Does Time Machine work with Airport Extreme?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by Madvillain, Jan 17, 2011.

  1. Madvillain Guest

    Jan 15, 2008
    I currently have a Time Capsule, but the drive on it is too small for what I need.
    I was thinking of getting an Airport Extreme base station and plugging a hard drive into the USB port on it. Can I use that drive wirelessly with Time Machine?
    If so, can I also use the USB port on the Airport Extreme with a USB hub and have the hard drive and a printer working at the same time?

    If that isn't an option, does anybody have a suggestion for a good wireless backup and wireless printing for 2 MacBooks?

    Thanks for the help.
  2. Dalton63841 macrumors 65816


    Nov 27, 2010
    Yep you cetainly can do that. And I'm relatively certain you can use a hub with drive and printer....
  3. Intell macrumors P6


    Jan 24, 2010
    You can use another external drive with the Time Capsule. Yes the Time Machine can use an Extreme's drive. Yes, you can use a hub with more then one device.
  4. RMo macrumors 65816


    Aug 7, 2007
    Iowa, USA
    I don't know what the two replies above me are talking about, but Apple does not support this, so the answer is no. See:

    There are unofficial workarounds (like plugging it in and setting it up locally first, then attachiing it to the AEBS), but I wouldn't risk something as important as a backup with an experimental-at-best setup.
  5. skorpien macrumors 68020

    Jan 14, 2008
    There was a firmware upgrade a while back that enabled the feature, but it's speculated that it was unintentional on Apple's part. Officially, they do not support it. Unofficially, it works. To my knowledge, there is no workaround or hack required to make it work, but I have heard that this setup can be unreliable. And if something should go wrong, Apple will not provide support.

    OP, my suggestion would be not to get a new AEBS but to use the TC's USB port. Hook up a larger HDD and a printer via a hub and point the Time Machine backups to the external. You can copy the sparsebundle files to the larger drive and it should continue the backup, or if you'd rather, start a new backup. You can even use the internal HDD for one machine and the external for the other, or both on the external and recommission the internal as NAS storage.
  6. Brian33 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 30, 2008
    USA (Virginia)
    +1 on skorpien's suggestion. I don't see why you'd want to buy an AEBS -- just plug your bigger drive into a USB hub and the hub into the TC. I've got an old USB 1.1 hub on my 1st-gen Time Capsule, with a USB thumb drive and a printer plugged into the hub. Works fine for me.

    You might also consider opening the TC and replacing the internal drive. That's what I did and now I've got 2 TB of space in there.

  7. Madvillain thread starter Guest

    Jan 15, 2008
    Thanks for the replies guys.

    How hard was it to swap out the old drive in the TC?
  8. Madvillain thread starter Guest

    Jan 15, 2008

    What external drive and hub do you guys recommend for the USB hub Time Capsule method? It would be running pretty much 24/7/365.

  9. Brian33, Jan 18, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2011

    Brian33 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 30, 2008
    USA (Virginia)
    I found it extremely easy to do, following the directions posted here:

    The only part at all tricky was getting the bottom rubber pad off. As described in the article, I used a hair dryer to soften the glue, and slowly and carefully peeled it off. Worked well, and now you'd never know it had been opened.

    However, I remember reading somewhere that someone tore the rubber pad, so that is a possibility to keep in mind, not that it would matter much, in my opinion.

    As far as the drive to put in it, last November I installed a 2 TB Caviar Green drive (WD20EARS) and I've been supremely happy since (it is so much quieter, and of course the space is great!).

    (Another) However, there's currently a thread here: (look toward the end, Jan 2011) where two people describe putting the same exact drive in their Time Capsules, and report that the drive never "spins down" or goes to sleep. Mine does spin down, and we can't figure out why the different result. So, pending the result of that thread, you might want to go with a low-power drive from one of the other main manufacturers.

    I'm very happy I chose this solution, as I like the power savings but especially like the reduced clutter and fewer cables and transformers. Plus, now I have put the old 500 GB drive into a FW case and so I've got an extra drive.
  10. Madvillain thread starter Guest

    Jan 15, 2008
  11. redsox33 macrumors newbie

    Jan 18, 2011
    I spoke with sales online and 2 reps in an apple store. I have an airport extreme base station and want to hook up an external hard drive and have it automatically back up...they said it will not work....said difficult to even manually drag items over to copy.
  12. skorpien macrumors 68020

    Jan 14, 2008
    Of course the Apple employees will deny it, it's not officially supported by Apple. It was never meant to be. It was, however, enabled with a firmware update and Apple has yet to remove it in any subsequent updates.

    That said, if you already have the equipment, it doesn't hurt to try. Although the reliability issues are too great to have peace of mind when backing up your system in this manner in my opinion. I would suggest a NAS with Time Machine support out of the box. But whatever you do, make sure that this is not your only backup. You should back up your data to at least two places just to be sure.

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