Test and check iCloud with Cirrus

If you’re having problems with iCloud, particularly iCloud Drive, there seems to be remarkably little that you can do to find out what is wrong, or how to fix it. Here is a new app, Cirrus, which is a first step along the road to addressing this.

Cirrus can’t yet diagnose iCloud problems, but it obtains carefully selected extracts from the unified log in Sierra and High Sierra which should provide you with clues as to what is going wrong. Unlike generic tools – Console, the log command, and my own Consolation – Cirrus only extracts log entries for those subsystems involved with iCloud, and doesn’t drown you in thousands of entries about graphics and other processes.

The log data are also presented in a way which helps you see exactly what is going on. Entries from each of the subsystems are colour-coded, can be turned off and on without getting fresh log extracts, and focus on the information that you need to see.

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Built into Cirrus are two important features which make this even easier: a test task, and control over how the log handles private data.

The test task which Cirrus can perform for you is copying a 1 MB test file into your iCloud Drive. There’s even a chance that doing so will break the logjam that is delaying your files from being uploaded: this is actually the only specific suggested fix for such problems. Cirrus will also clean up afterwards, with a button to delete copies of the test file from both local and remote storage.

One of the problems with the unified log in Sierra and High Sierra is that it goes out of its way to protect the privacy of data. This is very reassuring (when software developers don’t deliberately circumvent it with very sensitive information!), but greatly reduces the value of log entries, and often makes them impossible to understand or use diagnostically.

Cirrus has a simple checkbox with which you can disable this protection of private data, and enable it again.

This first test version of Cirrus, 1.0b2, is available from here: cirrus10b2
and from Downloads above.

Tomorrow, thanks to its log extracts, I will be detailing how uploads to iCloud Drive work.

Apple does provide one tool which I haven’t mentioned recently, which is intended to “manage the CloudDocs daemon”: brctl. Although this has a verb diagnose which is intended to “diagnose and collect logs”, that appears to be more like sysdiagnose, i.e. a large collection of data for analysis, rather than a diagnosis. Besides, the logs which used to be collected in El Capitan all seem to have been swallowed up in Sierra’s unified log.

Its other verbs don’t seem to be particularly useful to a user, either.