Apple really go out of their way to push .Mac so a little over three months ago I decided to give their 90 day free trial a go. I may as well see for myself what all the hype is about right! On paper .Mac is great. The iDisk is a wonderful idea, the idea of syncing your application settings, calendar, contacts email …… is wonderful. However, I’m sure we’ve all heard the phrase the devil is in the detail, well, with .Mac it’s similar, the devil is in the implementation.

[tags]Apple, .Mac[/tags]

The Good

At this stage I have quite a few apps that can sync their settings via .Mac and I have a lot of passwords that it would be nice to have synchronized. I enabled synchronization and it worked. It was a handy feature and because the syncing all happens in the background I didn’t notice a performance hit, so, to be fair, syncing to .Mac seems to work, at least when the .Mac servers are up!

I’m trying to find another good thing to say about .Mac but all I can say is that the idea has great potential. But, as every school kid knows, that’s not a good thing to see on your report card, that’s a really bad thing to see!

The Very Very Bad

The single biggest problem with .Mac is performance. The .Mac servers are so insanely slow that the iDisk is un-usable for all but the smallest of files. Using it to backup any amount of data is not an option. But it gets MUCH worse. Once you mount your iDisk EVERY file dialog on your computer slows down because each time you go to open a file or save a file or view a file or what ever OS X goes and contacts your iDisk because it’s in the sidebar of the finder. The effect it had on my MacMini was astounding. It was as if someone had snuck in over-night and swapped my G4 processor for a G3! It actually made my Mac frustrating to use! But it gets worse, not only are the servers slow, they are also un-reliable and when they go down you have no way of contacting Apple. Your hundred dollars don’t get you proper support and Apple seem to be very slow to fix .Mac problems. It’s as if they just don’t care!

However, none of this really matters because there is an even more fundamental problem, you have FAR too little space. If you were to do even the half of all the great things Apple say you can do with your .Mac account you’ll go sailing past your paltry 1GB limit in no time atall. Who could possibly back up their music, photos & documents, store their email, and publish their podcasts and web pages on 1GB of disk space!?

The final nail in the coffin of .Mac is the price Apple expect you to pay for this shambles of a service. Just under a hundred dollars a year it costs you to buy 1GB of frustration and pain. No matter what way you look at it it’s terrible value for money. What really annoys me is that all this is just based on WebDAV technology but Apple won’t let you use any other WebDAV server from within the iSync tool. The technology is all right there in the OS but they are blocking us from using it with servers that actually work. Bad show Apple, bad show 🙁

Needless to say I didn’t continue with .Mac after my free trial and I doubt I ever will again unless Apple make some massive changes to the implementation, the quotas and the price.