Has Time Capsule saved anyone? User stories, please.

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by aComicBookFan, Mar 18, 2012.

  1. aComicBookFan macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2012
    #1
    My wife and I are casually considering a Time Capsule. Is it worth it? We'd like to know if anyone has had their system crash and then used a Time Capsule to restore it. Is it pretty easy to restore a system? We'd like to hear real user stories to see if this device is worth it's sticker price.

    Thanks!

    -=- Boris
     
  2. blueroom macrumors 603

    blueroom

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    Feb 15, 2009
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    #2
    My family uses a Synology NAS plus it's Time Machine compatible. It has saved our butts twice. It also works great on a full OS install / restore.
     
  3. SkyeHack macrumors member

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  4. blueroom macrumors 603

    blueroom

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    #4
    Fine. Then please elaborate on why a Time Capsule is a "waste of money".
     
  5. SkyeHack macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2010
    #5
    Here’s what I learned through trying to set the TimeCapsule up to act as drive space for music and video: The TimeCapsule works well as a wireless router, and works OK for backups, but it sucks to use as general storage. This is a shame since it was introduced at the same time as the MacBook Air, a machine which is great as your main computer but for the fact that it doesn’t have enough hard drive to manage any but the smallest collection of photos, music and videos.

    I’ve struggled with this issue since I first got my Air 18 months ago: where to put all the files that don’t fit on the tiny 80gb drive? It meant I’ve kept only a small music collection. Hell, some iPods come with larger drives, a few are even twice the size.

    It seemed simple enough to fix. Apple’s TimeCapsule is a combined 802.11n wireless router and Network-Attached Storage (NAS) device. It is designed to give you a place to backup your computers via the OS X Time Machine software, but it also lets you mount a drive for any other purpose. I’d bought one at the same time as my Air. But now I’d finally set it up as a shared drive, mounted it on both laptops, pointed iTunes to it (instead of the default local directory), copies all files there and started ripping CDs to it. This was going to rock.

    Only it didn’t.

    Now I’m walking around the house wearing nothing but a pair of red boxer-briefs, but not in the sexy way the hot blonde girlfriend prefers. See, I’m going back and forth between pieces of equipment, rewiring and reconfiguring. Actually, it’d be more accurate to say I’m not walking around in my underwear in THAT sexy way my girlfriend prefers — geek is also its own turn-on for her.

    She asked me to move in with her recently. Thrilled that she likes me so much as to proposition me that way, I was still slow to accept. Aside from wanting to take such a step seriously, I knew what kinds of issues might come up. Issues that involved too many hours in red underwear.

    Fixing the music problem was one of those kinds of issues.

    Earlier this afternoon, her girlfriend Ann was over for Laura’s help to vacuum-seal a week’s food for Burning Man. While Ann was here, we listened for a while to a Pandora station on the living room stereo. Then we handed her the Sonos controller to pick music from our library. She quickly put together a playlist and started it, but a few songs in, the music stopped abruptly. After the first couple of times it restarted, but then it quit for good.

    “What happened to the song?” the girls cried in unison.

    “I think I know.” I replied. And it wasn’t pretty. “It’s going to be a while for me to fix it.”

    I’d already done a lot of work on the system in the past week. Besides setting up the server and reconfiguring iTunes, we bought a Sonos from Best Buy and got it going (more on that later — it’s a fantastic piece of kit, but provided some of it’s own adventures). We’d also started ripping songs from CDs to the Time Capsule around the clock. Laura (the hot blonde) is a former rave DJ. Her CDs are organized alphabetically by artist. So far, we’re only up to Depeche Mode.

    Besides dealing with the music, we’d also cancelled Comcast and upgraded DSL (also deserving of it’s own post). So we subscribed to Mad Men on iTunes and watched an episode over the network during the weekend. Had a few glitches there. Not a good sign.

    Well, when the music froze up the most recent time, I noticed that my Macbook Air was in the middle of a Time Machine backup. To the same Time Capsule that was also our Media Server. That wasn’t what was happening earlier in the weekend (I’d disabled the backup feature), but this was the final straw.

    My conclusion was that the Time Capsule was just underpowered to serve as a router and a backup device and to serve music and video files at the same time. I was going to have to pick a machine to be up on the network all the time and put the files there.

    Since we both have Macbook Airs, this meant buying a new machine. The Apple TV has too small a hard drive and too little flexibility to serve. So we ran to Best Buy and grabbed a Mac Mini to try out (the cheap model with 1GB RAM).

    So far, it’s working like a champ at storing all the audio and video files, playing them on the TV, serving them up to the Sonos and the Airs (which also synchronize our iPhones). We’ve watched more TV episodes and run tests of doing several things simultaneously, never have had another glitch.

    I wish Apple would sell a TimeCapsule sufficient to the task of serving all the media files it stores (or a beefier Apple TV). If I’m lucky, maybe they’ll even announce it today. I suppose it’s in their best interest to force us to purchase a third computer, one to hook up to the TV.

    Hopefully Apple realizes the demand for a device that does more than backups — if they’re going to use iTunes to sell us media at the same time we switch from desktops to laptops, we need a place to store it.
     
  6. blueroom macrumors 603

    blueroom

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    Toronto, Canada
  7. LFMNX macrumors regular

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    Feb 14, 2011
    #7
    Not a waste of money

    I disagree that it is a "waste of money". Especially since the example given was not utilized for its design purpose. The time capsule is not designed to be a media server! It's designed to be a backup/restore devise together with time machine software. It does that elegantly !

    My data is important. This is a solid easy to use solution AND a wireless router to boot and back to my mac capabilities. It can also be managed over a WAN with the new software.
     
  8. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2009
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #8
    I use Time Capsules... but I use them exclusively for backup. I have a 3TB TC that exclusively backs up a 2TB iMac. I also have a 2TB TC that backs up all of the MBAs.

    I do have 4 NAS boxes, but I have stopped using them. I used to use one for PC backups (back when I used PCs)... but I found them troublesome. Some of the NAS boxes are better than others. Synology seems to be the favorite.

    I just picked up a Promise Pegasus 8TB R4 Thunderbolt RAID box. It is not network attached... but rather Direct Attached. I doubt that I will use it for backup though. I really like dedicated TCs the best for local backup. They are supported well by Apple and they have been flawless. I have restored MBAs twice from them, and it was incredibly easy.

    I also back up to the cloud using Crashplan+. That is a great deal and highly recommended.
     
  9. aComicBookFan thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2012
    #9
    Wow, this thread took off in a way I didn't expect!

    We do not plan to use the Time Capsule as a media server. It's primary purpose is to create backups that we can restore from and its secondary purpose is to create shared storage between two machines. The data throughput is not terribly important. We don't care if it takes overnight to restore a machine or if it happens in 2-3 hours. The shared space could go at cable internet speeds and that's OK too.

    So far one user chimed in and said that they restored their MBAs twice without any problems. Does anyone else think this device is worth it?

    -- Boris
     
  10. blueroom, Mar 18, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2012

    blueroom macrumors 603

    blueroom

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    #10
    What sort of router do you currently own? Make & Model.

    edit:
    A 2TB Time Capsule @ $299 is not a bad deal. You get a dual band gigabit router and Apples version of a NAS + Time Machine backup.
     
  11. flynz4 macrumors 68040

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    Aug 9, 2009
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #11
    Boris,

    The first time I restored my MBA was in 2009. I purchased a MBA and about a month later, when I tried using the USB port for the first time, I learned it was DOA. I brought it back to the Apple Store... they verified the USB port was dead. We wiped the SSD and they gave me a new one. I went home, turned it on, and restored from my TC. It was very quick to do, but it was not too full.

    I have actually restored two more times since then. Both were computer upgrades. In 2010 I upgraded to the Rev D MBA, and restored from my 2009. I did the same in 2011 when I upgraded to the Rev E MBA. Both times I wiped my old MBA and gave them to either my wife or kids.

    I do not want my backup to be a hobby. I just want it to work. As far as I am concerned... backing up to a TC is the simplest way to back up your machine.

    If you have an iMac... then you can easily backup by keeping a cheap USB hard drive attached 24/7 and it will work find. If you have a laptop... having your laptops wirelessly backup automatically whenever you are home is wonderful.

    /Jim
     
  12. throAU macrumors 601

    throAU

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2012
    Location:
    Perth, Western Australia
    #12
    Haven't used a time capsule, but time machine backups are extremely easy to restore from.

    Yes, you can use an external drive for time machine, but the point of a time capsule is that you set it up and just forget about it. No need to plug your external drive in, it just works in the background. Having a to plug in an external drive means that if you're lazy (and most people are) you won't do it very often. Wireless backup means it just happens without you needing to do anything.

    Restoring (using time machine) is EASY and I've done a recovery from time machine backup to migrate from my old mini to my new MBP and it was extremely painless. The only difference restoring frome a time capsule (vs an external drive like I did) is picking your time machine backup source...

    edit:
    to echo what others have said: i'd use a time capsule ONLY for backup. they're not particularly fast, and if you store files on it, you are taking space away from your backups which means you have less backup snapshots available. But for backups, time machine is imho the best backup solution i've ever used, simply because it requires no user action - thus, it actually gets done on a regular basis.
     
  13. aComicBookFan thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2012
    #13
    Our current router is a Linksys WRT54G.

    I think I might know about using an external USB drive for backups. When I was formatting my old USB drives that I will be selling with my PPC iMac I got an alert box asking me if I wanted to use the drives as Time Capsule backups. I clicked no.

    The seemingly good thing about a TC is that it is one device that can be used for multiple Mac machines. In our case, my wife and I would both back up our individual iMacs to the same TC and still have space left over for shared space. We could each get 1T drives and just use home sharing to transfer files back and forth (like when we tag team DVD ripping). Having one backup device seems more appealing than two though.

    -- Boris
     
  14. bdodds1985 macrumors 6502a

    bdodds1985

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    Tartarus
    #14
  15. hafr macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2011
    #15
    Let's begin with separating backups from the Time Capsule. I wouldn't dream of not using Time Machine (or Carbon Copy Cloner, or whatever backup you prefer) since I've been devastated in the past with lost information.

    I use iPhoto for handling my photos, but because I don't really like not having a clear file system as well, I don't use the "copy to iPhoto" alternative. Just two days ago (Saturday), I had merged two events together (vacation photos from two different cameras) and I was going to export all of them into the same folder, one containing half of the photos and videos. iPhoto asked me if I wanted to replace those photos already existing, and I clicked "replace".

    iPhoto then proceeded to saying it couldn't export because the files don't exist. For some reason, iPhoto deleted all the files in that folder - and not to any trash (either in iPhoto or OS X). I panicked for about 30 seconds before remembering I use Time Machine. Enter Time Machine, choose the correct folder, restore, done. Time Machine saved me from me...

    That being said, I think the Time Capsule is a waste of money, unless you buy it for its design. You could get the "same" setup for a lot less without really losing any of the user friendliness. Myself, I like the design, but opted for the Airport Extreme Base Station with an external USB drive as the backup drive to save some money.
     
  16. DDustiNN macrumors 65816

    DDustiNN

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2011
    #16
    I just bought a Time Capsule a couple weeks ago for this exact purpose. Backups are seamless, and the hard drive shows up on both my MacBook Air and my Windows 7 laptop. However, I've read that it's not recommended to use the TC internal hard drive for backups and regular/shared data storage.

    My main requirement was the USB port which allows an external hard drive to be plugged in, then shared over the network. This was a pain to get figured out, but after 4 hours or trial and error, I finally discovered that the Time Capsule does NOT recognize an NTFS-formatted hard drive (even though OS X does). I even installed software to allow read/write access to NTFS, and worked perfectly find when plugged in directly, but never showed up when plugged into the Time Capsule. IMO, that's the most annoying feature about it, as that was not mentioned anywhere in the user manual.

    So, after I formatted my 500 GB drive to Mac's liking, it worked perfectly fine. I installed a program on Windows 7 to read/write to Mac-formatted drives, and all is well now. I only wish I had known this sooner, as I really wanted to share my pre-existing 2TB external drive... but to copy all of that data, then format, and copy back... that will take a longgggg time :(

    I do have it set up for backups, but of course I have not had any experience with the restore like you're wondering about. However, I poked around a bit and the Time Machine software seems pretty interesting and easy to use.
     
  17. hafr macrumors 68030

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    Sep 21, 2011
    #17
    Why did you install that extra program on your Windows 7 machine? As long as the drive is connected to your Time Capsule, Windows plays nicely with the HFS+ file system.
     
  18. blueroom macrumors 603

    blueroom

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    Feb 15, 2009
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    #18
    That's a pretty ancient router. A Time Capsule would be an excellent upgrade across the board.
     
  19. DDustiNN macrumors 65816

    DDustiNN

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    Jan 27, 2011
    #19
    I just assumed I needed it... I installed it before I even formatted the drive, haha. I guess I'll just uninstall it then. Thanks for the tip :D
     
  20. LFMNX macrumors regular

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    Feb 14, 2011
    #20
    Apple does not "officially" support Time Machine functionally to the airport extreme w/USB drive. Although it may work at this time it is not officially supported.
     
  21. rainydays macrumors 6502a

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    Nov 6, 2006
    #21
    I use a WD My Book Live for Time Capsule backups. I've been having some issues with it, but I'm hoping that they are fixed in the latest firmware (time will tell).

    We used a Time Capsule at my previous job as a small office wireless router and network storage. It did its job very well! I only wish that it was possible to connect an extra antenna to it since the signal strength isn't the best compared to many other routers. But other than that it's excellent!

    I have not had the "pleasure" to be rescued by Time Capsule. But I think its an excellent backup system if you don't need total control.
    I don't rely on it exclusively though. I have a second backup drive that I make an image to once a month. And I backup the most important files to the cloud in case of fire or theft.

    I've lost a lot of important data in the past, and I've truly learned that backups are never a waste of money, even if you never get to use them.
    The last time a hdd died and I didn't have a backup I lost 6 months of work which resulted in a $75k loss of income. I will never let that happend again.
     
  22. hafr macrumors 68030

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    Sep 21, 2011
    #22
    As far as I know, it simply wasn't possible in the beginning. Then the TC was released and a while later there was a "quiet" activation of the AEBS+external drive functionality with Time Machine. Then all of a sudden, Apple started saying it wasn't possible to use AEBS+external drive with Time Machine anymore - but the functionality was never re-disabled.

    My guess is they saw a drop in TC sales as people started going the cheaper route and stopped supporting it (despite never having really been clear with it being possible) to boost TC sales.

    Should they ever disable the possibility of using AEBS+external drive in Time Machine, I'd either use CCC instead of TM, or get another router instead of the AEBS. But the TC is way too overpriced in my book.
     
  23. iMarvin macrumors 6502

    iMarvin

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    On the internet!
    #23
    Have a 2TB TC on the way to me right now, gonna use it for backups. I hate the hassle with usb stuff.

    Gonna format the drive so that i have a 50GB partition that i can store stuff that i want to access from elsewhere also. :)
     
  24. LFMNX macrumors regular

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    #24
    It's a bummer they don't officially support AEBS on time machine. The TC is an expensive unit however it is a $121 delta from the Airport Extreme to get the integrated 2 TB server grade drive and support that goes with that. If one is going to buy a 2 TB drive anyway the value is a little more reasonable. If you have applecare on any device using it then the TC is covered by that. The external USB device would not be. So there are trade-offs for sure.
     
  25. hafr macrumors 68030

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    #25
    I thought they didn't use server grade drives in the TC since several years back?

    I always forget about the AppleCare argument. One of the perks being in Europe, AC is basically only good for phone support here ;)
     

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