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Apple fumbles with me.com

People trying to access Apple’s Mobile Me by going directly to the me.com domain yesterday were met by a 404 HTTP error response and a white screen with a single text message on it: “Not Found: Resource does not exist.

Accessing me.com/mail worked, but anyone typing in www.me.com or me.com got the error page mentioned above and was not redirected to the login page (which is what is supposed to happen).

According to our monitoring the problem lasted almost seven hours. It started at 08:29 a.m. CET on November 3 and wasn’t resolved until 3:25 p.m. CET (02:29 a.m. – 9:25 a.m. US EST).

Since this was mostly night time in the US, the problem was not as noticeable there, but in Europe the problem spanned most of the work day and is sure to have caused some confusion among the Mobile Me users.



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3 Comments

Apple should have never got into the web services arena. Stick to what you’re good at Apple (innovative hardware and consumer products, great software, and a killer OS).

I am a Mobileme user from back when it was .Mac (a much better name) I, thankfully, have been completely unaffected by all the problems I have heard. Mobileme is a godsend for me. I also have an iPhone, and the push features are great, specifically with keeping my calenders up to date. I have been nothing but happy with the service I have received, and of course I was overjoyed to know I got 3 additions months of Mobileme for free. Of course, this is all comming from the perspective of a former hotmail user. Which by the way, hotmail is an abomination compared to services like Gmail or Mobileme. And my other primary experience is with Microsoft exchange, which by the way is down right now….like usual. One more reason why I use Mobileme, for me it is more reliable than any other service I have ever used, has a beautiful interface, and sync’s with my iPhone.

I’ve been a .Mac/MobileMe subscriber only for a couple of years for a number of reasons. Atypically, I don’t really use the web apps at all — being a Unix administrator, I run my own server for those things — but there’s one reason far above the rest that justifies the price tag and which is consistently ignored/overlooked by reviews:

$99 a year for easily-accessible, secure, offsite backups — fully integrated with the operating system, no less — of the most critical data (keychains, especially) is an absolute bargain when you consider the time needed to recover from the complete loss of that data.

I’m referring here to synced data as well as iDisk data copied to Apple’s servers using Apple’s Backup.app.

Time Machine is great, if:
1. you’re running Leopard, and not everyone is
2. you know what you’re looking for and what to do with it; how many normal users have any idea how to restore their address book or calendar databases without a call to AppleCare? If they can setup Backup.app, they can restore, too.
3. your time machine backup device isn’t rendered absent or useless by some localized event or hardware failure

Earlier this year I had to reinstall Leopard on the laptop, from scratch (the local disk clone was not entirely useable in this case). Because I had everything critical ‘iDisk’ed or sync’d with MobileMe beforehand, the process to get back to exactly where I was before took less than 4 hours. I used Backup.app to get all my preference files back where they were with no fuss at all and SyncServices took care of keychains, calendars, address books, etc. (The local disk clone was useful for some things, such as Pictures and Music folders.)

Compared to dealing with the Windows registry after a reinstall, this experience was an absolute dream. When I was done I found myself wondering, “Is that all? It couldn’t have been that easy.”

Given the money “wasted” on other sorts of insurance (to the extent this can be called insurance), $99/year to cover data with a value orders of magnitude higher is a no-brainer.

In short, it comes down to two things:
1. how much is your time worth?
2. how much is it worth to you to avoid the bulk of the headache of restoring everything critical from nothing should that be necessary?

As far as the web apps go:
In the absence of a formal service-level agreement (SLA) from Apple (as far as I know, there isn’t one), they’re just a convenience. No one should stake their livelihood on any service without an SLA with terms they can live with. For everyone else, I regret to inform you that your yearly fee doesn’t even begin to justify the expectation of more than 99.5% uptime (that’s ~44 hours of cumulative downtime in a year). (Not even 99.0%, really, but I’ll be generous to keep the flame throwers to a dull roar. :-) )