Can I add a HDD to an Airport Extreme?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Outkast27, Feb 9, 2013.

  1. Outkast27 macrumors 6502

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    #1
    Can I add a external hard drive to a airport extreme so it functions like a time capsule?
     
  2. glenthompson macrumors 68000

    glenthompson

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    #2
    You can add the drive and Time Machine will work with it but is not supported. At some point, the TM backup will probably fail and need to be rebuilt.
     
  3. MikesGravity macrumors 6502

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    #3
    I don't buy what Glen said above. You can use an external with an Airport Extreme just fine, I have been for years, wirelessly.
     
  4. PinoyAko macrumors 6502

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    #4
    Yes, you can. I have been doing this for more than a year. Works great!
     
  5. Outkast27 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #5
    Where can I get instructions on how to set this up? I plugged in my hd to my extreme and dont see it on my mac. I turned on time machine on my mac and it opens my network but I dont know what to do from there.
     
  6. Gav2k macrumors G3

    Gav2k

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    #6
    Launch the airport utility and look in there. You need to share the drive and set up a password then it'll show up in finder
     
  7. Outkast27 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #7
    I assume I click my extreme, edit, then im not sure where to go from there....?
     
  8. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #8
    Good that it is working for you, but Apple explicitly says not to do this. It seems to work fine for some users, but for others it is erratic and sometimes just stops working.

    You can see here that Time Machine on an external USB drive is not supported on an Airport Extreme. Also, Lion and Mountain Lion help warn against it.

    [​IMG]

    I don't mean to imply in any way you gents are being untruthful, it is just not a solution I would trust my backups to.

    OP>> If you still want to run with this, here is a step by step how to do it. Just note the author also recommends against it.
     
  9. bobr1952 macrumors 68020

    bobr1952

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    #9
    I agree to a point but he is right that it is not supported. So it may fail in which case you won't have your time machine data. Of course your time capsule--or a connected external time machine drive may fail too in which case you are also out of luck. I had used an external drive connected to my time capsule to act as my new rMBP time machine but then decided to archive the time machine data that was there and use the time capsule drive for my rMBP--it is the supported way and probably safest in the long run.

    As for setting it up--it is very easy. When you Open Time Machine Properties--it will show all connected drives that can serve as a time machine drive including network drives. You just select the external drive connected to your Airport and run though the other menu items and time machine should start and make the first backup to your external drive connected to your Airport Extreme. If I didn't have a time capsule, that is the way I would do it. Be sure your external drive is formatted correctly as Mac-OS Extended (Journaled)
     
  10. Outkast27 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #10
    I have another question, but Im not sure where to ask it, so I will take my chances here. I need to format my ext hd since it was last used on windows. What is the best way to transfer its contents to another drive other than drag and drop? It seems drag and drop is not that reliable. I got a lot of this file can not be transferd,skip or rety? so I clicked skip all, a few hours later I came back and the process was frozen. Is there a more efficient way to clone a drive?
     
  11. bobr1952 macrumors 68020

    bobr1952

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    #11
    I use Super Duper to copy drives. I do that not only for my internal drive on my rMBP but also for my iTunes library. That drive does run off of my time capsule so I just disconnect it from the network when I went to back it up and connect it to my computer and clone it to another drive with Super Duper.
     
  12. Ledgem macrumors 65816

    Ledgem

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    #12
    Glen was specifically talking about using the external for Time Machine backups. Aside from being unsupported, a number of users reported having problems with time (corrupt backups, Time Machine not working properly) - they would then have to restart their backups from scratch.

    There were also reports that backups made over wireless are different than backups made with the device plugged into the computer. In other words, if you're backing up wirelessly and then decide to switch back to plugging in directly, you'll need to start over.

    The big deal here isn't that you need to start your backups from scratch, but that the backup seems to corrupt over time. What's the point of backing up if it isn't reliable? If Time Machine is your primary source of data redundancy, it's better not to take unnecessary risks.

    I second Super Duper! for cloning drives. The free version will get the job done for simple cloning; the paid version offers you some more advanced features that would be useful if you used it to make backups regularly.
     
  13. Orlandoech macrumors 68040

    Orlandoech

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    #13
    Not true at all.
     
  14. SandboxGeneral Moderator

    SandboxGeneral

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    #14
    Can you provide some supporting evidence for your statement, please?
     
  15. bogatyr macrumors 65816

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    #15
    Errr... seems to be true that while it can work, some have experienced failures over time.

    OWC:
    http://blog.macsales.com/12547-airport-apparently-not-the-best-place-for-time-machine

    Another blog post:
    http://eggfreckles.com/notes/time-machine-on-airdisk-does-not-fly/

    And the source for both posts' quote:
    http://forums.macresource.com/read.php?1,1260514,1260635

    Up to the OP if this is the route he wants to go but for me, I wasn't willing to trust my backups to something that might have issues when I really need it to work. And yes, I know all hard drives can fail (i.e. time capsule), however this method seems to be more error prone.
     
  16. PinoyAko macrumors 6502

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    #16
    I saw that before that it was unsupported but well, it works for me. It saved me a couple of times already. I think Apple is saying that it is unsupported because they want to imply that people should buy a Time Capsule.

    To the OP, go ahead and still do this as it really works but what I would recommend is to Time Machine your computer on a USB drive for your peace of mind.

    Out of Topic:

    I have 3 back-ups (OCD?)

    1) Time Machine backup with a hard-drive attached to my Airport Extreme.
    2) Time Machine backup on a USB portable HDD.
    3) File backups on a drive formatted on a NTFS format (just in case my iMac and MBP fails) or if I want to access my files on a Windows computer.

    The Windows formatted drive is stored in a bank safety deposit box which I update every 3 months.
     
  17. Outkast27 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #17
    What type of work do you do?
     
  18. Ledgem macrumors 65816

    Ledgem

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    #18
    The word that's passed around is that Apple didn't originally warn against using an Airport Extreme-connected drive as a Time Machine backup. They added it once people began to have problems with their Time Machine backups. It's quite possible that Apple chose not to investigate and resolve the problem in the hopes that people would pay more and purchase a Time Capsule, but I wouldn't say that the problem didn't exist.

    I'd love to set this up for me and my wife, but I've held off on it because of the reports of issues. Out of curiosity, how long have you been using your Time Machine drive through the Airport Extreme? Did you do anything special, such as placing the backup directory in a sparse bundle image, or are you backing up directly to the bare drive?
     
  19. PinoyAko, Feb 10, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2013

    PinoyAko macrumors 6502

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    #19
    I am a Software Developer and photo and video enthusiast. :)

    I was just traumatized when my backup failed some years ago that is why I backup my files that much.

    ----------

    I really didn't do anything special. I just attached the USB HDD in the Extreme. Doing that will make that HDD available for your use in Time machine.

    But again, as other was saying we just need to be cautious and do not rely to it as it is not supported by the Airport Extreme but it really works for me very very well for the past years.
     
  20. NewishMacGuy macrumors 6502a

    NewishMacGuy

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    Aug 2, 2007
    #20
    ...just like some people experience failures with every other method of backup known to man.

    I've used both regular TM to an attached external drive & DIY Time Capsule (attaching an external HDD to an AE) over the last several years across multiple versions of OSX and a couple of different AEs.

    The latter method has proved no less reliable except that your backup disk is somewhat less accessible because your network can go down from time-to-time. That being said, it will be more accessible on the whole than using a wired solution with a laptop that you carry around the house with you, and thus yield you more frequent backups.

    The frequent (hourly) use of wifi to transmit backup data does (theoretically) have more potential to corrupt files than with a wired solution, but there's no reason why that would happen any more frequently than with a Time Capsule. In either case, you can reduce the unnecessary backup frequency with a little utility called Time Machine Editor. I use it to do daily TM backups for all our computers, even the ones with direct connected external HDDs.

    I think its probably safe to assume that Apple doesn't support the external Time Capsule solution because it directly undermines the extra $100-150 worth of profit that they have built into the 2 & 3TB Time Capsules.


    ___
     
  21. Outkast27 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #21
    Can I transfer files to the time machine, without having them remain on my mbp? Wirelessly that is.
     
  22. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #22
    Yes. You will see it in the Finder sidebar.
     
  23. Outkast27 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #23
    Im aware Im going off topic here but, how do I format a hd so the contents can not be recovered? What I mean is I have used software that allowed me to recover data from a hd that had been formatted. Is there a safer way to format a hd so the data can not be recovered? I intend on selling the hd on cl.
     
  24. Outkast27 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #24
    Also, can files like movies be accessed from my iPad from the time machine?
     
  25. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #25
    Just use Disk Utility to do a "secure erase". You can see a walkthru here.

    ----------

    You can use an iOS app like FileBrowser to see files on the Time Capsule.
     

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