Do You Have a .Mac Account?

CNNET News features an article by Tom Krazit today entitled ‘Apple missing golden .Mac opportunity’. Krazit argues that Apple has missed an opportunity with .Mac, and has some suggestions for revamping the service:

For example, if $49 a year granted you access to 20GBs of online storage, unlimited photo sharing on a Web page you designed, and unique capabilities such as Back to My Mac, you might be more willing to pay the equivalent of four bucks a month. Use the same service to link iPhones and iPod Touches with Macs, and you increase the value of each device, while also giving users a reason to buy both their handheld and desk-bound computers from Apple.

Or, Apple could give away a free year of .Mac service with the purchase of a new Mac. That’s the drug-dealer strategy: the first one is free. After that, once you’ve put all your images and videos on the .Mac service, $49 a year won’t seem like much to keep that service running. Apple does provide a 60-day trial period for .Mac services, but that’s not enough to get hooked.

For the uninitiated, a .Mac account costs $99 per year, and gets you the following main benefits:

  • Easy posting of photos and videos space on Apple’s servers.
  • 10 GB of online storage.
  • Virtual access to your Mac from any other Mac.
  • Integration with the Apple iLife suite.

Do you have an .Mac account?

I don’t. I can see how it would be convenient, but $10/GB per year always struck me as exorbitant for online backup.

Besides, our requirements for online storage run to, I don’t know, 200 GB. Plus, our 5000-odd photos are already backed up on Flickr and my 8000-odd songs are backed up on MP3Tunes.

I’m still looking for a well-priced, reliable backup option for our Macs. We tried Mozy’s beta program, but it failed miserably.


  1. I have .Mac. It is convenient for exchanging files with my podcast co-hosts, and the most useful feature is the syncing of Safari bookmarks, Mail accounts, and so on. Is it really worth the money? Probably not. But I keep it out of inertia.

    Incidentally, .Mac is $10 cheaper for U.S. customers than for Canadians, but you can easily save that money by temporarily changing your .Mac/Apple account location to a made-up U.S. address, renewing .Mac, and then switching back, which is what I’ve done.

    If you have a U.S. address to ship to, you can renew .Mac at Amazon for $70 USD instead of $100.

    Still probably too much money, but hey.

  2. I have an account, but I don’t use it much beyond a backup source for things like contacts and the web galleries for non-flickr-ing friends and family.

    I kind of keep waiting for the other shoe to drop with .mac, and wonder if the iphone update will be that moment when it becomes a really cool personal cloud with perfect automatic synching, but I won’t hold my breath on it either.

  3. I have an account and, like Derek, find the synching between many Macs and my .mac the single best feature. I run 8 email accounts and have close to 1,000 contacts in my address book. Backing those up every day, without having to think about it, and synching them across all the Macs I use is totally worth $100 / year.

    I use the 10 GB of online storage for my Documents folder, which is < that size and contains all my key files. Media files (photos, videos, audio) I backup to a local, external drive. Bookmark synching is a bonus, along with the rest of the iLife business. I have never used the web tools for photos, web pages, etc.

    Basically, if you use more than one Mac, or you use a laptop that moves around a lot and you worry about it getting stolen / beaten up, it’s a pretty good way to go.

  4. I use JungleDisk both at work and at home for backup. ( I’ve been using it for about 10 months now. I’ve only had to dig into the archives once but it worked beautifully.

    At 200GB it may not be feasible but it’s very reasonably priced (it uses Amazon’s S3 for storage).

    It’s encrypted and geographically distributed and easily accesible from any computer with a small install (there is also web-based data access called “JungleDisk Plus”).

  5. Are you back in Vancouver at the moment?

    I almost walked into either you, or your doppelganger when you/he turned to go into Zara yesterday afternoon on Robson.

  6. Andrew: I actually sent my doppelganger out for a new shirt. But, since he’s evil, he bought this striped, pink number.

    Yep, that was me. I needed to upgrade my outfit for the evening’s events.

  7. .mac doesn’t seem worth it.

    $99 a year can buy you some pretty good hosting out there – and you’ll get a lot more than 10 gigs of space.

    I am doing all my mail on gmail as a result, and there’s no syncing necessary of course. I’m using it to run 3 different pop accounts, several forwards and I love having everything in one place. This is also why, after setting up a webdav server to run my iCal, I ditched it in favor of Google Calendar. Why should I need to sync stuff that can already work on the web, and why should I be restricted to a limited number of computers, and why oh why would I ever pay for the inferior functionality?

  8. Davin: Yep, we spend a scary amount of time with Google too: Gmail, Docs and Calendar. I’ve written about it before, but I’d like my Google Calendar to sync with my local iCal, but I haven’t found a cheap and effective solution.

  9. I’m in the same boat Darren. Because of video production, and approx 10 000 pictures, and a variety of other stuff, I backup to DVD, and to an external 750gb HD. It’s not on the web, but I couldn’t find a web service that allowed me to backup that much data.

  10. which reminds me, I need to ask you to help me as I have a .mac account and yet struggle with my back up and so far have not been able to upload my photos, but I know it is probably setting related. Help!

  11. I got a family .Mac account when my folks, who are older but interested in that “internet thing”, decided to get a new iMac. I can remote control their machine when tech support is needed and they can iChat with their grand kids. Granted we could have done this another way, but .Mac sure makes it easy — which is the key with older parents.

    It should be cheaper though, I think it is $179.00 for a family account!

  12. I have been using ElephantDrive ( Their Mac client offers automated scheduled backups. The great thing is that once the data is up there, I can access it from anywhere (even from my work Windows machine). Its pretty cheap as well.

  13. The next couple of years will really see a huge market for RAID 5 NAS (network attached storage) devices in the home Darren. I personally have a 300GB HP MediaVault with two hard drives (for mirroring).

    As hard drive prices continue to fall, we’ll see larger NASs (750-1TB+) in 4 drive configurations. Even Future Shop has started carrying the higher end HP MediaVault with RAID 5 support.

    I’m a big fan of network storage outside of the home, but in order for it to work well, you need super fast access to your content. And unless the carriers start selling 1Gb fibre links to the home, the NAS is a much better alternative.

    Great blog!

  14. I can’t find a way to write or receive mail on my .mac account. I believe I am paid up to date. Please comment. Gordon Chambliss

  15. So THAT was what those “Gonna Cut You off” note were from .Mac. “Still Time to Renew.” I can understand the drug-addiction metaphor.
    Better re-up.

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