A break in the clouds: when cloud services won’t work

Many of us, particularly at the moment, are heavily reliant on cloud-based services. When they play up – vanishing altogether, or requiring you to keep logging in – there might seem little to be done.

In fact there’s a lot you can do to work out whether it’s your Mac, your internet connection, the internet more generally, or the cloud service itself, which is at fault.

First decide whether this is the only internet service which is playing up. If many or all websites are down and there appear to be more widespread connectivity problems, then you must next rule those out as a cause. Sometimes internet outages affect specific protocols, such as HTTP (web) or HTTPS (secure web), but not others: those are often located in your ISP’s central systems, where different paths may handle different types of traffic. Sometimes these may be reflected in your ISP’s service status page, which is always worth a quick check.

If it looks like the problem might be in your Mac, it’s sometimes helpful to restart in Safe mode, with the Shift key held during startup. This flushes various system caches and should give macOS the best chance to establish connections. Except that Safe mode also disables all third-party extensions, on which your service might depend. It’s useful to know whether the service in question does run normally in Safe mode first.


Another good place to check is the service status page for the service which you are trying to access. In case you didn’t realise it, all the major cloud (and similar) providers have service status pages, some of which provide very fine-grained detail. Here are some links to those which you are most likely to use.

Apple’s general service status.
Apple developer service status, including its Notary Service.
Adobe cloud service status, where you can check details for Creative Cloud.
Microsoft Azure service status.
Amazon AWS service status.
Google Cloud service status.
IBM Cloud service status.
Oracle Cloud Infrastructure service status.

CloudHarmony offers a compendium of different cloud service status information.



Google’s G Suite service status dashboard is here.

Is It Down Right Now? is a useful compilation of information gathered from users for various social media and popular web services.

Inevitably, a green or normal status does not mean that there are no problems, but that the service engineers aren’t aware of any. Most of those pages include support links, to which you can report your problems. This may seem a waste of your time and effort, but it is often the only way that the service gets to know of issues, so if you can, please report.

There is usually little point in trying to use Network Utility (or other general network tools) to try to check whether your connection to a service is good, perhaps using Ping. Cloud and similar services use large and complex networks of servers and routers, to which you generally have no direct access. Pinging http://www.apple.com will tell you precious little about connections with iCloud, for example. If there are internet trunk problems, sometimes Traceroute can be useful, but you could easily be looking at entirely the wrong destination server address, which may well be in the wrong country.

There are also lots of things that can affect your use of a service, which will not normally be reflected in the declared service status. So when you keep having to enter your Apple ID and password, iCloud may apparently be working normally. That’s where it does all get more nebulous: in the case of iCloud, try using my free utility Cirrus and following these instructions.