Macbook Air + Time Capsule may not be the best combo for System Restores

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by urkel, Aug 12, 2011.

  1. urkel macrumors 68030

    Nov 3, 2008
    Anyone else use the Time Capsule with their Macbook Air?

    I bought a Time Capsule and new 13" Macbook Air last month but recently decided to replace the 13" Air with an 11". When I got the 11" home I tried doing a Time Machine restore but after 6hrs it hardly put a dent in the restoration. The problems I encountered was:

    1) Air is WiFi only. Yes, theres a USB ethernet adapter but its $30 and most people don't think about buying them (I was waiting for TB Gigabit Ethernet)
    2) Time Capsule is built on old technology, meaning no FireWire or Thunderbolt ports. It does have USB2 but...
    3) Time Capsule USB2 port doesn't allow you to access the internal data.
    4) Initial backup took 2 days (Time Machine chokes on small files and I'm an Aperture user) so its my fault for not realizing if it takes that long to put data on, why would it be any faster to get data out?

    Maybe the TM restore would work if I waited another 12-24hrs but then I would've missed a days amount of work so I ended up stopping the Time Capsule restore and just doing a migration from my clone backup which only took 30 minutes.

    So IMO these are two good products but they aren't a good combo. Most of these issues are predictable but thats why I'm posting this experience here for the Macbook Air users. When planning out data backup then "Convenience" is great but what really matters is the moment you need to restore.

    How about anyone else? Are you liking the Air/Time Capsule combo because I'm really not sure how to plan out my Time Machine plan now since I can't return the TC anymore.
  2. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    I've been using an Air with a TC for about a year now, and I like it.

    For me, there are pros/cons for both TC WiFi backups and direct backups to a locally connected USB drive. Neither solution alone works for me.

    For me, the plus of using Time Machine on a directly connected USB drive is that it's faster. The major con (again, for me) is that I'm not "on top of it enough" to make sure that I plug the drive in daily, which means I'm more at risk of losing data if I only used this method.

    With the TC, the major plus for me is that no matter where I am in my house, my Air does an hour TM backup. Automatically. I don't have to remember anything. The con is that major restores take longer via the TC than they do via a directly connected USB drive.

    My solution is to use both methods. I have a portable external USB drive that I keep at work (off-site of my house) most of the time. I have a calendar reminder that reminds me to bring it home once a month. I plug it into my Air (via USB), do a Time Machine backup to it, then take it back to work the following day.

    I have a "catastrophic" failure, I can quickly recover from that external USB drive (that may be up to 30 days old, but it will have my major apps installed, etc), and then move any newer data over from the TC at my convenience.

    If I'm getting a new Mac, I'll use the drive to backup my old Mac, use Migration Assistant to restore it to the new Mac, do a TM backup of the new Mac to it, and then take it back to work.
  3. ng-design macrumors member


    Jul 18, 2011
    It gets faster

    I could be mistaken, but I think the first run takes the longest with Time Capsule. I think my first backup took all night too.

    In future backups, it just grabs new or modified files. But because of its integration with OS X, it really does make system restores a breeze if you ever need them.
  4. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    What you say is correct, but I think the OP's more concerned with how long full system restores take (and that he can't work while it's happening).
  5. jclardy macrumors 68040


    Oct 6, 2008
    What I do is use an external to back up initially, then hook that up on my network. I have some desktop computers, so if the Air is your only machine this won't work for you.

    Then if I need to restore, I can do it over the network or just hook up the drive directly.

    I'm surprised that TC doesn't let you plug directly in for the initial backup...that is kind of strange...
  6. deeddawg macrumors 604

    Jun 14, 2010
    Good heads up -- yes, wifi restores of a full system are painfully long. Although still long, they're faster via wired ethernet. I've not researched thoroughly, but USB 10/100 adapters are available for much less than Apple's price. This one for example is under $10 shipped even if you add the 1-foot USB extension cable you probably ought to use with it.

    My Air is due to be delivered today -- I'm doing a new time machine backup to a USB hard drive in preparation, it'll be far faster to restore from that than over the air.
  7. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    Is ethernet faster? I thought the 10/100 ethernet max rate is 100mpbs, while with WiFi, 270mbps was the max rate?
  8. deeddawg macrumors 604

    Jun 14, 2010
    When dealing with a lot of small files, you get into where latency overhead becomes an issue. Max rate is only useful if everything else in the chain can keep up -- and if you're doing a lot of file ops that's not necessarily the case.

    My setup is using an old desktop running Windows Server to provide a fileshare on which I keep my TimeMachine backup. It's on a 100baseT network, I don't do enough large file stuff to bother upgrading the house network components. I see a distinct difference between wifi access and wired access.

    Really though since this only makes a difference to me in a full system restore situation, it's not a big deal. I have enough spare USB HDD's that planned migrations are not a big deal, and if I had a catastrophic failure I'd possibly suck it up and buy a wired ethernet adapter. :)

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