Killing .Mac, part 1

I renewed my .Mac subscription last year, though I did so with reservations. That was the last time I will renew, and come October, I will be .Mac-less for the first time since the service was the original, free iTools. With every feature “update”, I am finding less and less value in the service for myself. I am not alone in my feelings, and Khoi Vinh sums up a lot of how I feel. Your own mileage may vary.
I thought I would begin the process of replacing the features I use with .Mac, keeping in mind the sum total of the replacements not exceed .Mac’s annual price tag of $99.95. Steven Frank offers alternatives, and I will likely touch on many of those as well.
To begin the replacement process, I started with virus protection. When McAfee began to have issues with Virex 7.5, before and after the introduction of Mac OS X Tiger, I went looking for another anti-virus solution. Granted, we have yet to have a serious virus infection of the OS X community, but it never hurts to be prepared.
I now use ClamXav to fend off the nasties. The only downside to ClamXav is a lack of protection from Visual Basic-based macro viruses, which infect Microsoft Office documents. Personally, though I own Office, I use its components rarely, so this isn’t a showstopper for me. If the applications of Office are some of your mainstays, however, you might want to investigate Norton AntiVirus or VirusBarrier.
It should be noted that Apple no longer includes any anti-virus package with .Mac, so even if I were to pay for NAV or VirusBarrier, it wouldn’t be counted against the $99.95 cost of .Mac.
Besides the former use of Virex, another feature I’m using with .Mac is the e-mail address. At the last revision of the .Mac feature set, Apple increased the default storage limit to one gigabyte. This is shared space; it is utilized by your .Mac e-mail, as well as any files you upload to your account.
Contrast this with Google’s Gmail, which gives you, currently, 2.7 GB of space, and counting. (Google slowly increases the storage amount each day.) My Gmail account has become my main e-mail account, with my account on my own domain coming in second. The Gmail web interface is much faster, for me at least, than the .Mac web interface, though with both accounts I use the POP protocol to route the mail to my local e-mail client.
So for now, I’ve replaced the anti-virus software Apple no longer offers, and I’ve replaced the e-mail service with one that offers more storage and a faster user interface, both at no cost. More on my personal quest to rid myself of .Mac in a future post.

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