Living in the cloud thanks to MobileMe and Dropbox

I bought a Macbook Air to replace my Macbook Pro. Since my team doesn’t allow me to code anymore, I decided it was a good time to get a 13″ screen.

I’ve been carrying a Macbook Pro everywhere for over three years now. It feels great to shed the weight, and the responsibility (if anything happens to the site, I don’t know enough ops to help).

Goal

I want to store everything in the cloud. I’ve backed up religiously in the past, but I never want to backup this computer. If I lose it, I should feel no loss.

And I don’t want to live in the cloud the Google way: by using the web browser for everything. I hate web browsers. I want to use native apps with local storage, but have everything backed up to the cloud automatically. This is the promise of iCloud, but it’s not here today.

The good:

  • MobileMe and Google Apps will sync all my personal information like email, calendar, and address book. MobileMe will even sync my Safari bookmarks, all the passwords for websites, preferences, and more.
  • I moved all my other files and documents to Dropbox. Dropbox is an amazing service that will store files for you and keep them in sync across computers. Dropbox handles all kinds of files and it works seamlessly through a folder on your computer. Anything I put in this folder appears on the web and my other computers.
  • I can then use native apps (Safari, Mail, iCal, Address Book, and iChat) on my computer.

The bad:

  • Things is a to-do list manager I use. It doesn’t have cloud support. I’ll be replacing it.
  • iChat stores chat history in the user documents folder. This can’t be changed.
  • Items on my Desktop won’t be copied to Dropbox.

The ugly:

  • I didn’t copy my music, photos, or videos to the cloud. This is over 1 terabyte of data and it simply isn’t feasible (yet) for this to be stored online. So these items are only on my iMac, and the iMac is backed up using Time Machine and an external hard drive.

Win:

  • I’ll never have to backup this computer. If I get a new laptop, I simply sign in to MobileMe, Google, and Dropbox, and I’m back up 100%.
  • Everything on this computer will be in sync with my iMac at home, iPhone, iPad, and any other devices I use in the future.
  • Since everything is in the cloud, I can switch computers seamlessly. If I feel like leaving my laptop at work, I can go home and login to my iMac. My email, calendar, and documents will all be perfecty as I left them at work. I can start a board presentation at work and finish it at home.

Since the iPod came out 10 years ago, we’ve been used to the idea of copying media from a computer (the master) to the device for playback. If you lost your iPod, you didn’t lose your music.

Apple’s vision for iCloud is to demote the computer to being a device like an iPod. The cloud will be the master (the truth) for your iPhone, iPad, and laptop.

I was able to recreate all the functionality of iCloud using MobileMe and Dropbox. No matter how easy you make backups (Time Machine is damn easy), you can’t beat automatic cloud sync.

10 comments

  1. Always a succinct write-up around real life tech issues we always face. Great post and once storage fees come down some the music, photos and other files will fly thru the clouds too:) ~Clint @cazoomi

  2. I am getting my MacBook Air tomorrow and I have been preparing myself to move to the cloud. For the things you could not move to cloud,1. Cultured Code will soon release a cloud solution for Things. They are accepting beta signups: http://culturedcode.com/beta/cloudsync/signup/2. iChats – if you use Gmail chat via iChat, the chat history will be in the cloud via your Gmail account. Otherwise, hard luck!3. Desktop items – you could use FolderWatch, an Apple Staff Favorite in June 2011. You can get it on the Mac App Store: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/folderwatch/id408224368?mt=12Did you consider sync services such as SugarSync, JungleDisk, SpiderOak, Mozy Stack?

  3. Regarding your lack of sync of desktop items: you can create a symlink from your desktop to your dropbox location! That way Dropbox will sync your Desktop items 😀

  4. I use OmniFocus – i can always trust that if I add a to-do on one device that’ll be on all the other devices with no effort on my part.

  5. You can sync all your Mac folders for free (5 GB online storage, but P2P support as well) with a Microsft tool: Windows Live Mesh.I use it every day and it works surprisingly good!

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