Airport Extreme and Time Machine

misterwebmaster

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 1, 2010
22
0
I am looking at getting an Airport Extreme, hooking it up to an external hard drive, and using this as my Time Machine drive. I understand that this is not officially supported by Apple. I am not interested in using a Time Capsule, because of numerous reports of overheating and malfunctions.

Could anyone who has an AE successfully linked to an external HD as a Time Machine drive please tell me how they did it, and how stable they think the hack is.

Thanks.
 

mstrze

macrumors 68000
Nov 6, 2009
1,916
0
I don't see any reason other than speed why you couldn't do this. There's no hack that I know of. I wasn't aware that Apple doesn't support this...maybe in the past, but no issues today.

Your first backup will take forever via wireless. You might want to connect your computer directly to your AEBS via ethernet for the first backup. Additional backups won't take long...as there is generally much less data to transfer. (MBs as opposed to GBs)
 

misterwebmaster

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 1, 2010
22
0
Apple latest support documents say while an attached external hard drive can be used as a networked drive, it will not work with Time Machine. They took away the functionality, presumably to protect Time Capsule sales.

My understanding is that there is a simple command line hack to allow AE to use an ext. HD as a TM, but the reference is dated, and I'm wondering how people who have tried it in the real world have fared, adn the exact procedures they used to get it working smoothly.
 

diamond.g

macrumors 603
Mar 20, 2007
6,361
311
Virginia
Apple latest support documents say while an attached external hard drive can be used as a networked drive, it will not work with Time Machine. They took away the functionality, presumably to protect Time Capsule sales.

My understanding is that there is a simple command line hack to allow AE to use an ext. HD as a TM, but the reference is dated, and I'm wondering how people who have tried it in the real world have fared, adn the exact procedures they used to get it working smoothly.
There is no hack needed. Just hook up an external drive, format it as HFS+ and then share it across the network. TM backups work just fine to it (I have been doing just that for about two months).
 

ellenm

macrumors member
Jan 3, 2010
32
0
I got this Lacie disk through Amazon. After setting up the the disk through the Lacie utility for Mac then all I had to do was mount the hard drive through Finder first and then run Time Machine. It recognized the drive without a problem. I ran my first backup connected through ethernet to Airport Extreme and now all other backups are wireless. It took about 3 hours to backup 40gb of data. If I had done it wirelessly it probably would have taken a night.

I've been running this setup for about a month and it has been working without a problem.

If that doesn't work here is a post from this forum that has the command line you are asking about http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=483621
 

misterwebmaster

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Mar 1, 2010
22
0
There is no hack needed. Just hook up an external drive, format it as HFS+ and then share it across the network. TM backups work just fine to it (I have been doing just that for about two months).
I came across this document saying it won't work, and the online Apple store questions and answers give different replies.

Sounds like it was no problem for you, Diamond, though. Do you like the set-up?

I'm considering hooking up multiple external HD's through a USB hub, and then having backups for the multiple macs in the household, and one general one for file sharing : ). If I do the original Time Machine backup through a USB connection, will TM recognize the drive once it is moved to the AE?
 

yoak

macrumors 65816
Oct 4, 2004
1,483
41
Oslo, Norway
Hi
I tried to back up over USB first, then attaching the drive to the AE. This didn't work for me, but when I did everything again over wireless it worked like a charm and still does. I'm using a 1T WD drive.
 

mstrze

macrumors 68000
Nov 6, 2009
1,916
0
If I do the original Time Machine backup through a USB connection, will TM recognize the drive once it is moved to the AE?
NO....it will have a different filepath and therefore not be recognized as the same drive. Therefore, doing your first backup with your computer and AEBS connected via ethernet cable is your best bet, as I already mentioned. That way, the filepath of your external is always 'listed' as being connected to your AEBS.

And as I think you are discovering, but are trying to fight it...there is no hack neccessary. This will and does work out of the box.
 

skorpien

macrumors 68020
Jan 14, 2008
2,337
0
To clarify any confusion, a hack used to be necessary, but ever since a particular firmware update (I can't recall which specifically), the AEBS has been able to support Time Machine through AirDisk out of the box. Although this was speculated to have been a mistake on Apple's part (debugging option accidentally left on when the firmware was made public), but as far as I know Apple will not revoke this change (let's face it, they'll have a LOT of angry customers on their hands). However, this is not officially supported by Apple and any attempt at getting help to set this up will result in them saying it's not supported and to buy a Time Capsule.

Secondly, Time Machine backs up completely differently to drives attached directly to a computer (be it internal, USB or FW) than to a network attached storage drive. On the NAS, a sparsebundle image is created on the drive to which it copies the files, whereas with a drive connected directly the files are copied over into a folder I believe.

So to reiterate what others have already said, yes it will work, no hack is necessary, USB first then connecting won't work and do your initial backup via Ethernet.
 

macphd

macrumors newbie
Sep 15, 2009
2
0
What about laptops?

I'm considering adding an external hard drive to my AEBS for use exclusively as a Time Machine drive for two MacBooks. I see references to the fact that the drive must be mounted in Finder for this to work. What happens when you take the laptop away from the network for a while then bring it back? Do you get one of those messages telling you you should have dismounted the drive first? Will it re-mount automatically when it's back in the network?

I also saw in another thread that some hard drives will power up and down automatically as needed. Can anyone confirm this and advise as to which ones do and is this as good an idea as it seems?
 

name99

macrumors 6502a
Jun 21, 2004
598
331
I'm considering adding an external hard drive to my AEBS for use exclusively as a Time Machine drive for two MacBooks. I see references to the fact that the drive must be mounted in Finder for this to work. What happens when you take the laptop away from the network for a while then bring it back? Do you get one of those messages telling you you should have dismounted the drive first? Will it re-mount automatically when it's back in the network?

I also saw in another thread that some hard drives will power up and down automatically as needed. Can anyone confirm this and advise as to which ones do and is this as good an idea as it seems?
Guys, you are all being way too ridiculous about this.
Apple WANTS THIS TO WORK PROPERLY, and therefore (unless you encounter a bug) IT DOES WORK PROPERLY.

(a) Format a drive as JHFS+.
(b) Connect it to your network in some fashion. It can be connected to some other mac and shared. It can be connected to an Airport Base Station with USB. Whatever.
(c) On your mac that you want to back up, mount the drive of interest. If it's connected to a base station, you will see the base station in the list of computers that are offering file sharing. Choose it, and click on the drive of interest.
(d) Tell Time Machine on the source mac to use this remote drive for backups.
(e) After this, things will just work.

In particular:
- when a backup needs to happen, the remote drive will be mounted, will be backed up to, and will be unmounted. No passwords or anything else, it will just happen automatically. Likewise if you shut down the portable or put it to sleep during a backup, the right thing will happen --- the remote drive will be unmounted, then remounted and the backup continue when the machine wakes up.

- a network backup (for various good reasons) is constructed using a "fake file system" on the remote drive, not the "raw" file system. What this means, practically, is that when you use Finder to look at a time machine backup connected via USB, you see a whole bunch of files representing all the backed up files. When you look at a time machine backup made over the network, you see a single very large file called backupname.sparsebundle.
(If you need to look inside this file, double click, and wait a while for it to "open"). THIS, not any evil or stupidity on Apple's part, is why you can't do an initial backup using USB or firewire, then connect the backup drive to the network.

- I don't know about the most recent AEBS, but the previous generation (and presumably even earlier) utilize truly crappy USB technology, technology so bad you wonder where Apple got it from, which gives the USB connection to the drive a speed of around 6 MB/s (maybe 8MB/s for short bursts). Given how pathetically slow this is, it doesn't much matter whether you run the first back up over wireless or ethernet --- it's going to take a day or more either way.
[I've no idea if Time Capsule has a faster connection to disk, so that it can connect to disk at wire speed --- say 60MB/s+ over gig ethernet.
I imagine that if you used for network backups a disk connected to a mac, you would get performance closer to what you would hope for --- the minimum of what the disk itself or the network connection deliver ---- but for various reasons related to saving energy and suchlike, I did not adopt that configuration for my MacBook Air backup --- backing up at 6MB/s over wireless works acceptably for me, for the low data volumes involved.]
 

name99

macrumors 6502a
Jun 21, 2004
598
331
Oh, followup to my last reply.

You can also backup multiple machines to a single network drive. This works fine but I do not know what happens when the disk space runs out. I assume something sensible, but I don't know exactly how Time Machine negotiates how much space to devote to each backup.
My plan (once this occurs and I have seen what happens) is that I will probably partition the backup disk into multiple partitions, one for each backup, at the size I think makes the most sense, then run each backup to a different partition, so I, rather than Time Machine, am controlling how the space is allocated between the backups of different machines.
 

uvrower

macrumors newbie
Aug 8, 2010
3
0
Cannot find/mount drive connected to AE

Following the recommendations in this thread, I bought a Seagate Free Agent Desk for MAC. All connected to Airport Extreme and cannot find drive on my Mac, nothing shows up in finder. How do I find it and mount it? Thanks
 

skorpien

macrumors 68020
Jan 14, 2008
2,337
0
Following the recommendations in this thread, I bought a Seagate Free Agent Desk for MAC. All connected to Airport Extreme and cannot find drive on my Mac, nothing shows up in finder. How do I find it and mount it? Thanks
Did you share it using AirPort Utility?
 

diamond.g

macrumors 603
Mar 20, 2007
6,361
311
Virginia
I came across this document saying it won't work, and the online Apple store questions and answers give different replies.

Sounds like it was no problem for you, Diamond, though. Do you like the set-up?

I'm considering hooking up multiple external HD's through a USB hub, and then having backups for the multiple macs in the household, and one general one for file sharing : ). If I do the original Time Machine backup through a USB connection, will TM recognize the drive once it is moved to the AE?
I like the setup. My wife doesn't have to think about it. So I know her stuff gets backed up more regularly than if I were to have to get her to plug it in.
 

uvrower

macrumors newbie
Aug 8, 2010
3
0
Thanks!

Thanks Skorpien. The problem was that it would not show up anywhere- finder-desktop-airport extreme. Several attempts at plugging into the airport extreme, then the PC, then unplug the drive, all in different order..... Finally showed up in Finder after 15 minutes of trying. Backing up now over lan. So glad its working, don't care if it takes forever.

Thanks again from an apple novice
 

slapguts

macrumors 6502a
Jan 10, 2008
661
0
I've been using this exact set-up for almost a year. It works flawlessly.

I even recently did a full "Restore from Back-up" using it.
 

diamond.g

macrumors 603
Mar 20, 2007
6,361
311
Virginia
I've been using this exact set-up for almost a year. It works flawlessly.

I even recently did a full "Restore from Back-up" using it.
I have done that on my spouses Macbook. It didn't have wireless N so it took forever. Now that all our notebooks have wireless N, backup and restore times are dramatically better.
 

lawrencebosox45

macrumors newbie
May 13, 2009
2
0
I've done all the suggestions and have set up time machine backups over an airport extreme (N with gigabit ethernet model + seagate freeagent desk for mac 2TB FW/USB model) and it works well. the tip about starting a backup out over the wireless network then switching over to a firewire (or any wired connection) really speeds up the process.

but eventually the system goes buggy. the external hd goes to sleep and can't be accessed without unplugging it and powering it up again. or you can do another cumbersome way and restarting the airport extreme with the airport utility (at least its a wireless method).

after a couple failures to back up, the succeeding backups become to large (in the over 1gig range) to the point that every backup leads to failure and you have to just switch it over to a physically wired backup defeating the whole purpose.

i'm using the latest firmware for my macbook pros and airport extreme, and read over/tested all the apple support forums experimenting with previous firmwares to no avail. eventually the setup with an airport extreme and external HD will just fail over the network forcing you to back up manually though a cable.
 

timeshifter

macrumors newbie
Sep 30, 2010
3
0
It worked fine for me until I started having more than one Mac backing up to the drive. After several months (once the drive started getting full) the sparsebundle appeared to have become corrupted and wouldn't mount. I repartitioned the drive and started over. After several months the same problem occurred. Then I tried partitioning the drive with a separate partition for each Mac to back up to. It has worked great ever since.
 

Fletch1976

macrumors newbie
Dec 3, 2010
2
0
Drives not showing in disk utility

Hey - does anyone know how to get drives attached to airport extreme to show up in disk utility? They show up everywhere else: finder and all applications - all I see is that the "mount point: /" which I can then select and navigate to airport extreme and then the drive in question but I cannot choose it for formatting. Please let me know if you have any tips on this. Thanks in advance.
 

skorpien

macrumors 68020
Jan 14, 2008
2,337
0
Hey - does anyone know how to get drives attached to airport extreme to show up in disk utility? They show up everywhere else: finder and all applications - all I see is that the "mount point: /" which I can then select and navigate to airport extreme and then the drive in question but I cannot choose it for formatting. Please let me know if you have any tips on this. Thanks in advance.
You can't. If you want them to show up in Disk Utility, you need to connect them directly to your Mac.
 

jeffnebraska

macrumors member
Apr 22, 2010
51
0
I am pretty new to Mac (six months) and am getting an AEBS tonight.

I already have a drive functioning as a USB Time Machine backup, but this thread makes it pretty clear that I will need to reformat that drive and start again with it plugged into my AEBS.

Can someone point me to a step-by-step thread on formatting the drive before I start trying to do my first Time Machine backup?

Thanks.
 

skorpien

macrumors 68020
Jan 14, 2008
2,337
0
I am pretty new to Mac (six months) and am getting an AEBS tonight.

I already have a drive functioning as a USB Time Machine backup, but this thread makes it pretty clear that I will need to reformat that drive and start again with it plugged into my AEBS.

Can someone point me to a step-by-step thread on formatting the drive before I start trying to do my first Time Machine backup?

Thanks.
Open up Disk Utility. Select drive. Select the Erase tab. Make sure Volume Format is Mac OS Extended (Journaled). Click Erase.

You have the option to name your drive before you click Erase. And if you want to zero out the data, click Security Options and select the appropriate option before erasing the drive.