar
5 weeks ago
I had all of my iCloud Drive files corrupted a few years ago and since then I have never relied on iCloud. It's a complex system, but I often give it as a bad example.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Account25476 Avatar
5 weeks ago
This is absurd.
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
phenste Avatar
5 weeks ago
christ…so thankful I turned off automatic updates forever ago

That seems the right behavior, if I delete the local copy of a file it's not like I want 20 autosaved copies to stay on the local disk. Autosaved copies are not stored on iCloud, so at the moment that's the right behavior imho.
the issue here is that Apple has found a new way to optimize Mac storage (arguably a good thing), but in the process they’ve destroyed a feature many have come to rely on (autosaving, especially on a local device: makes perfect sense that the copies wouldn’t be stored in iCloud Drive; makes zero sense that copies wouldn’t be stored locally unless you, the user, opted out of that.)

it kinda has the same energy as the whole batterygate situation that’s been discussed to death on this website. Apple put out an update with something that they (ostensibly) consider to be a feature and many others consider to be a bug, without having mentioned it in the release notes. (no, I don’t think this has the same implications as batterygate on ANY level [i.e. an impending class-action], just using it as a comparison)
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Skyuser Avatar
5 weeks ago

According to The Electric Light Company's Howard Oakley ('https://eclecticlight.co/2024/03/18/serious-bug-in-sonoma-14-4-will-destroy-saved-versions-in-icloud-drive/')
To digress for a moment: it is "The Eclectic Light Company", not "Electric" as in the news story. I personally would strongly recommend those who are interested in technical aspects of Macs to take a look at Mr Hoakley's fantastic articles, written with incredible expertise and valuable insights that'll appeal to a wide audience.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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