PSA: Do not upgrade to iCloud Drive during iOS 8 installation

iCloud Drive

Today is the day Apple is making iOS 8 available to the public. The latest version of iOS has several new features like widgets and third-party keyboards that make it a must-have upgrade for most iPhone owners. If you are upgrading to iOS 8, there is one "gotcha" during the upgrade process that you must avoid and that is iCloud Drive.

We cannot stress enough how important this is -- if you make a mistake with this iCloud Drive option, you may lose the ability to sync all your files stored in iCloud with your Mac and iOS 7 devices. We are not the only ones warning you -- developers such as Realmac and Day One are issuing similar advisories.

Background on iCloud Drive

iCloud Drive is Apple's new and improved iCloud syncing and file storage feature that allows you to share documents between your iOS 8 devices and your Mac running OS X 10 Yosemite. When you upgrade to iOS 8 and enable iCloud Drive, your documents are migrated from Apple's older iCloud "Documents and Data" sync service to the company's new iCloud Drive service.

iCloud Drive may be a wonderful addition to Apple's ecosystem, but it is NOT COMPATIBLE with older versions of iOS (iOS 7 or earlier) or older versions of OS X (OS X 10.9 Mavericks or earlier). This presents a major problem for iPhone owners with an older iOS device that can't run iOS 8 or those with a Mac as OS X Yosemite is not available publicly yet.

This iCloud Drive option has the greatest potential to trip up Mac owners as many owners are still on OS X Mavericks as it is the most current public release. OS X Yosemite is available only to Mac developers and to users who are participating in Apple's Yosemite Beta program.

What version of OS X am I running?

If you are unsure which version of OS X you are using, then click on the  icon in the upper left corner of your menu bar and select "About This Mac." A dialog box will appear that shows the basic details about your Mac, including the version of OS X that you are running. If you are running OS X Yosemite Beta, it will be stated clearly in the dialog box. If it does not say "OS X Yosemite Beta," then you are still running OS X Mavericks or earlier and should not upgrade to iCloud Drive in iOS 8.

Yosemite Beta

Do not upgrade to iCloud Drive

If any of your devices are running iOS 7 or earlier or your Mac is on OS X 10.9 Mavericks or earlier, then do NOT UPGRADE to iCloud Drive as you will lose the ability to sync your documents that are currently installed in iCloud. If you are not sure, then play it safe by refusing the iCloud Drive upgrade. If you accidentally upgrade, there is no going back and you will not be able to sync your iCloud documents with your Mac until OS X Yosemite debuts later this fall.

What to do during the iOS 8 upgrade

During the upgrade process for iOS 8, you will see an option for iCloud Drive as shown below, please select "Not Now." Once you select, "Not Now" all your iCloud data will remain accessible and all your iCloud-enabled apps will continue to sync data between all your iOS and OS X machines.

iCloud Drive iOS 8

When OS X Yosemite is released later this fall, you then can safely start using iCloud Drive. Until then, avoid it like the plague.

What to do if you accidentally upgrade to iCloud Drive

If you accidentally upgrade to iCloud Drive, don't panic. You cannot go back to the older iCloud "Documents and Data" sync feature , but all is not lost. You have two options -- you can do without iCloud syncing, use your apps on one platform and wait until OS X Yosemite debuts. In this scenario, you could use the Clear task manager on your iPhone and not use the Mac version of the app until Yosemite is available publicly.

Most people, though, can't do without iCloud syncing and need to restore the feature as soon as possible. These users should apply for Apple's OS X Yosemite Beta program and update their Mac to the beta version of OS X as soon as possible. They also should upgrade all their iOS devices to iOS 8 so they can sync data between their iPhones and iPads. Once all devices are running OS X Yosemite and iOS 8, then syncing across platforms should be back up and running.