iCloud: What's in, what's out for MobileMe users

Web calendar and contacts in, iDisk and password sync out, says Apple

Apple won't officially debut iCloud for months -- September is the bet by most -- but last week the company revealed more information about what the online sync and storage service will and won't include.

The news was especially welcome to customers already paying $99 a year for MobileMe, the 2008 service Apple launched to early teething troubles and poor press. MobileMe never attracted a wide audience, in part because so much of what it did could be cobbled together from free services and tools.

MobileMe changes
Apple will drop iDisk, Gallery and iWeb services when it transitions MobileMe subscribers to iCloud this fall.

Earlier this month, Apple announced that it would pull MobileMe's plug in 2012, months after it is to be replaced by iCloud. But until last week, Apple had left MobileMe users in the dark about what parts would shift to iCloud and what would be ditched.

Apple's MobileMe-to-iCloud transition FAQ gave us some answers, and we pitched in with some others.

Will I still be able to access my mail, calendar and contacts on the Web? Yes. Once iCloud launches this fall, users can access email, calendar and contacts, three of the apps now available on MobileMe.

Apple said it would provide more details on how to migrate MobileMe's mail, calendar and contacts to iCloud when the latter goes live later this year.

What happens to iDisk and the files I've stored there? iDisk won't make the move to iCloud. But it's not going away until June 30, 2012, when Apple retires all of MobileMe. That gives subscribers just over a year to continue uploading and downloading files to and from the 20GB iDisk space.

Before MobileMe goes dark, users must copy the files in iDisk to local storage on their Macs or PCs. Instructions for doing so are available on Apple's website.

Can I use iCloud's online storage like I did iDisk? Because Apple hasn't been crystal clear, we're not sure, but we think the answer is no.

Unlike MobileMe's iDisk, iCloud's 5GB of free storage space apparently won't be accessible through, say, the Mac's Finder, but instead will contain documents saved, at least initially, only through Apple's iWork suite of Pages, Numbers and Keynote.

Other uses of the space, Apple has said, will be for the email mailboxes and backups of iOS devices, including photos, settings, app data and other information.

Apple has said nothing about files generated on a Windows PC or on a Mac outside of iWork.

So with iDisk gone, what do I do? Apple hasn't said, but it seems the company has ceded that market to the likes of Dropbox and Microsoft's Windows Live SkyDrive.

Dropbox gives Mac and Windows users 2GB of storage space for free -- and syncs that space between platforms, machines and mobile devices, while SkyDrive offers 25GB for free.

For online backup purposes, you may want to look into services like Carbonite or Mozy. The former charges $55 per year for unlimited storage, while the latter provides 2GB free, with 50GB of space costing $6 per month.

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