Is iCloud Advanced Data Protection an okay option?

I am absolutely on board with the idea and ethos of self hosting and definitely want to self host and get off of iCloud but…I want it to be relatively easy, and headache and hassle free. I am not a coder and have no experience with IT/network tech so ideally want something plug and play.

I tried setting up NextCloud on my Raspberry Pi that’s running Start9’s StartOS but immediately ran into some super confusing network errors that I absolutely didn’t want to troubleshoot.

Is iCloud’s Advanced Data Protection/E2EE an ok option until I can get a NAS like a Synology.

Or would Proton Drive, Skiff Drive, Cryptee or Mega be better?

Mainly just need simple minimal file/document storage/sync.

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iCloud Advanced Data Protection is an okay option, however it is closed source unlike Proton Drive and Mega. You will also be making direct connections to Apple to access your data which might be a privacy concern.

Proton Drive has also passed a independent security audit:

I think that all the options that you have listed have problems like; no desktop sync, desktop clients or no independent security audit. So I think Apple’s iCloud is a decent compromise.

You could also check out: Umbrel — The ultimate home server and OS for self-hosting I haven’t had any problems running Umbrel on my Raspberry Pi. You could easily install the Nextcloud app and be up and running.

Hope this helps :smile:


It’s honestly pretty solid. You’re getting E2EE with every Apple service with the exception of Mail, Contacts, and Calendar.

There’s also a nice little privacy suite that starts with a ‘P’ and ends with ‘roton’ which perfectly fills in this missing gap of iCloud.

We covered the nuance of Advanced Data Protection on Techlore Talks so you can see the pros/cons of it, because it does have some shortcomings also which @radiance111 alluded too, like being proprietary:

It won’t beat individual offerings in the privacy space from a safety POV. (Ex. iCloud vs Proton Drive, or iMessage vs Signal)

But what Apple is offering is not really found anywhere else. An almost completely E2EE suite cleanly integrated into your operating system. Nothing like this exists on Android or any other mobile OS.

TLDR: as a broad offering available to anyone I think it’s overall solid. Not a bad place to be whatsoever. But if you need more protection then you’ll need to find individual replacements :ok_hand:


There was also some more nuanced discussion about what Apple encrypts with Advanced Data Protection in this thread:


Thanks Henry!

I was thinking the same thing. It isn’t perfect or ideal or self hosted obvi but is seamless and easy and E2EE (except mail, calendar and contacts). And it is good enough for now I think until I can afford a NAS.

Maybe I will focus on moving to Proton (or Skiff) Mail and Calendar.


It depends what your goals are and what your threat model is. As a general piece of advice, if you are going to ask a question like “Is iCloud’s Advanced Data Protection/E2EE an ok option” don’t ask in the abstract, include in your post (1) a basic explanation of your threat model and a basic explanation of what your goals and main concerns are. It makes it a lot easier to give more targeted advice.

As to iCloud ADP vs other options, here are my general thoughts:

  1. Beware of it’s limitations. ADP brings e2e encryption to most but not all categories of iCloud data. (1) Contacts (2) Calendars (3) E-Mail are not e2ee.
  2. iCloud ADP is not open source and it requires that you trust Apple. But if you are already using an iPhone and/or iCloud you are already implicitly trusting Apple and using closed source software
  3. iCloud ADP like most Apple products and services will further lock you into their ecosystem. Apple services and products tend to be at best indifferent to interoperability and data portability and at worst actively designed to lock users into their ecosystem.
  4. If points 1, 2, and 3 are not dealbreakers for you, ADP may be a reasonable solution if you are already heavily invested in Apple’s ecosystem. Compared to DIY solutions its simpler and takes less thinking to setup, and it is probably harder to screw up. Compared to alternatives like Proton Drive (I don’t have experience with Skiff) it is more featureful and probably much better integrated into iOS.

Other options:

  • Self host Nextcloud (if you try this again, consider trying out Nextcloudpi it could be much easier than the way you tried before)
  • Don’t self host Nextcloud (there are reputable providers you can pay for a hosted nextcloud instance)
  • Alternative privacy first option (Proton, Skiff, Filen, Posteo, Mailbox, Tutanota, are options to investigate).
  • Full on self-hosted services on a home server or VPS

Oh one more thing to add in addition to all the other great responses:

You don’t have to pick this OR that. You can use this AND that. For example:

You can use Signal instead of iMessage, Proton Mail instead of iCloud Mail, and Proton Drive instead of iCloud. But maybe you find no suitable photo storage solution you’re happy with, so you use iCloud Photos. Or maybe syncing your password manager via Proton Drive doesn’t work as smoothly as iCloud. (And the example PWM encrypts the data before it touches the cloud provider anyway) - so you use iCloud for syncing one file.

Just want to highlight there is some middle-ground on a lot of this. Which should also help any transitions you want to make :ok_hand:


Thanks for helping!

Sorry, I could have added more context. Having a bad brain day and a very low bandwidth one and I was typing on my iPad. But this question has been bugging me forever and I have been obsessed with it and banging my head against it for a long while.

Low threat model.

I want something that is:

  • easy/low complexity and plug and play
  • E2EE
  • free, for now
  • ideally something that integrates with Finder/Files
  • ideally big tech free
  • ideally self hosted

I understand iCloud ADP does not meet those last two criteria but it is easy, already set up, E2EE and free.

When I have more money and bandwidth, and if I could do it all over again I would do it differently and without iCloud at all.

But for now, because I need easy and low complexity I am thinking that maybe iCloud is ok for now, until I can get a NAS.

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Makes total sense. But I am kind of an all or nothing/all in kinda of guy. Ultimately and eventually I want to ditch iCloud completely. But for now I think it is the best option for me until I get a NAS or more brain-power/bandwidth and willingness to tackle a complex self hosted set up.

Kinda wishing I could just do everything locally via Finder (iTunes sync) and/or have everything just on my Mac and also go more analog. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to get Mac File Sharing to work.

I wouldn’t consider iCloud or ADP to be “free” at least not more free than any other service with a limited free tier and paid tiers (which would include Proton and Skiff and some Nextcloud offerings)

Apple would never do this (because they want people to use iCloud) but I wish they would come out with a simple Mac based local sync feature and/or a router with build in storage like the the old Airport Routers.

True. Good point. I forget about the cost because I am using as part of a Family Sharing plan.

I am not sure if this is what you are looking for, but you can sync files ,photos, and other stuff using finder wired or wirelessly.


Thanks! I have been doing that for sure.

Sadly it doesn’t really include files. As far as I can tell the only files it lets you sync is from Apple apps like
Pages etc and maybe third party apps that have enabled the feature.