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Summary:

The MobileMe trial began to seem like it was going to go on forever, since Apple kept tacking on more time to make up for having released a half-baked service to begin with. Sadly, not so. My own trial term recently came to an end, but […]

The MobileMe trial began to seem like it was going to go on forever, since Apple kept tacking on more time to make up for having released a half-baked service to begin with. Sadly, not so. My own trial term recently came to an end, but by the time it did, I’d become fairly dependent on the service, so I quietly acquiesced while Apple charged my credit card for the full subscription.

Some others did not go so quietly, and promptly canceled their account rather than be caught paying. The result? All of their data not only no longer synced, it no longer existed. Part of the downfall of storing info in the cloud is that when you stop paying for said cloud, it has a very short memory. What had happened was that users who’d forgotten to disable sync in their devices’ settings had indeed synced. With their information gone from the MobileMe servers, what replaced it was blank information. Long story short, sync with nothing and you end up with nothing.

It looks like the only way to recover the data is to pay for a full year’s subscription, and then cancel said subscription. Alternatively, you can just remember to turn off MobileMe syncing before canceling your account, if you haven’t already done so.

I’m conflicted as to who’s to blame here, but I’d say Apple should probably have made people more aware that this sort of thing might happen if they didn’t continue their MobileMe subscription or at least disabled the ability to sync to the account. A perfect time to do so would’ve been in those reminder emails they send out shortly before your trial subscription runs out. As a cautionary tale, the whole mess is a good reminder that the cloud is not yet the be all and end all of computing.

  1. It would have been nice for Apple to send a reminder, but if we are talking “fault” it’s clearly the user. I’ve done some bonehead stuff like this myself in the past and you feel like an idiot when it happens, but there is no use blaming anyone else.

    Look at it this way, if you were hiring someone else to do this stuff for you like a secretary or something, you would blame the secretary (even though you would hopefully also be understanding and kind about it). It’s no one’s fault but the person who synced with da nothing.

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  2. When I discontinued my trial, MobileMe showed me a pop-up windows reminding me that all information would be deleted from the servers and that I should back up first and pointed to a MobileMe site explaining how to back up. Once the sync doesn’t work anymore, even if it had been all wiped, if one had done the backup that Apple recommends, nothing really happens – apart from the “annoyance” of restoring the information.
    I stopped the MobileMe trial (too expensive for the performance provided (accessing from Germany was quite slow) and the features offered) and nothing happened to the data on my MacBook or iPod.

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  3. Who in the hell would put “precious” files on a trial membership for Mobile Me??? When you try something out, you shouldn’t put anything critical on it. Jeez!!

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  4. This is inexcusable. It should just stop syncing – it should not suddenly think it’s syncing with an empty disk and wipe your files. It’s almost punitive.
    Check out Live Mesh (mesh.com), it’s basically iDisk that works and it’s free (and it has never lost any of my data). If you delete a folder from the cloud in mesh, it still exists on your local machines, it just stops syncing.

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  5. [...] Worth Reading? Apple’s MobileMe launch in 2008 was not the slick roll-out we’re all used to from the company.  Poor synchronization and general service instability prompted Apple to offer subscribers a full three months of free service (first a 30-day block, then a further 60-days).  Since then, things have been pretty quiet – which is really what you want from something like MobileMe – unless you’ve reached the end of your free trial and decide not to buy a subscription.  Then, many users are finding, not only your cloud but your local data can end up deleted. [...]

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  6. Any solution that is free should not ever be trusted as your sole method of backing up. If something happens, you have yourself to blame. The customer is ALWAYS responsible for backups. It is never the responsibility of the service provider.

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  7. I have to call BS. This is COMPLETELY the fault of the user(s). If you cancel MM the next time your Mac syncs not only does it tell you that your data will be removed but it pops up a LARGE sync window which WARNS YOU VERY CLEARLY that there is a more than 15% difference between MM and your local copy. Clicking the more info button reveals that your contacts, cal’s, etc. will be removed locally to match. It then gives you the option to stop syncing. This is in addition to the LARGE AND CLEAR warning that Apple gives you when you cancel Mobile Me.

    I get so sick of users doing incredibly dumb things and expecting Apple to nanny them to death – and then these so called blogs, yes you, repeat this crap as if it is anyone else’s fault but their own.

    Computers are not toasters, you do actually have to put some thought in to using them.

    Shame on the user for being so stupid to begin with, shame again for not having adequate backups. You have no one to blame but yourself!

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  8. Joe the Rotorooter Wednesday, January 14, 2009

    I agree with Dodson. All other syncing programs stop syncing when you cancel — no data loss. It is and should be expected that once the subscription is terminated, any attempts to sync will fail without the local/device files being modified.

    This is a problem unique to MobileMe. Which means its a problem with the program, not the user.

    (It is irrelevant that Apple tells you that your files will be removed — any sane user would assume that the cloud versions will be removed. It’s also ridiculous that Apple allows a sync to take place after said files have been removed from the cloud; any sane user would assume that meant a final sync before the files were removed.)

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  9. I would be laughing if it did not happen to me. I used an expiring card to get my trial version of mobile me. When it was time to charge my card, the trial simply expired since it could not charge it to my card. Nothing happened to my contacts…TILL, till I removed “mobile me” mail settings from my phone… Some people are talking about warnings signs, list of things that will replaced with nothing, well it did not show itself to me. It just made all my contacts Puff…Gone….I absolutely disagree with David. I do know that PC and Mac is not a toaster. At the time of disconnecting the service it should stop syncing, not sync your contacts to a new value (nothing) That is just wrong.

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    1. Ditto on this experience for me. Contacts gone on my iPhone. I am NOT happy. There was no warning or explanation that contacts which where there BEFORE I signed up for the MobileMe trial would be wiped out when I removed MobileMe from my phone. It’s total B.S. Most important, how do I get them back, now?

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