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iCloud tips

November 14, 2012

aticon57 mricon57 hlicon57

Most of my apps support iCloud for sharing backup files between devices (and Account Tracker supports syncing too). Here are some tips for setting it up, and making sure it is working.

1. On each device, go to the main Settings app and select the iCloud row. Make sure you are using the same iCloud account, and that you have space available (under Storage).

2a. If you are NOT using iCloud Drive … make sure Documents & Data is ON, and that my app is listed and enabled. If you want iCloud to work over your cellular data network, make sure Use Cellular Data is ON.

2b. If you ARE using iCloud Drive … make sure this is enabled on ALL devices, and that my app is also listed and enabled. Note that iCloud Drive is incompatible with previous implementations.

3. On your first device (e.g. your iPad), go to the Settings screen in my app and enable iCloud (you only have to do this once). Now go to the Backups screen, and make sure the title at the top says iCloud. Make a backup (Backup Now).

If you get an error saying access to iCloud failed, simply go back to the Settings screen, and then back to the Backups screen.

4. On your second device (e.g. your iPhone), go to the settings screen in my app and enable iCloud (you only have to do this once). Now go to the Backups screen, and make sure the title at the top says iCloud. The list of files shown should include the backup you made in step 3, but the file will be shown in grey (meaning it is available in iCloud but not copied to the app yet).

5. If the file is not listed, periodically tap the refresh button at the top left (it might look like nothing is happening, but the refresh is VERY quick). iCloud can be slow, so it can take a while (sometimes a few minutes).

6. Select the greyed out backup file and choose Restore Backup. The file will be copied, verified and restored.

If this isn’t working as expected, there are a few steps you can take to see what is happening.

7. On the sending device, go to the main Settings app, select iCloud, then Storage (& Backup), then Manage Storage. Make sure my app is listed. Select it and make sure the newly created backup file is listed.

8. On the receiving device, do the same.

9. Finally on the receiving device in my app, check the Backups screen to make sure the file is listed there.

If it is still not working, try rebooting your device. This has helped a couple of people, and clearly points to an iOS issue. 😦

You might now be asking why I use iCloud! Well, it usually works very well (albeit slowly) and I like the way files are copied between devices automatically. Far better than fiddling around with bluetooth, WiFi or iTunes file sharing!

  1. Leon lloyd
    December 12, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    Hi Graham, great app it’s very useful and easy to use. I’m having a problem syncing. I have updated my iPhone to iOS 8.1 (secondary) and run your recent update, but syncing has now stopped. Followed your tips and restarted but still no joy…. Any ideas?

    • December 12, 2014 at 10:15 pm

      Hi Leon, you haven’t said whether you are using personal or family syncing. iOS 8 and 8.1 are very buggy – you need to update to the latest (8.1.2). You also haven’t said what is wrong. Feel free to use the contact page to let me know.

      • Leon Lloyd
        December 13, 2014 at 9:41 am

        Thanks for your swift reply. I’m using personal sync. The problem is after adding new transactions to either device it does not sync to the other device. I’ve got around it by exporting a back up just wondered what the problem is. I’ll update to 8.1.2 and see if that helps.

        • December 13, 2014 at 9:44 am

          It’s probably just iCloud being slow. It usually takes seconds, but last week it was stuck for at least a half day.

          • Leon Lloyd
            December 13, 2014 at 9:50 am

            Does it make any difference if the devices are running different iOS versions?

            • December 13, 2014 at 9:55 am

              It shouldn’t, however Apple’s iCloud code is quite buggy and they fix issues in every update. 8.0 and 8.1 were pretty bad, 8.1.1 better. You need to be running the latest.

  2. Richard
    October 19, 2014 at 9:15 am

    Hi Graham – firstly thanks for an amazing app (Meters). Can’t tell you how useful it has become. Thanks also for doing such a great job supporting your customers.

    I too am having some iCloud sync issues. Using an iPhone 5s and iPad Air, both running iOS 8.0.2 and using iCloud drive.

    I followed your troubleshooting tips above; what I notice is that all seems to be as expected with the sending device (iPhone) but the iCloud backups don’t show up on the iPad. When I go into “Manage Storage” on the iPad, the backups appear as “Encrypted File” – presumably the cause of the issue?

    Any thoughts very welcome…


    • October 19, 2014 at 5:12 pm

      Hi Richard, I believe this is something to do with FileVault messing up the files on iCloud Drive. Its surely an Apple bug because it has not right to mess with files stored on other devices. How is my iOS app meant to know what to do with a file it didn’t encrypt?

  3. October 4, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    Thanks Graham that’s ace. Great app. Just updated to iOS 8 and found that I had to set up a sync again. Now it’s all working perfectly between my two devices.

  4. Philip Britton
    September 20, 2014 at 2:33 am

    I have followed all of the steps and sync still does not work following my upgrade to iOS 8. I am using an IPhone 5, an iPad 2 and an iPad mini with retina screen

    • September 20, 2014 at 9:12 am

      Hi Philip, did you migrate to iCloud Drive? If so this is not supported as its a completely different API and not compatible with devices not running iOS 8 or Yosemite.

  5. Stephen Sears
    August 9, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    Brilliant support page. Thank you. I now have my hill list data on both iPhone and iPad.

  6. Peter Kershaw
    April 28, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    Graham – great app, really helps with the budgets in these austere times (pity it doesn’t print more money for us all though)! My primary device is iPod v4 (easier to enter transactions when out & about) with iPad mini as secondary (better for looking at bigger picture). My syncing was ok until a week ago, then stopped. Tried suggestions above, but only rebooting both devices worked.

    But when I was at step 3 above, I also forced an iCloud backup & refreshed, but my recent backups weren’t showing in iCloud on either device, so I couldn’t do step 4 onwards anyway. But the recent backups all showed up in iCloud immediately after the reboot. That suggests iOS or iCloud issue?

    But a couple of thoughts – I am right to think its OK to (1) enter transactions in either device (as syncing is both ways?) & (2) do backups on both devices (filename is effectively a date-stamp) so only issue is iCloud storage limit for latter?


    Peter K

    • April 28, 2014 at 8:37 pm

      Hi Peter, yes, it’s an iOS or iCloud issue. Yes you can enter transactions on any device. It doesn’t matter which device you backup on, but it probably makes sense to just do this on one main device.

  7. Michael
    April 4, 2014 at 10:59 am

    Hi Graham,

    I have tried several times to follow the protocol you specified to sort out the iCloud sync issue and in the end eve deleted the app, re-installed it and tried it all again and no cigar. an other ideas? I can only use the app on my primary device, it just steadfastly refuses to sync

    • April 4, 2014 at 6:11 pm

      Hi Michael, did you restart your device, as that tends to fix iOS bugs. What symptoms are you seeing?

  8. Alison
    February 2, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    Hello. I’ve used your app on my iphone for almost 2 years. I do like it and the new upgrade is nice and light in appearance. However , I also have an ipad. The iphone is my primary device and ipad is my secondary. The entire updating/syncing is a complete nightmare. Because of that, on the whole I just don’t use my ipad which is disappointing. The correct info is never there. I’ve just tried today to set it all up from scratch again and I’ve been waiting ages for icloud to show the backup file on my ipad that I’ve just done on my iphone. Is it supposed to be this traumatic?!?! I’m not sure if I’ve bought the in app purchase previously. Would this help? I want to make entries mainly on my iphone but sometimes I want to do them on my ipad. I want to see the same information on the ipad. What’s been happening previously is that I do a back up. It’s comes up on my ipad. I do a few transactions on my iphone and they don’t show up on my ipad unless I’ve done the back up on my ipad first. Is this how the icloud works? I want to continue with this app but I need to be able to use it seamlessly between the two devices. Any advice? Thanks

    • February 2, 2014 at 2:24 pm

      Hi Alison, if you haven’t bought the iCloud syncing in-app purchase, then your devices won’t sync with each other.
      The only way to do this is by manually backing up on one device and restoring it on the other. There are many ways to copy the backup file between the two devices, but iCloud is easiest. If you have enabled iCloud in my app on each device, just backup on your main device and a few seconds later the backup should appear on the backups screen of the other. If you are sitting on that screen waiting, you need to tap the refresh button to refresh the display periodically. If this doesn’t seem to work, you need to follow my iCloud tips post one step at a time to figure out what is wrong. Let me know which step it fails at.
      You shouldn’t bother with the in-app purchase until you can get this basic use of iCloud working. Once you have backups working, then the in-app purchase is worthwhile as it will do everything for you behind the scenes.

  9. Atul
    January 8, 2014 at 11:10 am

    Hi Graham
    As a user of both Account Tracker and Meter Readings with synching enabled across devices for both apps, I have noticed something. On Account Tracker it alerts me to perform a synch. On Meter Readings, it asks me if I want to restore a file (assuming it is the latest file on one of the devices. Am I doing something wrong here?

    • January 8, 2014 at 6:48 pm

      Hi Atul, this is a good question. The two sync solutions are vastly different, mainly because the requirements for each app are different. For account tracker, the data changes frequently, and on different devices. Syncing is done at the transaction and account level. Whereas for Meter Readings (and my Hill Lists app) you tend to enter the data on one device and you just want the other device to have the latest. The latter is done by 1) automatically making a new backup when something changes, and 2) the other device noticing that there is a new backup available and giving you the choice to restore it.

  10. Lynne
    August 25, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    Had terrible trouble trying to do an initial sync with iCloud going through all your steps without success. Decided to try drop box instead and it worked like a dream. All my data there in seconds!

    • August 25, 2013 at 7:44 pm

      Hi Lynne, do you really mean syncing? I don’t support syncing over Dropbox at all, only passing backup files around manually, which you can also do over iCloud.

  11. Linda Morgan
    July 16, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    Hi Graham I love the accounts for iOS app and have use no probs up to now. Sync has stopped working via iCloud. Followed advice and I note app no longer listed under iCloud. How do I get it back on the list. I paid for iCloud storage and have 6 Gb remaining. Syn doesn’t work going either way on devices. I’m not very technical! Thanks Linda

    • July 16, 2013 at 9:32 pm

      Hi Lina, have you tried rebooting your devices (turning them off and on again)? This often fixes bugs in iOS (and iCloud has a good few!).

      • Linda Morgan
        July 16, 2013 at 10:38 pm

        Graham I can’t thank you enough! A reply – within 2 mins that worked! What a relief! Kind Regards Linda

  12. Jaegean
    June 10, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    Hi, great app, thanks! It is now one of my most used apps. Is it possible to have a button to force a sync between 2 devices please? At the moment I rely on opening and closing the app to sync – or am I doing something wrong?

    • June 10, 2013 at 6:27 pm

      Hi, no it’s impossible in fact. You can’t sync anything if the app isn’t running, and iCloud simply takes time to transfer data between devices. The app will sync immediately on receipt – there is nothing I can do to speed things up.

  13. Chris Long
    May 15, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    Hi Graham,

    I have had your account tracker app for over 12 months now and without doubt it is the very best app I have ever used on my iPhone. I have just bought a new iPad and have installed account tracker on it. I would like to sync both with each other via iCloud, I am right in thinking that this facility is not yet available on account tracker ??

    • May 15, 2013 at 8:16 pm

      Hi Chris, it is supported via an in-app purchase.

  14. Jon
    May 13, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    Sorry to drag up an old topic but I’ve tried everything listed and I can’t get this to work…

    In point 7 it states to check settings and to ‘select it’. I can see it, but only when I select the backup (so another level down from the “manage storage” click). It’s not there under the ‘documents & data heading’… Any tips on what I need to do to get it to show up there?


    • May 13, 2013 at 9:14 pm

      Hi Jon, by select “it” I mean select my app. You should see any newly create backup files listed. If so, that step is working fine.

      • Jon clements
        May 14, 2013 at 1:57 pm

        No backups showing at all. If I click; settings/iCloud/storage & backup / manage storage then I can see three apps (for example, keynote is there) and I can click on them and see the backup files. None of these apps are Accounts though.
        Is there a solution for step 7 failing?

        If I drill down another level by selecting my iphone under the ‘backups’ heading to get the list of all apps I can see the Accounts app is there and on but in this menu you cannot select apps, simply switch backups on or off for each app.

        • May 14, 2013 at 6:52 pm

          Hi Jon, Apple apps work by default, other apps may not. Have you got “Documents and Data” turned on in your iCloud settings, which is a requirement? If so have you actually made a backup from my app with iCloud enabled? You latter point is nothing to do with iCloud storage – its just the contents of your main device backup.

  15. Kevin Dealin
    April 24, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    Hi Graham,
    Had problems syncing and tried all your advice but nothing seemed to work. Then I got to the bit that said reboot if all else fails. Rebooted iPhone and iPad and hey presto! Immediate syncing. Thanks!!
    Great app by the way!!!

  16. Mike Ross
    March 18, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    Hi Graham, I have enjoyed using your app and when the ability to sync between devices came out, the great got even better! I have had an issue with being able to sync since the 7 March. I tried several different solutions before looking in your guide and I wish I had looked there first. Spot on guidance to resolve the problem.

    Keep up the great work.

    • March 18, 2013 at 6:37 pm

      Hi Mike, yes, iCloud can be a bit temperamental at times and clearly I rely on it for syncing to work. Thanks for letting me know.

  17. Pink
    February 17, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    Had your app for several months but just used it on my iphone. I was quite worried about syncing etc in case I lost info. Well, I bought the icloud app today and synced it! Your notes were very helpful. Now that I have info on both my ipad and iphone and the settings are both for icloud is that it? Nothing special I need to do in future to make sure I’m backing up in the best way? Thanks

    • February 17, 2013 at 12:56 pm

      Hi, yes that’s pretty much it. You might still want to make a backup once in a while, even though your info is on two devices.

  18. Thomas Lykke
    January 19, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    Is the Meter Readings app allso gelting syncing between two devices? And when?

    • January 19, 2013 at 6:05 pm

      Hi Thomas, it already has it, and has had for some time. It is part of the Power User upgrade, where changes are automatically backed up to iCloud and you are notified on other devices to install it. Meter Readings is far simpler than Account Tracker as you typically always know where you have made changes, and these happen infrequently.

  19. January 14, 2013 at 10:48 pm

    Hi, do you know if this problem with iCloud is now meant to be fixed? My sync was working perfectly between my ipad and iphone until Dec 27th. Now my ipad is stuck on last synced 27/12/2012 and my iphone is on last synced 08/01/2013 and no changes are syncing between the devices. The ipad is my primary device. Is there any way to force it to do a sync? Up until this issue the sync has been working perfectly so thanks for adding the functionality into the already brilliant app. Cheers, Steve

    • January 14, 2013 at 10:56 pm


      Yes it was fixed by Apple on 3rd Jan. Note that the last sync text is only updated when a device receives updates from another, so it’s quite possible (likely even) for the two to be very different.

      Have you looked at the sync log to see what changes each device has made?

      Given that your iPad has not received changes since before the iCloud outage, you might want to disable syncing and re-enable it.


      Sent from my iPad

      • January 14, 2013 at 11:23 pm

        Thanks, that’s fixed it. The sync logs on both devices were showing all of the missing changes from each of the devices in the table with a white background which i believe means that they should have merged but hadn’t. Thanks for your help.

        • January 14, 2013 at 11:27 pm


          If the sync log was showing things with a white background, those changes were either written by that device, or they HAVE been merged from another device. The log tells you which device made the change.

          You need to look at when the last change was made on each device, and see if changes have been made since then.

  20. Pete Batho
    January 1, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    Doh! Should have checked your website first Graham. Just spent an hour trying to sync my accounts across iCloud. I even disabled and enabled the sync. Seems like I have to wait for Aplle to catch up now. Thanks again for a freat app. The sync ability is the icing on the cake (when it works) Come on Apple. Get it sorted. Pte

    • January 1, 2013 at 12:32 pm

      Hi Pete, its a bit of a weird problem. Clearly I haven’t changed a thing, yet what was working on the 30th is now not. It seems the files get copied between devices ok, but I can’t read them because iCloud is still holding a write lock (as if they aren’t completing their side properly). I am hoping it will start working at some stage, but that might take them days to sort out!

  21. David
    December 31, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    Thanks Graham i didn’t expect such a prompt reply and missed your earlier response.
    I’ll try again later…cheers

  22. David
    December 31, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    Sorry, an update to my earlier comment. I just noticed that it goes into a ‘copying’ process and this is displayed at the top banner. It stalls at this although the little status wheel keeps spinning.

    • December 31, 2012 at 7:45 pm

      Hi David, yes this points to an iCloud problem (although Apple aren’t admitting to one). All I can say is keep trying from time to time.

  23. David
    December 31, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    Hi, the App is great and replaces my Excel spreadsheet used over many years. I’ve been using on my Ipad and now want to access from my iphone too. I followed the instructions using Icloud and can see the backup at my iphone and i press restore…but the data doesn’t transfer to the Iphone? I dont get any error messages…just no data.

    • December 31, 2012 at 7:22 pm

      Hi David, is is stuck at the Copying stage, where it is trying to copy the file from iCloud to your device so it can restore it? If so, there seems to be a more widely reported issue with iCloud just today (31st December) which might explain this. All I can suggest is to keep trying from time to time.

  24. ffcphone
    December 18, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    Been using this app for some years and you may remember, Graham, my feature recommendation for syncing between devices back then. You were initially concerned at keeping devices up to date.

    Having now bought iCloud syncing, would it be possible to enable automatic syncing on app startup rather than manually having to do this. I appreciate it may only be a button press or two but having my device do this automatically would be far more useful.

    And so far, FYI, iCloud sync is working very promptly and well.

    • December 18, 2012 at 5:40 pm

      Hi, its not really possible to do that, as I have no control over how long that might take. Basically I spot the fact that a file has changed quickly enough, but then it might have to be pulled from iCloud. It could easily be minutes! I therefore decided to make it more explicit when changes were ready to be merged, so that you know something has happened on another device.

  25. steveneil
    December 11, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    Pondering ordering your paid app to run on 2 iPhones and an iPad (1st generation). Will set up the same iCloud account on each device for sync purposes. If my wife purchases gas, groceries etc and I’m heading out and hit the pump or grocery store 10 min later, will the budget category update in real time (as iCloud does with contacts, appts etc 1-2min) or will there be a delay? How long? Thx

    • December 11, 2012 at 6:17 pm

      Hi, the current version of my app doesn’t support syncing, but this is coming as an in-app purchase in v3.9 in the next few days. Using that, and assuming you have enabled iCloud to work over your cellular data network, when one person changes something and then closes the app, the other person should see it in minutes, possibly faster. However you are at the mercy of iCloud, so sometimes it could take a lot longer.

      • December 11, 2012 at 10:08 pm

        Thanks. Sounds like it’d be worth waiting for a week or so… Will check the site on Tues to see how progress is going for you and if it comes sooner and you think to ping me (would be grateful for that) I’ll make the move immediately. Appreciate it, Graham.


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