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Alternatives to MobileMe for iWeb Sites

After Apple’s recent confirmation of the worst fears of iWeb users – that the hosting of iWeb sites as part of MobileMe will disappear on 30 June 2012 (see “Apple Details Transition from MobileMe to iCloud,” 24 June 2011), many readers of my “Take Control of iWeb ’09” ebook contacted me to find out where they should move their sites. There are a couple of options, depending on how serious your site is, and whether or not you have a custom domain.

Sites with Custom Domains — For anyone with a unique (non-MobileMe) domain name or with a high-traffic Web site, my recommendation is to bite the bullet and sign up for a paid Web hosting account with a known hosting provider. The Web hosting provider you select is up to you, but some of the better-known hosts include DreamHost, Bluehost, HostGator, and GoDaddy. Prices start around $5 per month.

Once your new host has provided you with login information, launch iWeb and select your Web site in the sidebar to reveal the Site Publishing Settings for that site. You’ll need to enter the site name, your contact email address, and information (server address, user name, password, and initial path) for the FTP server associated with your site.

Provide the site URL (which is used to set up links and RSS feeds) and decide whether or not you’d like to update your Facebook account each time you publish your site, and click Test Connection to make sure that all of your settings are correct. If they are, you’re ready to publish your iWeb site to the new host with a click of the Publish Site button.

You’ll also need to repoint your custom domain appropriately; contact tech support at your new hosting company if you need help doing that.

Sites in the MobileMe Domain — If you’ve been happy with a MobileMe URL like and don’t have significant traffic to your site, then a free hosting solution is probably all you need. The easiest is cloud storage provider Dropbox, which offers free 2 GB accounts that provide plenty of storage space for all but the largest iWeb sites. Follow along for a short tutorial on how to set up Dropbox and iWeb to host your iWeb sites.

One caveat: Although the suggestion for Web site hosting comes directly from the Dropbox wiki, the service is not intended for “production” Web hosting. A few personal pages or a testing site shouldn’t cause you any grief, but Dropbox does reserve the right to turn off your public links if the system detects unusual levels of bandwidth consumption.

  1. To begin with, you must have a Dropbox account. If you don’t have one, go to Dropbox’s home page and download the Dropbox software, install it, and set up your account. I also suggest watching the video on the Dropbox home page to understand the concept behind the application and service.

    (In essence, Dropbox mirrors the contents of the Dropbox folder in your home folder to the Dropbox servers, and syncs all changes to files in that folder up to Dropbox’s servers, and then down to all your other devices. If you share a folder with other people, their copies of documents in that shared folder are synchronized on every save as well.)

  2. Once you’ve installed the Dropbox software and have familiarized yourself with it, you’re ready to roll. In the Finder, open your Dropbox folder and notice that Dropbox has created some folders for you, including Public. Open Public and create a new folder inside it to hold your site. You can name it anything you want. For this example, I named mine “web”.

  3. Open iWeb and select your Web site in the sidebar to reveal the Site Publishing Settings.

  4. Choose Local Folder from the Publish To pop-up menu.

  5. Enter the name for your site and your contact email address, and then click Choose Folder Location.

  6. Navigate to the folder that you created in Step 2, then click Choose:

  7. For now, that’s it. If your Web site is ready to publish, click the Publish Site button at the bottom of the iWeb window. This will publish the site files to the ~/Dropbox/Public/web folder. Within a few seconds or minutes, depending on your connection speed and the size of your site, those files are synced to your Dropbox account “in the cloud.”

  8. Back in the Finder, navigate to the ~/Dropbox/Public/web folder, and inside it you’ll see an index.html file. Control-click that file and from the hierarchical Dropbox menu in the pop-up menu that appears, choose Copy Public Link to put the link in the Clipboard. That’s the URL at which your Web site can be reached, and you can send it to friends or clients to show them the site.

  9. One more step! To make sure all your links work properly, go back to the Site Publishing Settings in iWeb for your site. See that big, empty space where it says Website URL? Paste the URL that you copied in Step 8 into that field and then delete the index.html at the end of the URL. That address is the root URL for your new site. Click Publish Site again to republish your site, then go admire your handiwork by pasting the previously copied link into your Web browser.

While I didn’t have time to check all of the widgets and features that are part of iWeb ’09, all of those I was using on my sample site, including Countdown Timer and HTML Snippets, worked perfectly when served via Dropbox. Any feature that uses a server-side capability specific to MobileMe will not work, so be sure to test your site functionality on Dropbox before sending out the URL.

[Steve Sande is Features Editor for The Unofficial Apple Weblog ( and the author of “Take Control of iWeb ’09.” His other titles include “Taking Your iPad 2 to the Max,” “Taking Your iPhone 4 to the Max,” and the upcoming “Taking Your Mac OS X Lion to the Max,” all from Apress.]

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