Do I Want to Renew .Mac?

I signed up for .Mac the day it was announced, before Steve’s RDF had even faded; I thought it was a great idea. When Apple started charging for .Mac, I thought about it briefly, but then paid since it seemed well worth the money to me. I even bought my Mom a .Mac account. Last year, I went ahead and renewed both .Mac accounts, though I did think about it for quite a while. But I was working on a couple of book projects with .Mac connections, so .Mac was still worth the money.

This year, I’m not so sure. The list price for renewing .Mac is $99.95, but you can buy one of the membership kits and renew for less; the best price for the .Mac package is Amazon’s .Mac. The price, which they’re not telling you for marketing reasons, is $80.99, without tax or shipping charges (though the delivery speed isn’t sterling; do it Soon if you’re going that route).

Here’s the .Mac feature and specification description. I have my own web site and domain, with a super hosting company, so the Homepage offerings at .Mac don’t really interest me (though it’s not bad at all if that’s what you need). Virex is no longer part of .Mac and frankly Virex is essentially useless in OS X 10.4 / Tiger. I don’t use the .Mac e-mail much—it’s my throw away e-mail address, but there’s Yahoo and Gmail for that—both with much better storage, and the Gmail interface is spiffy.

My Fabulous Hosting Company—did I mention that they’re Fabulous—provides WebDav support and it works just fine with iCal. The synching of Address Book is certainly nice, as is synching of Safari bookmarks, but I can do that fairly easily via URL Manager Pro or Yahoo’s Web bookmarks, or even Del.icio.us. My Address Book data is also on my iPod and phone, so that’s a non-issue.

I mostly use .Mac for backup, using Apple’s Backup utility, but it’s not exactly reliable. In fact, it’s extraordinary flakey. So I was already a little iffy about renewing—for someone dissertating and trying very hard not to take work that involves anything other than writing or editing or tech editing, $82.00 is, well more than I want to spend casually for remote backup that’s flakey, and that only allows me to backup one computer per account, and with only 250 MB of storage.

But my Fabulous Hosting company, TextDrive has a new venture. It’s called StrongSpace. For $8.00 a month, I can access over 4 Gigs of secure storage, versus .Mac’s 250 MB, of, well storage. I can use Rsync, the friend of Unix developers everywhere, to synch files— and not just my bookmarks and address file, but things like my dissertation files, from whatever computer I’m on.

Another milidly annoying thing with .Mac is that you’re limited to 250 MB total storage, and 3 gig of data transfer per month, with a basic account. For an extra $50.00 I could get 10 Gigs of transfer, and 1 gig of storage on .Mac, but I’m still limited to using Backup on one computer, or drag-and-drop file and version management. Trust me, that’s asking for version control problems. But with StrongSpace, not only will I have lots of room, there are no bandwidth charges. Plus, I can provide secure read-only access to share my data, if I want, to select users with a password. And there are living, breathing, intelligent, and communicative human beings I can contact for help and they respond in intelligent and helpful ways. That’s, well, invaluable.

So I’m going to pass on .Mac and manage to come up with an extra $8.00 a month for Strongspace. You might want to think about it yourself.