Renewal time at .Mac- Beg and plead

Dear .Mac Member,

.Mac membership now comes with 1 GB of combined .Mac Mail and iDisk storage. Because you purchased additional storage for this membership year, we’ve increased your total storage to 2 GB (and increased your monthly data transfer limit to 25 GB) for the duration of your current membership. This update has already taken place. You can use your Account Settings to take advantage of .Mac’s storage flexibility and reallocate storage to best fit the way you use the service.

In addition, .Mac is now available in French and German as well as in English and Japanese. You’ll also find that .Mac now includes new Backup 3 software and the ability to create .Mac Groups.

We value your membership and hope you enjoy these enhancements to your .Mac service.

The bold is my own emphasis. In other words, please, please don’t leave us even though we’ve finally increased the storage to 1GB 18 months after Gmail was introduced and even though our online .Mac services are still 3 years behind the competition.

Really, this is pitiful. Apple only updates .Mac at renewal time- and the renewals are always just enough to keep you hopeful. I use Typepad for blogging and photos- 1000x better than .Mac’s “Homepage” services in both functionality and usability. Flickr is equally impressive. Gmail and Yahoo mail are heads and shoulders above .Mac’s web-based mail. Yes, this is a point of contentition for me. Apple sells .mac email as “accessible from anywhere”. True, but you can’t find anything in there- search is joke.

Now we have “Groups” allowing family and friends to share a webspace. It looks like a poor excuse for a blog- which is what they should have launched with a neat blogging tool and podcast tool.

The bright spot in all this is Sync (which works for me, though that’s not the case for everyone) and Backup. Apple’s latest revision to Backup appears to be a good one. There are a few quirks and obvious over sights- like the ability to clone your disk- but overall this software is very good. I use Retrospect to backup my Mac. I run backups to my iPod, DVD and Firewire HD. Retrospect slightly exceeds Backup in the following areas:

1. Incremental Backups. Backup finalizes the session on a DVD, Retropect does not. This means you can completely fill the DVD (over the course of weeks) before the “session” is finalized. It appears I need to insert a new DVD with Backup- even though the one already backed up to is only half full.

2. Bootable Backups. Retrospect offers this, Backup does not.

3. Encryption. You can password protect your Retrospect backups. This is very handy when backing up to an iPod.

Backup does shine in its interface; I found it easy to create backup plans that suit .Mac, i.e. small daily, off-site backups. Retrospect is famous for its lack of usability and is very difficult to configure.

Apple has done well with Backup. Now, they just need to bring the rest of the service up to that level. That would be worth my $99 a year and I wouldn’t have the nagging feeling I’d just been had.

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