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Preface > The Benefits of a .Mac Membership

The Benefits of a .Mac Membership

To borrow a tagline from American Express, "Membership has its privileges"; the very same adage applies to your .Mac membership. If you look beyond the instant gratification of having a Mac.com email address that lets everyone know you're a Mac user, take the time and look at everything that's included with your annual .Mac Membership. But first, let's look at the ISP issue.

ISPs, Email, and Your Web Site

In order to connect to the Internet from home, you have to pay a gross amount of money to someone for that connection. Nowadays, the chosen path is cable modems and DSL for home users who want high-speed Internet access. Since most broadband providers charge an average of $30-$40 per month (or more), you're already shelling out $360 or more per year just to send email and cruise the Web.

And with that ISP, you most likely get one main email account and possibly a few more email addresses that you can assign to family members in your household. And most ISPs offer web-hosting on their servers, typically with a limit of about 50 MB of storage.

But the one problem with ISPs these days is that they're being bought and sold constantly, and every time your ISP changes hands, you get a new email address and your web address changes. That means you have to send a message to all your friends to let them know about the change, and what's worse, you typically don't get the same email address name as you had before. For example, in the two years I lived in Boston, my cable company (and broadband Internet service) shifted hands more than counterfeit $20s; from MediaOne, to AT&T, and then to Comcast. Every time the ISP changed hands, we got a new email address.

If you've been through an ISP switch, think about how much of a headache it is to send email out to everyone in your Address Book, plus not to mention the time it takes you to reconfigure your mail settings and realign the planets so people can get to your web site.

Through it all, the one constant in our lives has been our .Mac accounts. We've grown to rely on the Mac.com address as our primary source of email communication. Our friends and family know that their mail will always find us, no matter how frequently we move across the country, or how many times our ISP gets bought and sold. And since we have .Mac accounts, we have our own web sites, which we don't have to move around either. Everything stays put, just like it should.

.Mac's Extras

Beyond having a Mac.com email address, there's a lot more to .Mac membership that makes it a great deal. For example, let's consider Virex and Backup just by themselves.

Virex is a virus protection application for your Mac that's included with your .Mac membership. All you need to do is download and install the latest version of Virex from the Mac.com web site (or from your iDisk), and you can start regularly scanning your Mac for viruses. Virex can be set up so that it scans your computer for viruses every time you start your Mac. It also has an eUpdate feature that checks your iDisk for updates to ensure that Virex is always up-to-date in tracking down viruses on your Mac. If you purchased virus-protection software separately (such as Norton AntiVirus), you could pay upwards of $50.

The one thing that every computer owner should do regularly is back up their computer. If you don't, and if something happens to your computer's hard drive, you're basically out of luck. Smart computer owners realize the value of having a backup and often invest $50-$100 on backup software alone.

If you were to purchase the anti-virus and backup software separately, you can expect to spend about $100 right there. Add on to that 100 MB of drive space you can use to host a web site or a place to back up your files to, you've equaled the annual cost of your .Mac membership.

Then consider the thousands of royalty-free audio tracks, which can be downloaded from your iDisk. Each track is available in varying lengths, which makes them easy to download and use in any iMovie or Final Cut Express project you might be working on. These tracks are always at your disposal, yet they don't cost you a dime. Apple makes these freely available to anyone with a .Mac membership. If you were to go out and purchase CDs full of stock, royalty-free audio tracks, the cost would be about 10 times the cost of your annual .Mac membership.

And finally, let's go back to that web page of yours. Sure, your ISP gives you space on its server to place your web site, but what if you don't have the foggiest clue of how to build a web page? ISPs don't give you any tools to use, and you're pretty much left to figure it out for yourself, which probably means that you won't take the time to publish your own web site.

But with .Mac, you can build your web site using the HomePage tools to create your web page with very little effort. Of course, you're not limited to using the HomePage tools—you can always build your site using Dreamweaver, Contribute, GoLive, or BBEdit and upload the site to your iDisk's Sites folder—but they're there if you need them. And if you have a digital camera and use iPhoto for storing digital images on your Mac, you can select images and post them on your .Mac HomePage or create a screensaver with a few clicks and the push of a button.

So, is the annual cost of a .Mac membership worth it? You betcha, it is! You can't get this level of integration anywhere or on any other system. There's nothing like a .Mac membership to extend your digital lifestyle.

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