Completely Disappointed with Airport Extreme

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by ddeadserious, Aug 22, 2009.

  1. ddeadserious macrumors 6502a


    Jul 28, 2008
    Plymouth, MI
    Here is our setup in our household:
    • 13" MBP
    • 13" Blackbook
    • 13" White Macbook
    • 12" PB
    • 15" Dell Junk Notebook
    • 15" Toshiba Junk Notebook
    • Windows Desktop Computer(attached via ethernet)
    • Powermac G4(attached via ethernet)
    • 500GB NAS(attached via ethernet)
    • Nintendo Wii
    • 2x Nintendo DS's
    • Nintendo DSi
    • Airport Extreme Dual Band
    • Linksys WRT54G Router

    Everything is wireless other than the desktops. I was quite content with the router we had, a Linksys WRT54G. It never had any problems with anything, just didn't have all of the features I desired.

    I bought the Airport Extreme for 2 main reasons: Wireless-N, and Wireless Time Machine Backups.

    This thing has proved to be a pain in the ass to configure and get working properly. Nothing I'd ever expect to be put out by Apple.

    I excitedly came out and hooked everything up, set it up, and got my MBP up and running, tested it on the 12" PB, and all was good so I assumed it would be good for everything else.

    Well, my father had connection issues with the Windows laptops, but those were resolved by deleting their previous network and setting this one up fresh. No big deal.

    None of the DS's will connect with the security that I have on(just WPA), and it seems that this is going to be the ongoing case, google yields few positive results. Sounds like the Wii will be a problem too, but I haven't tried it.

    Sooooo plan B - set up the Linksys router again and use the Airport Extreme as a bridge, effectively have 2 home wireless networks, sounds good to me.

    Well, this works just fine, but the wireless-n is not noticeably faster at all, and the Time Machine Airdisk thing is painfully slow(nearly useless seeming).

    I let it sit overnight(literally 12 hours) to do my 102GB Time Machine backup, and it got 19GB done and apparently got hung up somewhere along the night, because it just sat there and never moved again. Cool.

    I am running it with a 2.4GHz network and a separate 5GHz network, but they don't seem any different.

    I'm honestly considering just selling this and going back to my Linksys router, just because this seems like a waste of my money.

    Was I expecting too much out of this?
  2. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    Some random comments / suggestions...

    - I had a terrible time with Apple routers and Windows XP / SP2 ... I'm not sure what you're running... SP3 handled them with much more aplomb. I'm not sure why, honestly... seemed to have to do with WPA handling in SP2.

    - The DS has never, ever, handled WPA on any router by any manufacturer, has it? They just plain do not support WPA. Unless something has changed? I'm not sure why you expected that to work? I'm not sure what is a good option for this, but things people have been doing if they're security conscious include setting up an appropriate temp network that's broadcast from a wired PC and just turning it on when they play DS, or if you have an extra router anyway, setting up a MAC filtered temp network on it with WEP.... But that issue is Nintendo's and not Apple's, AFAIK. And given that it's been a known issue for five years now....

    - The time machine part I can't honestly give you any guidance on...It sounds pretty terrible. I know I hate it when I let something go overnight and wake up to find it locked.

    My personal advice (i.e. what I told my mother last time she asked) is not to bother with 802.11n right now... you have a good router in the Linksys. I personally have an 802.11g router -- an AEBS -- and it's been working since 2003 and I have no imminent plans to replace it.

    In your case, you're doing stuff like wireless backups that would really benefit from having a router. OTOH, to be honest, you're dropping a new router into a really, really complicated setup (I don't know anyone who has that much gear in one home... not that that's an excuse, but everyone I know who's got that much hardware on a network has a paid IT professional too!), so it might just be really complicated unless you pare down the setup. That is, leave the Linksys in place, pick a couple test computers, get them running on the AEBS fully to your satisfaction (including the wireless speed, etc), and then slowly add hardware onto the network and re-check.
  3. Gee macrumors 65816

    Feb 27, 2004
    London, UK
    You might be better off doing your first time machine back-up using a cable - it's gonna be a lot faster.

    Also, did you reformat the disk you're using for backup to HFS? If you have a fat32 disk, it will occasionally fall over (i.e. hang) when you have a file with non-standard characters in the name, or I think if a single file is over 4gb (like a parallels virtual hard disk)

    As the poster above says, the Wii/DS issues sound like Nintendo's archaic networking set-up not your new router.
  4. ddeadserious thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Jul 28, 2008
    Plymouth, MI
    First off, thank you guys for reading my long post and taking the time to respond.

    Both of the Windows machines on wireless are running Vista, the desktop is running XP SP3. The Windows machines are not a problem now, the issue was a user error, I only noted it because it added to my frustration.

    The game boys are my little brothers, I just didn't figure it would be an issue, so I didn't even look into it initially. Fortunately, the way I have it set up now, everything except for my wireless-n devices are running off of the Linksys router just as before.

    Fortunately right now, my MBP is the only thing running off the AEBS, so I can tinker with it once this initial TM backup completes(which appears that it may take 3 weeks at this rate). It's at 19.9GB of 102.12GB and it's been running like 2 hours now.

    I'll spend the next few days adjusting it so it works to my satisfaction, and if I can't get that, I'll just sell it, no big deal.

    I had the last two months of backups on the drive, but a direct backup(with a cable) puts everything into a backups.db folder, whereas a network Time Machine backup puts it into a sparsebundle, and there's no way to adjust it really. My hope was to just plug in the drive and have it work properly, but I quickly found that wasn't an case. If I'm mistaken here, please correct me, I'm more than open to suggestions.

    The backup disk is HFS.

    I'm aware that the DS issue lies in the way that Nintendo handles stuff, but it doesn't make it any less convenient. The Nintendo only supports WEP security, and, although the AEBS says it supports it, I can't see anywhere to use WEP over WPA/WPA2.
  5. spacepower7 macrumors 68000

    May 6, 2004
    Apple recommends doing the first time machine backup over ethernet.
    From what I have heard, time machine backups and general disk access is much faster on a Time Capsule than an Airport Extreme with external USB drive.

    There was a Windows XP update between SP2 and SP3 which fixed WPA.

    If you have the newer Airport Extreme with Dual-Band, then you can run all the computers on a Wireless N (G compatible) signal with security, then use the 2nd band/signal as an insecure guest network wireless G for your Nintendo DS/i thingys.

    Hope this helps
  6. srexy macrumors 6502a

    Nov 19, 2006
    If you're already dissatisfied w/the vanilla AEBS for cripes sakes don't get the G/N version - you'll be looking for hairplugs à la John Gosselin tout de suite!

    There definitely is a subset of AEBS users that are extremely pissed off with its performance and I'm amongst their number. I've experienced the full gamut of disk mounting/unmounting issues, throughput issues, stability issues, crap range and just plain flakiness. I'm finally at a point where I'm probably not going to tinker any more and if I do - I'm just going to pony up and get a more recent version of the AEBS (I've got the N 10/100 Mb/s version not gigabit).

    A lot of the dissatisfaction that peeps have voiced is due to the extremely ropey firmware updates that Apple has rolled out. I strongly advise you to either stick with or roll back to v 7.3.2 firmware if you're not already on it.

    As for doing a wireless Time Machine backup - are you nuts? Use ethernet for the 1st one then wireless - you'll have to pony up for another set of plugs if you don't!
  7. ddeadserious thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Jul 28, 2008
    Plymouth, MI
    Thanks for the advice/input guys.

    I guess it's not a bad idea to run a secured g/n network and a g guest network, thanks for that. If I feel like tinkering this week, I'll try that.

    I have no clue why I didn't do my first Time Machine backup with ethernet. Haha wow. It's already 52GB out of 102GB, I imagine it will finish up tonight while I sleep, but I'll remember that for next time.

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