Airport Time Capsule or Router/HD Setup?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by NativeTxn, Dec 6, 2013.

  1. NativeTxn macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2013
    #1
    I am in the market for a new router, as the one I have is about 7 years old and it is requiring more and more frequent resets to maintain connections, stability, etc.

    In the family, we have the following devices:

    15" rMBP (late 2013)
    iPhone 5
    iPad 2
    Samsung Galaxy S3
    Nexus 7 (original)

    I want to have a setup where there is an ongoing/continuous backup of my rMBP, but also one that my wife (iPhone 5 and iPad) could use to save pics, videos, etc.

    I am new to the Mac world on the computer side (having used PCs for the better part of my life), and I was contemplating the Airport Time Capsule (I like the simplicity of having both the router and HD in one device and I've heard that it is exceedingly easy to set up and works very well with iOS/OSX devices).

    But I was also wondering if it would be better and/or more versatile to get a separate router and hard drive (for example, an ASUS RT-AC66U and a WD My Book - or something similar, as I'm not married to either of these particular items). Then you can choose the specific router and hard drive, and if one goes bad, you only have to replace it if the other is still working.

    So, I defer to those on this forum for their thoughts (e.g. on whether the TC is worth it and how it compares to a separate router/HD setup) and opinions/suggestions (e.g. if you would recommend the separate router/HD setup, what specific options you would suggest).

    Thank you in advance.
     
  2. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #2
    There are some aftermarket routers that will work with Time Machine for backup, but the issue is none of them are officially supported by Apple. The result of that is often OS X upgrades will break compatibility with that router's Time Machine functionality and you have to wait for the router manufacturer to update firmware to fix the problem.

    While it is not the cheapest solution, the Time Capsule works well and is supported by Apple. If you can swing the cost, the TC really is the simplest solution.

    There is no way by default to save pics/vids/data directly from and iPhone or iPad directly to a Time Capsule or any other storage device for that matter. There are some aftermarket iOS apps that will do this though.
     
  3. hipnetic macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2010
    #3
    I have a similar question. I have an always-on desktop PC running Windows 7. I also have 2 MacBooks and have never used any sort of backup routine. Very soon I will be getting my rMBP delivered and will be giving my MacBook Air to my daughter for Xmas. I'd like us all to make use of the Time Machine functionality built into our Macs, and based on my reading of the built-in Help, it sounds like I should be able to point them to a shared hard drive on my Windows 7 PC. Is that correct?
     
  4. priitv8 macrumors 68020

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    Estonia
    #4
  5. hipnetic macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 5, 2010
    #5
    So, shortly after posting my last reply, I tried clicking a bit deeper inside of my Mac settings and discovered that it didn't see my shared drives on my Windows 7 computer. A little more Googling revealed that it wanted an HFS+ drive.

    Thanks for the reply. That article looks pretty old, though. I'm wondering if it still holds true. Another idea I have, though, would be to get the new Extreme, plug in one of my older drives (reformatted as HFS+) to its USB 2.0 port. The downside would be that transfers would be a good deal slower (based on what I've read), but OTOH, if I ever needed to do a restore, I'm pretty sure I can just unplug the drive and connect it to my MacBook directly, in which case the restore would actually be faster than it would with a Time Capsule. Have I got that right?

    Now, my other dilemma is deciding whether I really want to go with Apple's 802.11ac solution (Airport Extreme) vs one of the competitors. I'm leaning towards Apple, but a little frustrated that even with this latest iteration, they're only offering 3 ethernet ports and it lacks some advanced options (specifically, no QoS).
     
  6. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #6
    Not exactly. When you use TM over the network it puts the backup inside a sparse bundle image and that cannot be directly accessed when attached via USB. There is a workaround here where you can attach the networked drive to local USB then open the sparse bundle and copy the backup set out of the sparse bundle, but if you have a large backup this is going to take some time. Possibly more time than if you just restored over the network I suspect.

    Same thing goes the other way. You can't start a TM backup over USB then move it over to a networked TM backup because of this different storage method used for TM network backups.
     
  7. priitv8 macrumors 68020

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    Jan 13, 2011
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    Estonia
    #7
    For the most part, the important hack was to write a value to let TM to also consider "unsupported" drives as backup targets. IMHO it's still relevant, if your file server does not comply with service advertisement requirements set forth in Time Machine Network Interface Specification (TMNIS).
    The second major part - creation of a sparsebundle as TM disk image - I would assume TM will create this image by itself, if it finds the share suitable.
    At any rate, you will need AFP 3.3 or later implemented on your Windows server, because TM network backup is exclusively dependent on specific features of the protocol. More details are available in Wikipedia.
     
  8. hipnetic macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 5, 2010
    #8
    Thanks for the added info. Well, that's a bummer. Seems like an unnecessary bit of complexity that Apple introduced into the mix. So, just out of curiosity…if you had an extra external 1TB drive lying around (and didn't need more than 1TB of storage to handle your backup needs), would you opt for the AirPort Extreme or would you still pay extra for a Time Capsule?
     
  9. priitv8 macrumors 68020

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    #9
    Well, it's the Apple way: the apparent simplicity for the user hides lots of complexity, mostly in software in Apple's creations.

    With current crop of AirPorts there is no big difference (apart from USB2.0 vs SATA speed difference in accessing the disk). Both are officially supported as TM targets and price diff is exactly the price of missing drive. If you go with the AP TimeCapsule, you can use your USB drive as 2nd share, for a kind of mini-NAS. This will also keep TM backups separate from file shares, as you can't partition the APTC's internal drive.
    For all previous versions, I have found it out the hard way, you need to take TimeCapsule.
    Today, I have to add - almost - as my AirPort Extreme 4th Gen has not once given me that error. Yet.
     
  10. hipnetic macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 5, 2010
    #10
    Just so I'm understanding correctly…You're saying that I couldn't get a Time Capsule and use it for both Time Capsule backups *and* for shared file storage?
     
  11. priitv8 macrumors 68020

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    Jan 13, 2011
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    Estonia
    #11
    You could. There's no technical limitation. But operationally it will be easier if you keep backup volume separate from data volume.
    That's because data will eat into your backup space and TM starts to purge old backups if free space is out on the drive.
    You can't split the internal drive into separate volumes (ie partitions) on a TimeCapsule. Hence you connect an external to it.
     
  12. hipnetic macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2010
    #12
    I understand your point, but assuming that I wasn't worried about that (or managed it closely), does Apple make it easy to use some of the built-in storage for that purpose, or do you have to do a bit of "hacking" to be able to access in that way easily?
     
  13. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

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    Jan 23, 2005
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    #13
    It is very easy. Just make a folder on the Time Capsule drive and store whatever you want there.
     
  14. gguerini macrumors regular

    gguerini

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2007
    #14
    I recently bought the amazing Asus RT-N66U (actually the W (white) model). All the reviews of this router are incredible. Apparently it's one of the most capable router out there.

    So I got home super happy, installed everything.. and when I plugged my 3TB HD formatted as HFS+, it didn't work. :confused: Later I realized that the router only supports FAT, NTFS and exFAT. HFS+ is not compatible. That's a shame.

    Worse, the compatibility with 3TB+ HD is very iffy (or nonexistent). I had to install an alternative firmware (Merlin) that improves the support, but I still have to do a lot of stuff to make it work. I will try that tonight.

    On top of that, I will have to do a lot of hacking to TRY to use it with Time Machine, and install an app on my Mac to add writing support to NTFS. :(

    If it doesn't work out, I will probably return it and get an AirPort Extreme. I'm very disappointed.

    Does anybody have a better solution??
     
  15. priitv8 macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2011
    Location:
    Estonia
    #15
    Why would you need NTFS support for a network share? You'll be needing SMB protocol support (which you have), as that Asus probably won't speak AFP either.
    PS that alone voids the hope to get TimeMachine running.
     
  16. gguerini macrumors regular

    gguerini

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2007
    #16
    That's a good point. It's a network share so I should be able to write/read on NTFS from my Mac. About getting TimeMachine to work... apparently it is possible:

    Take a look at this link: http://rajiv.sg/blog/2012/11/19/con...ion-time-machine-to-work-with-cifs-smb-share/

    I will try over the weekend and let you guys know if it works.
     

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