.Mac is not worth it

Posted by Thoughts and Ramblings on Wednesday, February 8, 2006

OK, I was listening to the MacCast and heard a review of iWeb which is part of iLife ‘06. This reminded me that I need to go on .mac rant, as I promised before:

Introduction I have had my .mac account for quite some time now. I had it back when it was free (and called iTools), and continued to use it when it was no longer free. I was content to pay for it at the time since I was reluctant to lose my mac.com email address.

The .mac account offers a few things which I use:

  • @mac.com Email address
  • Web space at homepage.mac.com
  • Sync of data between computers
  • Backup software
  • iDisk

Well, when going down the list, I realized that this all is not worth $100 a year. For the reasons why, I will go down the list:

mac.com email address I realized that I had not given out my mac.com email address to anyone other than two people, so I can afford to tell them to use another email address. I had bought this domain, so any email address in the entire domain which I should choose to pass out is mine, and at a much cheaper price.

Web Space The web space here is very limited. This is by far my biggest gripe with .mac. Static content only, no dynamic content is allowed. Once can edit the pages dynamically through the web-base homepage editor, but this has several severe limitations. I ended up customizing the HTML pages myself and posting them there.

Now Apple seems to have made a switch wanting people to use iWeb instead. If one logs into their .mac account, there are no fewer than three ads (yes, they are ads) for iWeb, and upon entering the homepage editor, they have to click through yet another ad. To add to this, iWeb costs money, as if we are not paying enough for .Mac to begin with. For those who say that iWeb is optional, let’s see what you have to say when Apple gets around to killing the homepage editor, which is consistent with things they have done in the past. On the subject of iWeb, the reviews I have heard are not very glowing. In fact, one person complained that it is limited to only having one file of a particular name, even across multiple sites. Such a stupid limitation which reminds me of the same limitation in iTunes and iPhoto. Then, there was another limitation mentioned about there is no import or export for the files it creates. In addition, you cannot sync between multiple computers, where sync is one of the primary functions of .mac. Lastly, both iWeb and the homepage editor suffer from the fact that they tend to create ugly URL’s. The homepage editor tended to create URL’s along the lines of FileSharing23.html, but iWeb is even worse in creating URL’s which are longer than the width of this page!

Alternative: I bought this virtual private server. I have 5G of disk space, on which I can do whatever I want. Notice, this web server is running apache2 with php. I can even do perl, or anything else I want. Granted, it is a bit more than .Mac, but it gives me a tremendous amount more than .Mac ever has, (or ever will for that matter).

Sync This sync would be a shame to lose, but acceptable. I have something up my sleeve which may elevate this situation. I have figured out nearly the entire protocol with the sync. I am looking at starting an open source project to implement the server side of this, so that other can share in. I was thinking the best solution would be php tied to a MySQL database (despite the horror of some), because it is the most portable since most have setups with these capabilities already. Anyone interesting in working on this, now is the time to chime in.

Backup The backup software can be easily tricked so that it still continues to function. This is done by simply editing one’s host file. Matt Simerson created a great tutorial for accomplishing this.

iDisk The iDisk is horrible slow. It just uses standard WebDav, so it can be pointed to another server and see significant speed increases. See the above tutorial.

Conclusion So, in the end, is .Mac worth it? Sure, it is a great service for many people, and I fully realize that my demands are greater than the average consumer. I question if it is really worth that much, even to them? I say the answer is no. Either way, it is no longer worth it to me, so the account will end in Oct (when the subscription runs out).

Legacy Comments:

Sean - Dec 26, 2007

I agree. .Mac is not worth $100 a year. I purchased it but then realized that I rely primarily on GMail (5GB and counting), iDisk is pathetic on so many levels such as no ability to preview the files (i.e. jpegs, etc.) and it is slow. As a photo junkie, the web gallery is not good at all. What I recommend: Gmail Account- Free and almost 6GB storage Photosharing- Flickr or Photoblog