I Am Joe’s Blog:

September 20, 2005 • 10:24 AM

Taking/Losing Control of .Mac

Last Saturday, after months of writing interrupted regularly by delays of all sorts, I finally breathed a deep sigh of relief as I submitted to my editor a manuscript for my next ebook, Take Control of .Mac. This is a project I’d hoped to complete during the first few months of the year, and which was getting in the way of finishing some long-overdue updates to my other ebooks. What with my ebooks on upgrading to Tiger and Now Up-to-Date & Contact, Macworld articles, Interesting Thing of the Day, and other interruptions too numerous to mention, I simply couldn’t make it happen sooner.

So this morning I woke up, sat down at my computer, and discovered within the first 30 seconds that I now have a major revision ahead of me, before the first edition even goes out! Not to mention the fact that I’ll need to revise Take Control of Mac OS X Backups more significantly than I already knew I needed to.

The main reason for these revisions is that Apple has done something truly unexpected: they’ve actually made Backup a useful backup application. I can’t overemphasize the significance of this move. I’ve made no secret of my disdain for earlier versions of Backup, which lacked basic features I consider crucial. Although I’ve only spent about an hour so far testing Backup 3.0, I have to say that so far I actually like it. I might even use it. In fact, I might even go so far as to recommend it—for certain kinds of users in certain situations—in lieu of my old favorite, Retrospect.

Most importantly, Backup now performs additive incremental archives, which means that (a) it keeps old copies of files when they change, so that you can choose which one you want when it comes time to restore; and (b) it copies only new or changed files—not every single file—when performing a backup. It has other useful new features too, but I haven’t worked with them enough to say how much I like them.

Added to this is the fact that Apple has quadrupled storage space available to .Mac users for email and iDisk (from 250 MB to 1 GB); you can still buy another gigabyte if you want for $50 per year. Now, 1 GB still isn’t enough to back up your entire hard disk online (and it’s far behind the 2 GB+ limit of Gmail), but it’s certainly way better than before, and at least beginning to get into the territory of practicality. Limited storage space is yet another thing I complained about in the first draft of my ebook on .Mac, and about which I will now have to say somewhat nicer things.

Apple has made some really great steps in the right direction, and this makes me quite upset happy. (I’d like to think that my criticisms played some small part in their decision, but who am I kidding?) I now have to squeeze a few more days of writing into this week, which definitely makes me unhappy, but at least it’s for a good cause.