Apple's .Mac Storage Solution: What You Need to Know About iDisk
Network storage of one kind or another has been around for decades. Back in the day, if you wanted to move files to a file server, your computer had to be connected to the same network as that file server via Ethernet, Token Ring, LocalTalk, or some other network. If your computer wasn't physically connected to that specific network, you couldn't connect. Most often, that meant the computers that were connecting were in a sort of closed arena—able to talk to each other but not able to connect with other sets of computers.
The Internet changed all that by allowing different kinds of computers running different kinds of operating systems to connect to each other around the world—and that includes transferring files to and from file servers. Thanks to the Internet, you can access files stored online from just about anywhere in the world—a boon for business travelers especially.
iDisk is a .Mac utility that lets you store your files on servers maintained by Apple. These servers store files for thousands of .Mac subscribers. When one of those subscribers connects to his or her iDisk using a Mac, the iDisk appears on the Desktop as if it were a network volume on a file server sitting in a closet down the hall. Users can treat the iDisk almost as if it were a hard drive connected directly to their Macs.
In this chapter, I'll cover how to use your iDisk—how to connect to it, how to copy files to it, and how to use the folders stored on it.
Your .Mac account comes with 250 MB of online storage that you can divide between your iDisk and your .Mac Mail account. When divvying up storage capacity, however, keep in mind that iDisk also provides storage space to a slew of .Mac services, including Backup, iCal, Sync, .Mac Slides Publisher, HomePage, iPhoto, iMovie, and iCards.
In fact, your iDisk comes populated with several folders, some of which already contain files ( Figure 3.1 ). You'll find the folder structure familiar—it's similar to the one in Mac OS X's home folder. Here's a look at what each folder is for, and what's in each one (if anything).
- Backup— This folder is used by the Backup software that comes with your .Mac subscription. If you haven't used Backup, this folder will have a single file that explains the purpose of the folder. If you have used Backup, the files you've chosen to back up will be here. The folder is read-only—that is, you can view the files and download them to your hard disk, but you can't upload anything into the folder. That's something only Backup can do.
- Documents— This is a convenient place to hold your various documents if you need to access them online. It's also a good place to back up important documents (although Backup does this very well).
- Library— This folder may or may not exist for you, depending on whether you've used an application that interfaces with .Mac. This folder isn't really for your use—rather, it's a place where applications that work with .Mac can store their own data. You can browse this folder, but since there's nothing really useful here, it's probably best to just leave well enough alone.
- Movies— You can store movies you want to share in this folder. Movies in this folder are available to HomePage so that you can easily create Web pages with them.
- Music— You can use the Music folder to store music.
- Pictures— This folder (as its name implies) is where you store digital photos and other pictures. Pictures in this folder are made available to HomePage for publishing photo galleries, and to iCards for sending custom iCards.
- Public— The Public folder is meant for sharing files with others. You can put anything in it that you like, and others can download those files at will (depending on how you have your Public folder set up).
- Sites— The Sites folder is where you store Web pages for others to view when they connect to your .Mac Web site. When you use HomePage on .Mac, it creates HTML files and the folders to hold them here as well.
- Software— The Software folder is divided into two parts: Apple Software and Members Only. The contents of these folders consist of downloadable bits of software, all for your use, and they don't count toward your iDisk storage limit. The Apple Software folder has software updates and other Apple-made utilities; the Members Only folder contains special downloads for .Mac members, such as games, third-party utilities, and music. You can download from this folder, but you can't upload to it.
Figure 3.1 Your iDisk comes with several folders already on it. Some of these folders are empty, and some contain files (such as software from Apple and files you may have put there through HomePage, Backup, or Sync).