When Apple announced iCloud in June 2011, the company focused on presenting all the new features that iCloud will bring to every Mac and/or iOS user for free. Those features include the ability to sync your personal data (email, contacts, calendars), photos, app data, and documents along with features like Find My iPhone (or iPad, iPod touch, or Mac), the ability to back up core data from iOS devices when iOS 5 releases, and the ability to redownload almost all your iTunes purchases on the flyinitially this included apps, ebooks, and music, but has more recently expanded to include TV shows/episodes, which can also be streamed to an Apple TV.
While iCloud is without a major service that has tons of potential to revolutionize how Mac and iOS users can manage their personal data, the transition from Apple's existing $99/year MobileMe service to iCloud is not without some trade-offs. Several staple features of Apple's web services (which began with iTools a decade ago and have transitioned through .Mac into MobileMe and now iCloud) have reached the end of the road.
In this article, I'll look at each of the MobileMe features being cut off when Apple moves to iCloud and how you can replace or approximate them with other options.
iDisk has been a staple of all of Apple's web services dating back to the original iTools launch. When Apple first created the iDisk, the concept of Internet storage that acted just like a local disk and didn't require any special tools or protocols like FTP apps was a bit revolutionary.
The ability to store files and access them from any Mac (and later PCs), have offsite backup, and designate public or shared files was and is an appealing concept. The difference between today and ten years ago, however, is that there is a very broad selection of services that offer iDisk-like Internet storage. And most offer it for free (to a certain extent of space) and with various extra features like automatic sync of files between computers, the ability to edit or view documents in a web browser, the option to work collaborate with others in real time, and access from virtually any computing or mobile platform.
With that as competition and with Apple's aim to focus iCloud on syncing and managing your content rather than simply storing it, it isn't a surprise to find that Apple has dropped iDisk from its set of online features.
That's okay for Mac and iOS users because there are so many other options to choose from out there, and most of them do offer useful extra features that iDisk didn't. Depending on how much data you need, you may even find an iDisk alternative is more cost-effective, particularly if you choose a free option(s).
Here's a list of some of your options (note: all of these providers offer cloud-based storage but some offer additional useful features as noted):
- Dropbox: Optional (paid) access to previous versions of documents.
- Google Docs: Allows web-based collaborative document editing.
- Amazon Cloud Drive
- Microsoft Live Mesh:: File sync for Mac with additional features for Windows.
- TeamDrive: Designed for groups or businesses.
- IDrive: Focus on backup.