.Mac iDisk going crazy, again.


I use Apples .Mac service and it must be one of the worst "Apple experiences" ever. I can't believe I keep paying $100/year for that crap[1].

Let's not even talk about the countless times the sync thing has gone amok and made all such of crazyness of the data it's supposed to sync (it seems like that part has gotten better in Leopard, crossed fingers).

What hasn't gotten better is their brain-dead iDisk product. It still seems to be missing basic encryption. Since upgrading to Leopard it's a frequent occurrence that it comes up with duplicate problems "which of these both ancient versions of the file is newer". Apparently that's an ongoing problem, now WEEKS OLD. Hello! How hard can it be? Also - it CRASHES if the request goes through a proxy server. How can they not have tested that? Apparently this is also a widespread problem.

Anyway, that's not even what I'm going to talk about. I have 2GB allocated to the iDisk. In Tiger and earlier it'd actually take that much room on the disk, even if you only used it for a few hundred MB. I have about 500MB on my iDisk. In Leopard they finally got it changed so it's using a new "sparsebundle" disk image type instead of a "sparseimage". The change here is that it stores the disk image in a bunch of little files, presumably to make it friendlier to the Time Machine for backups. So far so good. Until last night when I went to put the computer to sleep and saw roughly all my programs had crashed and those that had not had dialogs up about the disk being full. Why? Because the idiotic iDisk sync had decided to just EAT UP ALL DISK SPACE.

$ du -sh ~/Library/FileSync/
16G /Users/ask/Library/FileSync/

Nice going! It must be hard to store several hundred megabytes, so let's take ALL AVAILABLE DISKSPACE to do it. If I had been using my new 1TB disk as the system disk I'm sure it'd have kept going until it was full, too. After clearing some other space up and restarting it can't even figure out to get rid of the waste space here.

And the iDisk lost the file changes done in the last few days. Yay! I can't believe that I (until recently) was relying on the iDisk for several important files.

I am really really happy that I'm using Jungle Disk and Amazon S3 for storing my new paperless paper archive (more on that another day).

I'm going to write to Apple/DotMac Support and ask if they have an explanation. What do you think my odds are?

(1. To answer the question from the first paragraph: I know why I keep giving them my money for this: it's because syncing my address book and keychain is really really really nice, when it works). $100 nice though? Geez!)


I've been using S3 for some time too and I'm not going back to using anything else. I have about 40 GB stored there and it costs me around $6.50 per month.

One must resist the temptation of using rsync over Jungle Disk, though. The way rsync works is by doing a hash of each file on the source and target to find out if the file has changed. In the case of JungleDisk/S3, rsync will have to read each file entirely on the remote end. This will effectively be worse than deleting the whole remote backup and starting from zero.

What you must do is store the hash on the remote file system, that way you only have to retrieve it (a few bytes) to find out if the local file has changed.

The only programs I could find that do this are rdiff-backup and duplicity. I wonder if there are others that do this...


Yeah - S3 is great value.

I mostly just use the automatic backup stuff for Jungle Disk (where JD takes care of "what needs to be updated").

If you have less data then the local cache just needs to be populated once, making rsync reasonably efficient, no?

- ask

Just to clear up the questions on rsync & Jungle Disk - if you use the --size-only flag, it won't attempt to create hashes and pull down the files. If you have all the files in cache this doesn't matter, but you're also not gaining any efficiency since the Amazon S3 doesn't support "partial" file updates and the entire file gets uploaded anyway. Unless you have a strong affinity for scripting your backups with rsync the built-in automatic backup feature is probably better.

fwiw, we are adding block-level file updates to the next major release of Jungle Disk, which does rsync-like delta updates of files whether you are backing them up with Automatic Backups or even just manual copy.

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This page contains a single entry by Ask Bjørn Hansen published on November 11, 2007 9:59 AM.

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