Mobile Me, is it worth the price of admission?

I, like several others, purchased MobileMe when I got my 3G iPhone. Since it was only $69.95 I figured I’d give it a shot to see how much I liked it and how useful it would be in my overall computing strategy.

I got home and unboxed the activation code from the box, and thus attempted to follow the instructions to activate the code. However, the instructions inside the box were wrong and didn’t work as expected. So I did some hunting. After about a half hour or so of searching I did finally figure out where to actually sign up and activate my code. It took longer than it should, since I was still trying to activate my phone. But that’s a whole other story.

Mobile me as an overall is average. I am basically using it as a secondary storage medium for my backups. I have Amazon S3 as another online backup strategy, Yes I’m paranoid. Let’s go through each of the features individually”¦ shall we”¦

Mobile Me Mail. I haven’t had any problems with the system. I was not part of the unlucky 1% who lost messages and the like, or if I was, I didn’t notice, because I didn’t have a bunch of email sitting in my inbox. I have not had any problems using connecting to the IMAP client of MobileMe Mail. I guess to me, it’s just another email option, in case I need to send something important and have it backup.


Calendar syncing works rather well considering that most calendar sync programs just outright suck. Most will either create duplicates for existing appointments or just go ahead and not sync them at all. Calendar sync doesn’t do this. It works just as well as the desktop application does. If you have differing categories you can view just that single category. The only thing I do not care for about either the desktop or web-based calendar is the inability to see ALL categories simultaneously at once. If I had this feature then I could go ahead and see what is going on for any given time.


Having contacts sync between both computers, and my phones is quite nice. This is because of the fact that you can always have your contacts available and up to date. I don’t necessarily add a ton of contacts all the time, but you never know, one of these days I might start adding a plethora of contacts to my phone.

Web Galleries.

I cannot really comment on web galleries as I have not used them. This is because I have a Flickr Pro account already, and web galleries are unnecessary to me. I might give them a try at some pointt and report back, but it is not on the top of my “˜to-do’ list.


iDisk has been the bane of my existence and the most problematic item with Mobile Me. I initially tried syncing quite a few items with iDisk just in order to have an additional backup of my important documents. The problems I was/am having is that iDisk seems to continually be accessing my iDisk, I’m not sure if it’s downloading or uploading items. All I know is that it is syncing constantly. It doesn’t matter what time of day or night, it is constantly syncing. I’m not sure if this is because I have a local iDisk sparse bundle setup or not. I’ll have to do some more investigation.

The one thing I did, once the ever going initial backup finished, I did setup SuperDuper! to go ahead and do a backup of all the important items (about 5GB worth) to my iDisk every two hours, mostly since that doesn’t change that often unless I put something in one of the folders or sync new photos.

Additional Sync Items

Mobile Me has the ability to sync other items, like system preferences, mail accounts, mail rules and the like. This can come in very handy, so that if you do have multiple macs you can have the same mail set appear on each of them. This is how I have my two Macs setup.

While this works, there are a few quirks, which I hope Apple will issue fixes for. The first of these issues being that I love having my Dashboard items synced, so no matter which computer I’m using it’s the same setup. This works, however, the positioning of the items goes based upon my iMac, which has a 20″ screen, and my macbook is only 13.3″ so the items tend to overlap on the macbook. It’s not the end of the world, but it’d be nice to have scaling included.

With that, The Dock. I absolutely enjoy having the Dock sync between both systems, and it will make sure you want to sync the items on the dock but it does the same thing that the Dashboard widgets do. That’s the size of the Dock is not scaled to the screen. I know it would take a bit more programming, but I know Apple can determine the type of computer and the screen size, so this should not be too difficult to program.

Back to My Mac.

I would like to think that Back to my Mac would actually be a very useful utility, say for one little detail. I have Mac OS X Server, and with Server you cannot use Back to My Mac. Why you say, well.. It could be because of the fact that you’re running a server and it could potentially be a major security hole. With that, I guess I’ll have to stick to using a VPN to get back to my server, now if I could only get the Airport Extreme to actually support VPN passthrough, I’d be golden, but that’s another story entirely.

Other Options with Mobile Me.

Another option you have, since you get 20 Gigabytes worth of storage between mail and your iDisk. I opted to change the default 10GB for each to 18GB for my iDisk and 2GB for my email. You can use any range for each item depending on your needs. I myself chose to opt for more iDisk space than email, since I won’t be using the email address for anything super important, nor will the quantity necessitate the need to have 10GB of email.

Overall MobileMe isn’t bad if you’re new to the mac and you need an online backup solution and do not feel like messing with Amazon’s S3 and Jungledisk. It is a fixed cost, about While it may not be right for us ubergeeks, but it is perfect for novices or those without ANY backup strategy. Or if you just need another backup strategy to throw in the mix. If you’re not doing backups, we need to talk.

I'm into everything technology related, particularly anything Apple related. I enjoy programming and tend to lean towards server-based technologies over client-based. You can contact me on twitter, via e-mail, or follow me on friendfeed.