We’re receiving numerous reports from disgruntled users claiming iCloud deleted their documents from iWork apps on their iPhones, iPod touches and iPads after restarting devices. Worse, documents from the Pages, Numbers and Keynote iOS apps are also wiped out from the iCloud servers and cannot be found using the web interface. Sure enough, a bunch of threads on Apple’s Support Communities site (here and here) highlight the issue which affects an unknown portion of users.

A forum user NickFro describes the catastrophic bug:

I can reliably reproduce the error as follows. Create a document in Numbers on an iOS device, or upload to iCloud.com manually. Wait for sync. Restart iOS device. Launch Numbers. The document will be deleted. If you have iCloud.com open, the file will still appear but clicking on it generates a “File not present on server” error. Pretty serious bug, but I can’t tell if it’s in iCloud or the iWork apps. Or both.

He also offers this remedy:

Delete the iCloud account at both the main level of Settings (i.e., by selecting iCloud) AND by deleting the account in the Mail, Calenders, and Contacts section of Settings. Have it remove everything from your device. Once it’s done. Go to the main level, select iCloud, and re-enable your account there and set all settings there for sync. Let the sync happen.

If that didn’t help, try the solutions described here and here.

If you backup your iOS devices with iTunes instead with iCloud, you’re in luck: Just restore to a device backup containing your files and launch Pages, Keynote or Numbers on your device – but don’t enable iCloud in any of those apps. As you know, iTunes creates a device backup at each sync (unless iCloud backup is enabled in iTunes or Settings on your device). This lets you use Time Machine to go back in time and retrieve a specific backup file containing your device’s settings, app data, documents and more. The affected users who enabled iCloud Backup on their device (Settings > iCloud > Storage and Backup) are in a much worse situation as any document created on their device and synced with iCloud gets deleted from both places without a warning, as shown in the below clip.

For some, the problem stems from migrating MobileMe accounts to the iCloud ones so deactivating the “old” MobileMe account on every iOS device, Mac or PC should help.

According to a forum user Felix Leiter:

As long as there is still one machine with a functioning “MobileMe” in the System Preferences, this will erase all files on startup. I found it out when I turned on my wife’s machine, having forgotten that I had created a temporary user account there to store some of my MobileMe information. As soon as I switched to that user account, zap!, all iWork files disappear. Now that all former MobileMe panels have been deactivated, the remote reset is no longer occurring. or at least so it seems.

For others, iWork documents are disappearing upon syncing with a computer, too. This happens after a document has been created on an iOS device or uploaded from the computer. Here’s one possible remedy…

If you uploaded documents to iCloud using the web interface or iWork apps on your Mac, use the Finder’s Go To Folder option in the Go menu and type in /users/USER/Library/Mobile Documents/ (replace USER with your user name in Mac OS X). You should see com~apple~appname folders, each containing documents from iWork apps on the Mac that have been shared with iWork.com and accessible via the iCloud web interface. Note the iWork suite on the Mac has not been updated with iCloud integration for seamless syncing between mobile and desktop. If it’s any help, make sure that the latest iOS 5 version is installed on all your mobile devices, that you run iTunes 10.5 or higher and have updated iWork apps on your Mac and iOS devices via Mac App Store and App Store/iTunes.

Another handy tip:

Whatever you do, don’t edit iWork documents simultaneously and always close the document on one device (and let the app sync it with iCloud) before picking it up on the other. We’ve seen incidents like this happen to other online services. Each time, we’re reminded that one should never trust the cloud exclusively for one’s daily productivity. A prudent backup strategy should always involve a clever combination of cloud syncing and backing up your devices locally, through iTunes. This allows you to use Time Machine (you’re using Time Machine, right?) to browse a timeline of device backups should you ever need to roll back to an earlier state.

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