Apple Buyer's Guide
Desktops & Notebooks
iPod & iTunes
Windows Apps On Macs
14 Free/Cheap Mac Apps
Shopping & Support
.Mac Online Service
Apple & The Enterprise
Reader Poll: Apple's Role
Still, it's worth getting, for redundant backup. And the iCal, Address Book, and bookmark sharing are nice. But use some other backup service as your first line of defense against lost data in case of system failure.
.Mac's biggest strength is that everything is integrated into the operating system. The Web Gallery allows users to easily share movies and photos through iMovie or iPhoto. .Mac offers Web site hosting, and you can author your site with the desktop iWeb application. IMAP mail lets you access your mail from your mac.com address via a Web browser, Apple Mail, the iPhone, or any IMAP- or POP3-compliant mail client. .Mac Groups lets you coordinate activities with your family, friends, or workgroup using group e-mail, or a shared Web site and calendar. Sync synchronizes bookmarks, calendars, Keychain passwords, contacts, and more. iDisk provides file storage online, as well as document backup.
Pricing starts at $99.95 for a one-year subscription, which includes 10 Gbytes of combined e-mail and file storage, and 100 Gbytes of monthly data transfer.
If you need more space or less of a financial hit, there are plenty of alternatives. Google's Picasa and Yahoo's Flickr are great photo-sharing services, YouTube lets you share video, Mozy offers Mac online backup in beta, and of course there are plenty of Web mail services. But .Mac offers out-of-the-box integration with the Mac OS; you'd have to install third-party software to come close to that with other services.
.Mac would be wonderful if it offered unlimited storage, like other online storage services such as Amazon S3 and Mozy. But the current storage caps are a severe limitation on the service's attractiveness.