Why the “cloud” is actually safe.

For the sake of this blog post, I’ll be talking about the “cloud” as any service like iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, or others that sync your stuff from your Mac to another computer or website somewhere else in the world (usually America).

A question I get all the time from clients: “is the cloud safe?”

I usually say “yes and no. That depends on how you want to use it, how safe you want to be, and your knowledge and habits around staying safe.”

Here’s why it might seem unsafe: There’s a lot of fear and misunderstanding around the cloud because of some stories of things that happened in the media. Famous people had their nude photos leaked. Some big company had their system breached. People say they lost info because of the cloud.

The truth is these cases are extremely rare proportionally compared to the number of people who use a cloud. There are 100 million Macs in use in the world. There are 850 million people using iCloud. How many different news articles have you read, or stories have you heard, from people who have been “hacked”? Let’s say it’s ten. That means the chances of being hacked are 0.00000118%.

My belief is that most if not all “hacks” into famous peoples’ accounts are a result of someone close to them knowing their password. Someone they pissed off who holds a grudge and wants to hurt their reputation somehow. They may not even remember having given their password (or told their dog’s name and birth year!) to someone. If you have someone close to you who knows your password and wants to get back at you for something they think you did, I recommend changing your password. Any website or service that uses that password they know should be updated.

These days all the big cloud services have something called “two factor authentication.” Essentially that means even if some scoundrel knows or guesses your password and tries to get in to your account, once they type the password, they will see a screen that says “a 6 digit number has been sent to the cell phone on file. What is that 6 digit number?” And because that scoundrel’s cell number is not the one on your file, they won’t get the code. You will. Not only that, you will see this message on your iPhone saying someone is trying to log in… and you can be a savvy internet user and change your cloud password (or ask us for help to do this!).

All this to say, if you have your info in a cloud and you’ve set things up correctly and someone wants to get in, here’s what circumstances would need to be present for them to get in:

The intruder would need to know your password. They would need to be holding your iPhone to receive the 6 digit number. They would need to type it. And they would need some kind of motive – some reason or some goal – for what to do with your personal info once they have it. AND you would need to somehow allow them to have your iPhone or you would need to be forced into this situation.

If you might get into this kind of situation, you have bigger problems on hand and should probably put your personal info on a USB stick and hide it in an air duct.

What’s wrong with you?

“You shouldn’t have so many photos, or duplicates of those photos.”
“Your Desktop shouldn’t be such a mess.”
“You forgot your password… again?!?”
“This Mac stuff is basic, and it’s easy. You should know this.”
“You should be more on top of this! Why don’t you know this yet?”
“Why aren’t you organized yet?”
FINE, I will explain it again.” … *long, condescending sigh*

What’s wrong with you?” — or some version of that — is always the implication.

It seems as though most people have a condescending, egotistical, impatient jerk of a computer guy in their mental “peanut gallery.” Watching, judging, sneering.

What’s wrong with him?

Have you ever…

…had someone say to you “it’s normal that you don’t know this, it’s totally fine. I’ll show you how to do it and we can practice together. It’s also normal that you will forget how to do it as soon as I leave so I will make you some notes, and I’m happy to hear from you and send a reminder and explain in different ways. Here, I’ll make you a video.“

…had someone say to you “it is okay and understandable to be nervous about the Cloud. Let’s talk about that for as long as you want, and we’ll either make sure you understand how to stay safe online or we’ll get all your stuff out of the Cloud.”

…had someone say to you “this mess and chaos and disorganization in your Mac is normal because you’re busy and organizing a Mac is actually not that easy. It requires 20-30 micro-skills that need to be put together and used with time, discipline, and intention. No problem. It’s just some new skills and some new muscles. Let’s get started.”

Here are some very normal and understandable feelings about your technology:

  • Nervous about the Cloud and being online in general
  • Shame and self-judgment about not knowing how to do something “basic” or “obvious”
  • Mad at yourself for avoiding or procrastinating on some cleanup/organizing task
  • Feeling like you should have done X by now, or you should know X by now
  • Worried about “is this the right decision / service / hardware for me”
  • Stress about all the time you’re wasting inefficiently looking for files you need
  • Denial and avoidance about whether you’re backed up enough
  • Performance anxiety now or about the future; you need to know how to do something and PEOPLE WILL BE WATCHING
  • General dislike of technology while knowing you’re totally dependent upon it

Have you ever had someone say to you “yep, those feelings are normal. Tell me more, so I fully understand”?

I want all Mac users to get this kind of help, care, and advice – in addition to getting the tech problems solved. I believe all consultants should strive to be this way.

I strive to be this way.

Your tech person should help you make sure decisions are right for you. They should get things working better, teach you what you need to know, make a tutorial video, and be ready for your text messages when you forget everything you talked about.

If you’re someone looking for that kind of help, get in touch. If you agree or disagree, comment below. If you’re a consultant wanting to learn to work this way, get in touch.

Your Mac issues, stress, anxiety, tech-shame, avoidance, denial, and worries will be things of the past.

No, you should not already know this

I hear this several times per week followed by a technical question: “I should know this, but…”

When your Mac or your iPhone is giving you grief, impeding the work you’re trying to do, or acting up; it’s extremely frustrating.

Even worse is when it seems like what you’re trying to do should be simple — and you knew how to do it — but now it’s not working. You feel like you should know how to solve this! 

“It’s simple!” they advertise. “It’s intuitive!” they proclaim.


Everything grinds to a halt and you’re mired in techno-quicksand for several minutes… or even hours.

Maybe technology used to be simpler in past years, or maybe the work you were doing back then kept you more engaged in the technical world. Now, you have much more important work to do! Further, while you are busier with work that is more important, the world around you has invented ten new categories of gadgets and fifteen different clouds.

You would probably want the same photos you see on your Mac to show up on your AppleTV downstairs, right? Maybe you would want the same text messages that you sent from your iPhone to show up on your Mac and iPad? You would certainly want to have quick access to your Word documents from any device.

While these may be simple things to ask for — and simple to enjoy once setup — getting there can be a huge pain in the ass without professional help.

No, you should not already know how to solve and troubleshoot these issues. Cut yourself some slack and get a pro in there so you can get back to sipping lattes and creating the lifestyle you want.

What is “backup”?

Several times per week I have clients tell me they backed something up, when in fact they have not. They truly believe they have made their precious files and photos safe! When I reveal to them that they have not, they’re mortified.

Putting your photos into the cloud does not mean they’re backed up. If they are only in the cloud and not also on your Mac, they’re at risk. Putting a precious thesis draft onto a USB stick is not necessarily a backup. If you make any changes to the thesis on the Mac, those changes are at risk until the USB stick gets updated with the latest version. Putting a copy of your business receipts and financials onto an external hard drive may or may not be a backup. If you update those files and don’t have the Mac automatically updating the external hard drive, those files are at risk.

“Backup” means: The best and most recent version of your file is in two “containers” at the same time.

What do I mean by “containers”? Let’s use Tupperware and paper as an example. Let’s say you received a letter from a loved one, and it’s precious. For the letter to be backed up, you would need to: make a photocopy of the letter, put the original letter into one Tupperware container, put the photocopy into a second Tupperware container, then bring the second one to your mom’s house and stick it in a closet. THAT is backup. Your house — or your mom’s house, heaven forbid — could go up in flames and you will still have one copy of your letter.

If the most recent file of your file is on BOTH your Mac and also on a USB stick (ie. two “containers”), then it’s backed up. If your most current photos are on BOTH your Mac and also in the cloud (yes, the cloud is just another type of “container”), then they’re backed up. If those financials you’ve agonized over are in Dropbox AND on an external hard drive, they’re backed up. Best of all? They’re on your Mac, and in Dropbox, and automatically updating to an external hard drive.

Most people need help with making all of that happen automatically, and in a way that keeps the most recent changes to the files up-to-date between two or more “containers.”

That’s where we come in. Hire a pro to help you with your backup! Call Macinhome.

No, we don’t sell Tupperware.