.Mac thoughts

So I’m about five days into my free .Mac trial, and I thought I’d write up some thoughts.

I pay about $60 per year for 500 GB of storage and 5 TB of bandwidth from DreamHost. .Mac costs $100 per year. For that much, it should be really, really special. On a strictly numerical level, DreamHost beats .Mac. Now, it’s true that DreamHost’s reputation for reliability has taken a beating the last year or so, but for $6 per month I can accept a few days per month of down time. And it’s nowhere near that bad; it seems to be less than one evening every month or two.

So that leaves a comparison of features. Now, actually there’s very little overlap between the two. .Mac offers a bare minimum of traditional web hosting features, with low bandwidth and storage, and few of the more dynamic features such as SQL and PHP. DreamHost offers huge bandwidth, huge storage, and lots of dynamic features.

As a traditional webhost, DreamHost wins hands down. But .Mac offers a lot that DreamHost doesn’t.

Apple lists the features of .Mac as Web Gallery, Website Hosting, IMAP email, Back to My Mac, Sync, iDisk, Groups, Backup, and 10 GB storage. There’s also easy publishing with the iApps. The webmail interface shames DreamHost’s webmail, but I download all my email anyway. The most useful-looking features are syncing and Back to My Mac.

Back to My Mac doesn’t work at all for me. There’s no errors, no feedback at all – it just isn’t there where it’s supposed to be. I’ve done a bit of research on this, and I expect it’s because my NAT doesn’t support the features Back to My Mac needs. But this is really just a guess, since there’s no feedback at all.

At first glance, syncing seemed to work for me. But then I ran into an odd problem: The sync created duplicates of a bunch of smart mail boxes. No problem, though: Delete them, reset up to .Mac. It’ll propagate to the other computers, right? Well, it turns out that’s a bad assumption. It worked to a point, but then one of the other computers just adds them again. I’d basically need to delete them from both computers simultaneously in order to get rid of them. No problem, I’ll just use Back to My Mac.

Oh, wait. That’s not going to work.

Well, maybe I’ll check out .Mac in another few years. But for now, I can’t imagine spending $100 on it. I want something that takes the gremlins out of a multi-machine existence, rather than adding bigger, more annoying ones. I feel like I started with a mogwai and .Mac fed it after midnight. Maybe if I was a bigger webmail user or wasn’t comfortable setting up things like WordPress it would be more interesting, but I’m not that guy.