I Am Joe’s Blog:

August 8, 2007 • 11:30 AM

New .Mac storage limits: still way behind

Among the many interesting announcements from Apple yesterday was an expansion of .Mac’s capabilities, but with the same price as before. And there are lots of groovy new things, such as the Web Gallery and the capability to use .Mac with your own domain. Unlike most people, my reaction to these changes was, in a word, “Ugh,” by which I mean “I now have to spend many days updating my book Take Control of .Mac to reflect the current truth.” Yeah, I know, boo hoo.

However, what most caught my attention was the change in storage limits. Previously, .Mac came with 1 GB of storage for $100 per year, and you could increase it to either 2 GB (for $50 extra per year) or 4 GB (for $100 extra per year). Now, at those same prices, you get a base level of 10 GB, which you can increase to either 20 GB or 30 GB. And it seems a lot of people are thinking, “Wow, a 10x increase in space at no extra cost! Great!” But I’m thinking: not great.

As before, that space has to be divided among Mail, .Mac Groups, and iDisk—and, of the iDisk space, a lot of that will presumably go toward sharing all your photos and videos and iWeb sites. You can use whatever’s left for sharing files or backups. But here’s the thing. Apple is still way behind the times; they should have done that two years ago and made yesterday’s upgrade another order of magnitude greater. At least. Compared with other Web/email hosting providers (because really, that’s basically what .Mac is), .Mac still gives you a fraction of the typical storage space at a higher price. For example, Dreamhost will give you 145 GB of storage (which, by the way, increases by 1 GB each week) in their cheapest plan, which is $9.95 per month—just $20 per year more than .Mac (and you can decrease that to $7.95 per month by prepaying for two years).

My particular area of concern here, though, is backups, because I’ve written a lot on that subject, and am at this very moment in the process of updating Take Control of Mac OS X Backups to say a lot more about, among other things, online backup services. If .Mac stacks up poorly against Web hosting providers, the comparison with online backup providers is even bleaker. Mozy gives you unlimited backup storage space for $5 per month. And CrashPlan is right behind—you get 50 GB for $5 per month, with additional gigs at 10 cents each (so, 100 GB would be $10 per month, and so on). That’s exactly the sort of space:price ratio where Apple should be. Previously, they were at 1 percent of that, and now they’re at 10 percent. I find that kind of insulting, as though I’ll see all the pretty graphics (yes, they are pretty) and forget that I’m still being overcharged and underserved.

Speaking of that 1 percent figure…I find it interesting that the new iMacs released yesterday can include up to 1 terabyte of disk space. Clearly, Apple expects you to fill up that space with all your excellent new media. Equally clearly, they expect you to put no more than 1 percent of it (10 GB)—or, maybe, 3 percent (30 GB)—online. That’s weird and sad. I say this even realizing the realities of internet bandwidth (sure, it’d take months to back up 1 terabyte over a DSL connection). That’s no excuse to let your competitors leave you in the dust.

All this is not to say I don’t find .Mac useful. I do find it useful—enough so that I keep renewing every year (even though I also have to supplement it with other services). And I’m happy that it’s gotten considerably more useful in the past 24 hours. But let’s not kid ourselves: this is one area in which Apple is still far, far behind the curve.