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How To Replace iDisk, Part I

The most significant advantage of iDisk from MobileMe was that it managed to provide an Internet-based storage which acted just like a mounted volume in the Finder.

The user had the possibility to mount it, access it from just about anywhere and also transfer items to it. You can consider it as a more convenient type of FTP. The bad news is that MobileMe and iDisk will not be available anymore starting with the end of June, according to Apple.

Even though it wasn’t the best solution, many people have used it so since it will no longer be available, we must have a look at some of the alternatives offered. Right from the start, we should mention that Apple provides the ability to mount several types of file-sharing services, such as FTP and WebDAV straight in the Finder, but many users criticized it for not being flexible and robust enough. In addition, it doesn’t include support for two very popular methods of accessing files that are stored on a remote server (Amazon S3 and SFTP). For Finder-accessible access, you might want to consider a storage system like Amazon if you have access to file sharing through a hosting company. For your own servers, you can consider Panic’s Transmit which will set you back $34 or Nolobe’s Interarchy that costs $30. Both Transmit and Interarchy provide a connection to one of the many file-server protocol types that are available, along with support for several proprietary ones as well, to be treated just about the same as a regular Mac volume. The computer won’t know the difference while the programs handle the necessary protocol interaction in the background, much like a regular AFP – Apple Filling Protocol volume. This would have to be a convenient alternative to the regular browser window approach in which the user can interact with the files via the lists that are in the program itself. Interarchy and Transmit can work with three of the most popular secured methods for a remote access: WebDAV over HTTPS – which is a popular way for extending the file service to a web server; SFTP – Secure File Transfer Protocol – commonly used by web hosting companies; along with Amazon S3 that at the moment is holding no less than 900 billion objects, including here web pages & images. These three protocols are entirely safe to use at home, at the office or on public networks. Needless to say, there are other methods which are less secure but these are recommended to be used only on trusted networks.

In Interarchy you can find several secure but less popular ways, while in Transmit you will need to install NTFS which is a tool that can make mountable volumes appear. We should mention that the programs have entirely different ways of approaching net disks, as Transmit will work much like the iDisk’s old default mode so you get a window within the file structure of the server path or remote shared server, but without syncing or downloading files locally.