Apple is offering .Mac members a free copy of StickyBrain 2 and a beta version of Backup 2.

The company hopes these releases will help persuade indecisive subscribers to maintain their .Mac accounts.

Backup 2 is a forthcoming new version of Apple's free to .Mac members backup and archiving utility. This release introduces the much-requested ability to back up data to external hard drives, including FireWire hard drives, iPods and network servers. Apple says: "Backup 2 Public Beta lets you select any folder on any hard drive as a destination for your backup.

Apple has also extended the utilities ability to archive to CD and DVD. Until now the software only allowed users to backup using built-in Apple optical drives. This version allows users to archive using external drives. It also introduces the capacity to mix different optical disk types in a single backup set. The company is welcoming feedback on the new software during the beta-testing period.

The company is also offering a free copy of Chronos Software's StickyBrain 2 to .Mac members – but this is only available until October 1.

StickyBrain is an organization tool that can store text, graphics, URLs and more as StickyBrain notes. The product, which Macworld US has called the "best business productivity software" usually costs $40. .Mac members are also being offered a $10 discount against the purchase of Chronos' F10 Launch Studio software, which is designed as a one-stop starting point for users to access all their applications and documents.

More information about StickyBrain is available from Chronos.

Apple launched a cut-price .Mac membership deal earlier this week in which customers buying a new Mac can claim £20 against a year's subscription to the service, which usually costs £69.

Apple is also offering free 60-day trials of the service to Macworld Online readers.