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OS X - Operating System General OS operation information and support

OS 10.5 - MobileMe: Is iDisk a dead feature?


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StevenH

 
Member Since: Jan 05, 2007
Location: Norfolk, England
Posts: 215
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Mac Specs: White Macbook (refurb), 1.83 GHz Intel Core Duo, 2 GB Memory, 60GB HDD

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Below is my explanation of why I think iDisk is a dead feature for me and why I plan to use Back to My Mac instead.
(if you don't know what I'm on about, check out Apple's explanation of iDisk and Back to My Mac.



THE PROBLEMS I HAVE WITH IDISK

I've been using iDisk for a few days now and let's just say it's not been the most enjoyable experience I've had using an Apple product.

1) I started using iDisk without "iDisk Sync" turned on (default setting). "iDisk Sync" allows you to keep a copy of your iDisk contents on your local hard drive. Any changes you make locally is then synced to the cloud every now and then. With the default setting of "iDisk Sync" off, I accessed the files straight off the 'cloud' instead.

But then I found out that without having a local copy of the files on my iDisk drive i.e. "iDisk Sync" turned on, any attempt to Spotlight files located on the iDisk wouldn't return results. That's because Spotlight doesn't index the iDisk contents when it's in the 'cloud'.

So, to enable me to Spotlight files, I turned "iDisk Sync" on.

2) Sometimes though I would open a file from the iDisk on my iMac, do some work on it, and then use my Macbook somewhere else and inadvertently open the same file and make some changes.

You can imagine what happened. It would get all muddled up (because now there's two local copies) and I'd inevitably end up losing work or face the tedious job of patching the two together. I know I should've used the Share Screen feature first to check but I simply often forgot.

3) But even when I was only opening the file in one place at a time, very often I would then experience syncing problems ("last sync failed") which in essence meant that I could never trust whether my local copy was up-to-date anyway. I could've solved this by turning iDisk Sync off and keeping it in the 'cloud', but then I would be back to problem no. 1!

HOW BACK TO MY MAC SOLVES THESE PROBLEMS

Luckily, just a few hours ago, a revelation occurred to me. Why do I need iDisk when I have Back to My Mac which is also bundled with MobileMe?

With Back to My Mac I could access my hard drive just like I would with iDisk. The only difference is that it would work more like iDisk with "iDisk Sync" off i.e. I would need to mount the drive first before using it. But after that it's just like having a local hard drive.

It eliminates problem no. 1 too because Spotlight via Finder works great with remote files in Back to My Mac.

Back to My Mac doesn't directly solve problem no. 2 but at least I'm visually reminded to use 'Share Screen' to see if the file is open on the remote machine first; and if it is, close it before opening it on my local Mac. The reminder comes from the Share Screen button right there in the Finder when I first connect using Back to My Mac.

And there's no syncing needed! So it completely gets rid of problem no. 3!

The other major benefit I've noticed is that often I'm on the same wireless network as the 'remote' computer. And so any operation I perform on the remote hard drive, such as saving changes that I had made to a document using my local Pages app, happens so much quicker because of the difference between your average wireless network speed (11 Mbps) and your average internet speed (1 Mbps).

When I used iDisk, even if both computers were on the same wireless network, it would still try to use the internet speed when performing operations.

So Back to My Mac solves problems 1, 2 and 3, and wins it by giving me another benefit in no. 4!

OTHER STUFF AND THE ONLY REASON I CAN THINK OF WHY IDISK IS STILL ALIVE

What Back to My Mac isn't designed for though is to allow multiple people to collaborate on a document held in a central place, or sharing files publicly with anybody, not just with your other Macs.

With iDisk, you would generally place the file(s) you want to share in the Public folder within iDisk (which is automatically created for you, specifically designed for this purpose). Anyone can then access (and potentially write) the file(s) by visiting your designated Public folder URL (you can password protect the folder if you wish for added security).

However, in my uses of my Mac, I haven't found myself needing to collaborate with other people over a document or project that much at all. If I do need to collaborate it would usually be over a Pages or Word document, and I would just use the amazing Change Tracking tool with comments feature in Pages or the equivalent in Microsoft Word.

I'm sure other people need to collaborate for other reasons, using different programs, though. So if anybody reads this can you reply with how you use iDisk for your purpose?

In regards to sharing files publicly with other people (not just your other macs), it's also something which I don't do very often. Obviously using iDisk allows anyone to access those files whenever they want, but I don't usually require a server-hosted solution. My current solutions are to simply share it over iChat, email, or use my web-sharing feature to put files there instead.

Have I identified all of my options? I'm sure there are other ways to do so without using iDisk. If you know of me, feel free to school me.

Anyway the point of this post is, if you're like me and don't really need to using the Public folder for the above reasons, consider switching to Back to My Mac.

I am.
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goobimama

 
Member Since: Apr 28, 2006
Posts: 2,542
goobimama is a jewel in the roughgoobimama is a jewel in the rough
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For me iDisk is a backup solution more than a way to work with files directly. Whenever I make an edit, and I think that edit is important, I just dump it in the iDisk folder and up it goes. Also, Back to my Mac is sometimes non reliable, and I don't want to go all the way to the office to find I can't access my files.

So if I'm going somewhere, and I need that file when I reach there, I just dump it into iDisk, and download it when I'm on the other end.

I think iDisk is far from obsolete. First of all its a great way to share files. Someone asks for some PSD or something, instead of emailing, just upload to iDisk public folder. I'm waiting on that Share File button to pop into the web interface though. What was demo'ed at the WWDC was super awesome and I would love to get that.

iDisk could also be used on the iPhone (if Apple gets thing right). They could make an iPhone app in the App Store, which then gives you access to your iDisk folder over the air. One could even store some files locally.
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StevenH

 
Member Since: Jan 05, 2007
Location: Norfolk, England
Posts: 215
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Mac Specs: White Macbook (refurb), 1.83 GHz Intel Core Duo, 2 GB Memory, 60GB HDD

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Thanks for taking time to write a reply goobimama.

I wholeheartedly agree with you. iDisk is a wonderful way to share files publicly. Although, I tend to either email or iChat the files across. But I accept this probably more due to habit than genuinely preferring email as a file sharing solution. I can't deny my love for the WAY iChat allows me to share files though; drag and drop, and I can preview the files to them over iChat theatre too if I want to.

I'm disappointed to read that Back to My Mac isn't reliable for you. I've actually have the opposite experience; iDisk has failed to sync files many, many times for me. Do you have iDisk sync on? Or off?

On your recommendation though I'm gonna give iDisk another chance, for sharing files publicly.

Thanks goobmama.
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goobimama

 
Member Since: Apr 28, 2006
Posts: 2,542
goobimama is a jewel in the roughgoobimama is a jewel in the rough
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Like I said, I use it as a backup solution, and a manual one at that. I don't have the sync feature turned on mainly cause it uses up a lot of space instead of creating a sparseimage.

Back to my Mac seems to have a problem with my router. So till I change my router there's no Back to my Mac for me.

Btw the online interface of iDisk is much more responsive than the desktop version. I prefer the online version for anything iDisk.
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StevenH

 
Member Since: Jan 05, 2007
Location: Norfolk, England
Posts: 215
StevenH is on a distinguished road
Mac Specs: White Macbook (refurb), 1.83 GHz Intel Core Duo, 2 GB Memory, 60GB HDD

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Quote:
Originally Posted by goobimama View Post

Btw the online interface of iDisk is much more responsive than the desktop version. I prefer the online version for anything iDisk.
It sure is.

But I've given it a second chance and iDisk hasn't done anything more to convince me, unfortunately. Using it with Sync mode off crashes my finder. If I connect to my iDisk, then try to save a standard .txt file it will take ages, and show me the spinning wheel.

Sigh. I really wanted to like it too.

I'm now seriously considering DropBox, see what that's like.


Quote:
Originally Posted by goobimama View Post
Back to my Mac seems to have a problem with my router. So till I change my router there's no Back to my Mac for me.
That's a shame. Hope you get it fixed one day. It's a nice feature to have.
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John F

 
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Member Since: Feb 11, 2007
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I guess a lot has happened since these posts, but I still find iDisk frustratingly slow and unpredictable. Fortunately DropBox has come along and does the job much better.
As to Back to My Mac - I would love to make more use of it, but the super-secure network at my office prevents it from happening.
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