One of the features of Mac OS X 10.5, Leopard, that was getting many people excited, was Back to My Mac. The service was designed to allow you to access your Macs at home, when you are on the road, or from work. However since its release, it seems that many users are having some serious problems trying to get it to work. (You only need to spend a few minutes in Apple discussions, or listen to MacBreak Weekly to find out…)
I say forget it! I recently installed LogMeIn Free on my MacBook Pro, a service I have used with Windows machines for years and it works brilliantly. If Back to My Mac is persuading you to buy a .Mac subscription, give LogMeIn a try first – after all it costs nothing, and it actually works, period.
Let me list three key improvements Apple would have to make for me to even think about using Back to My Mac.
- Tunnel the connections over a hosted SSL solution – in other words, you don’t need to map any ports in your NAT, or put holes in your firewall – you can have a guaranteed connection wherever your Mac access HTTPS websites. Where I live, there is a mandatory firewall on all incoming traffic, I can’t open any ports, so Back to My Mac would not work for me, where LogMeIn works perfectly.
- Add a Windows client – I only own one Mac – I can’t afford any more, just like I can’t afford a .Mac subscription. Therefore, I would likely be wanting to access my Mac from Windows machines, either from work, or any of the majority of computers in the world.
- In fact, why not do it through a web interface? – That way you don’t even need a specific Windows client, a web interface would allow you to control your Mac from nearly any web browser in the world. If I’m at an internet kiosk, or other location where downloading/installing software isn’t possible, and/or where strict outbound firewalls are in place, I could just rock straight onto my Mac (of course using an on-screen keyboard to type passwords!) as fast as opening my Gmail.
Back to My Mac is fundamentally flawed in their decision not to have a hosted SSL solution for it, and for the fact you can only use it from other Macs.
Wake me up when Apple start to do things right again; I’m already being driven insane as it is by their AirPort AirDisk botch-ups!!