iDisk with a modem connection

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
September 11th, 2003 • 11:37 pm

Since I’ve renewed my .Mac account for another year, I’ve decided to make better use of its features. For example, I can remove some of the larger files on my own site at that don’t need to be accessed regularly and for which the exact URL is not important to the end user (my reader). My web space with my web host is limited to 70 MB and I’m getting dangerously close to it. This will help delay the moment when I’ll need to make a decision about getting more web space or setting up my own server physically somewhere.

So today I decided to upload some of these files to the “Sites” folder in my iDisk. Now, you need to remember that I only have a dial-up connection to the Internet, and that it usually peaks at 28.8 kbps.

So I opened a new Finder window and instructed the Finder to mount my iDisk. It took a few seconds, but it was relatively unintrusive. Then I grabbed the local copies of three large (1 MB+ each) files that I wanted to upload and dropped them on the “Sites” folder.

For several seconds, nothing happened. I had no way to tell whether the drag-and-drop itself had even worked. Then a “phantom” icon for the first of the three files appeared in the “Sites” folder. Then another. Then the third. Then (a good 60 seconds later) finally the “Copy” window appeared in the Finder, indicating that the copying process was indeed taking place.

But then the progress bar jumped directly to 1.9 MB of 5.3 MB. This was, I knew, physically impossible, since my uploading speed is limited to a few KB per second at best. Of course the Finder had not already uploaded 1.9 MB. But 1.9 MB was the size of the first of the three large files, and for some reason it went directly from starting the upload to the “finishing” phase (for the first item) at 1.9 MB. So right now I’m staring at this window:


which has been the same for the past 10 minutes or so. Presumably when the uploading of the first of the three files is finally over, it’ll jump directly to the next “Finishing” phase, which will last just as long as the first one, without any proper indication of the actual progress in uploading.

In addition the Finder has become pretty much unusable for anything else, without annoying lags happening every 10 seconds or so. Worse still, other applications seem to be equally affected, including Adobe Photoshop 7, which, for some reason refuses to open files dragged on it from the Finder.

Fortunately, other applications continue to work unaffected, but still! It’s pretty bad.

Now, I know that Panther (Mac OS X 10.3) is supposed to fix all this by creating a local copy of your iDisk and presumably doing the synchronizing less intrusively in the background. But I have to wonder how much attention will have been paid, once again, to the usability of the feature for those of us on a modem connection. If recent history at Apple is any indication, there is little reason to be optimistic. Will the synchronizing process between the local iDisk and the iDisk on Apple’s server still cause so much unresponsiveness in the Finder for other operations?

Let’s just hope that, by some kind of miracle, the iDisk will actually become usable for people like us, so that we can really take advantage of the stuff we’ve paid $100 for. Otherwise, I probably won’t renew next year.

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