Best Time Machine solution for two Macs?

Best Time Machine solution for two Macs?

  • USB HDD connected to Netgear router

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • USB HDD Connected to iMac, then SMB share

    Votes: 1 50.0%
  • Other (Specify in comments?)

    Votes: 1 50.0%

  • Total voters
    2

MjWoNeR

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Feb 16, 2010
323
213
Sweden
Hello,

I have been using a Time Capsule for my Time Machine needs of the iMac.
Now the router part of the Time Capsule starts giving up after 6 years of non-stop operation, random restarts etc. so it is time for an upgrade.

Seeing as Apple is out of the router business I am considering a Netgear Nighthawk X4S.
I just ordered a MacBook Air, so I am going to need something that backs up both my main computer, iMac, and my secondary, MacBook.

I could connect a HDD to the Netgear router but I've read comments that just sometimes backups fail?
Then I read that I could connect a USB HDD to the iMac and then share it with SMB so that the Macbook can use it for Time Machine wirelessly. The second choice means that the iMac must be on in order for the MacBook to use Time Machine, which is ok. The iMac is on 24/7.
 
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chown33

Moderator
Staff member
Aug 9, 2009
8,427
4,428
Pale blue comma
You could invest in a low-cost Network Attached Storage (NAS) device, and gain flexibility for the longer run.

For example, it can be left on and attached to network, regardless of any computers on the network, either now or in the future.

It can be upgraded in the future, regardless of how you're doing backups now. In some cases, you could simply move the disks from Old-NAS to New-NAS, and then change the target device on the computers using the NAS for backup.

Viability depends on your budget.
 

Brian33

macrumors 6502a
Apr 30, 2008
751
43
USA (Virginia)
I would continue to use the Time Capsule and just turn off its routing features. It works great for me!

If not that, then I’d do the share from the iMac. I would avoid the Netgear or NAS solutions because my understanding is that they require support from the third party to enable the TM backups to work correctly, increasing the chance that a bug or OS upgrade would cause a backup failure (IMHO).
 

MjWoNeR

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Feb 16, 2010
323
213
Sweden
I don’t want to invest in a NAS to be honest, and a USB HDD for the MacBook is a pain.

I’d like to reuse what I have. For example buy an enclosure for the 4TB WD Red I already have in the TC.

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202784

I would go with the networked iMac setup. Just based on forum posts I see here, the other two options are not very reliable for some reason.
You mean a USB HDD connected to the iMac and then shared, so that the MacBook can use it for backups?

I would continue to use the Time Capsule and just turn off its routing features. It works great for me!

If not that, then I’d do the share from the iMac. I would avoid the Netgear or NAS solutions because my understanding is that they require support from the third party to enable the TM backups to work correctly, increasing the chance that a bug or OS upgrade would cause a backup failure (IMHO).
I actually considered the Time Capsule with the router features turned off. But I became sceptical when I read this article and started thinking if there is a better option.

https://www.macworld.com/article/3311980/switch-away-from-time-capsule-to-time-machine-volumes.html

I also thought that maybe access to Time Machine could be faster over USB?
Gigabit Ethernet has been a bit slow for some reason.
 

Brian33

macrumors 6502a
Apr 30, 2008
751
43
USA (Virginia)
I actually considered the Time Capsule with the router features turned off. But I became sceptical when I read this article and started thinking if there is a better option.

https://www.macworld.com/article/3311980/switch-away-from-time-capsule-to-time-machine-volumes.html

Well, I don't really agree with that article, especially (what I perceive as) the implication that most people need to move away from the TC. It's not true that it has "An internal drive that you can’t physically remove or upgrade is a problem when it crashes or loses data." First, it's a backup -- you shouldn't be losing data if your backup drive dies because you still have your primary source. Second, with the guides on the Internet, the drive can pretty easily be removed for data recovery and/or replaced. I've swapped drives twice for each of two different models of Time Capsules as my capacity needs have changed. Granted, it's not as easy as plugging in a USB drive, though.

IMHO, other reasons he cites to switch I don't think apply to most people and maybe (?) not to you. (I.e., distributing backups for an office full of machines, rotation of backups to off-site locations [great idea, but I think few people do that].)

I'm not trying to insist that using the TC is the best choice for you -- using a USB drive on your iMac is a very reasonable choice.

(Ha ha, just thought of another option: if you want to use a new USB drive, you could plug it into the TC's USB port. Then your iMac wouldn't need to be on 24/7.)

I
I also thought that maybe access to Time Machine could be faster over USB?
Gigabit Ethernet has been a bit slow for some reason.
I think backups and restores would be somewhat faster over direct-attached USB, compared to the TC. TC does seem to have a pretty low bits-per-second backup speed. I've come to the conclusion that the bottleneck isnt the Ethernet or the HDD speed, but is in the electronics of the TC itself (e.g., the cpu speed or network interface speed). Not sure how often that would make a difference, though -- backups are fast enough and I rarely if ever restore large amounts of data.

Maybe you mean the speed at which the Time Machine interface populates with data. I wouldn't expect that to speed up much with the USB scenario because it doesn't involve transferring much data. I think the delay there is reading the huge number of files on the backup disk. I could well be wrong though -- maybe you can let us know.
 
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MjWoNeR

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Feb 16, 2010
323
213
Sweden
Well, I don't really agree with that article, especially (what I perceive as) the implication that most people need to move away from the TC. It's not true that it has "An internal drive that you can’t physically remove or upgrade is a problem when it crashes or loses data." First, it's a backup -- you shouldn't be losing data if your backup drive dies because you still have your primary source. Second, with the guides on the Internet, the drive can pretty easily be removed for data recovery and/or replaced. I've swapped drives twice for each of two different models of Time Capsules as my capacity needs have changed. Granted, it's not as easy as plugging in a USB drive, though.

IMHO, other reasons he cites to switch I don't think apply to most people and maybe (?) not to you. (I.e., distributing backups for an office full of machines, rotation of backups to off-site locations [great idea, but I think few people do that].)

I'm not trying to insist that using the TC is the best choice for you -- using a USB drive on your iMac is a very reasonable choice.

(Ha ha, just thought of another option: if you want to use a new USB drive, you could plug it into the TC's USB port. Then your iMac wouldn't need to be on 24/7.)



I think backups and restores would be somewhat faster over direct-attached USB, compared to the TC. TC does seem to have a pretty low bits-per-second backup speed. I've come to the conclusion that the bottleneck isnt the Ethernet or the HDD speed, but is in the electronics of the TC itself (e.g., the cpu speed or network interface speed). Not sure how often that would make a difference, though -- backups are fast enough and I rarely if ever restore large amounts of data.

Maybe you mean the speed at which the Time Machine interface populates with data. I wouldn't expect that to speed up much with the USB scenario because it doesn't involve transferring much data. I think the delay there is reading the huge number of files on the backup disk. I could well be wrong though -- maybe you can let us know.
Yeah I know the info in the article was kind of weird as I my self upgraded the time capsule to a WD Red 4TB, day 1. But it made me sceptical either way.

Backups and restores are slow, but they do not really affect me all that often. Backups run in the background and I've had two restores the last 5 years. So mostly better TM interface speed is what would actually be nice. But as you say, it might be the amount of data that make it slow.

Maybe the best solution is to actually use what I have and not just purchase new hardware in the hope of improvement. The TC does work for backups even though it does restart by itself from time to time.

So when I get the new router I will connect the TC by ethernet, turn off any routing features and use exclusively for TM until it stops doing what it is supposed to.
When it dies, if the HDD is still alive I will get an enclosure and connect it to the iMac by USB and use that for TM.

Thanks everyone!
 
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