new Mac user- backup and wireless question

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by HMStp, Dec 19, 2011.

  1. HMStp macrumors newbie

    Dec 19, 2011
    Hi, I am a new Mac notebook user with a 2011 MacBook Air; I have had iPods and an iPhone for a few years. Planning to convert our current PC-based (desktop and a couple laptops) home over to all-Mac (adding an iMac and iPad) as $ allows. We have ATT uverse for internet with the ATT 2wire modem/router installed.

    I would like to get a network established where I can back up my Mac wirelessly to an external hard drive (I don't think I need the time capsule) and print wirelessly (I have a wired printer currently attached to my PC and not adjacent to my ATT modem).

    I've been reading about the Airport Extreme and using it in bridge mode "behind" the ATT router; using multiple APEs, or disabling the WiFi on my 2wire router and running the wireless network through an APE. I have found instructions for all of this online but am unsure if it's the right step. I am confused by all the options and would welcome any advice.

    Should I get an APE and attach an EHD and run the APE in bridge mode? If so, how do I connect wirelessly to the printer (another APE?). Bear with me for my confusion, and thanks in advance for any help.
  2. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    You haven't gotten any replies, so I'll at least offer my experiences.

    I've got a previous-generation APE (the "Gigabit" version, not dual-band; by the way, people usually abbreviate it AEBS--Airport Extreme Base Station, to differentiate it from Airport Express) and was for a while running a similar setup to what you're describing.

    In my case, I had a simple DSL modem (if it had been one with a built-in router, I'd have disabled it), connected to the WAN port on the AEBS, and then a Canon printer hooked to the USB port on the AEBS. That worked smoothly and stably. A friend of mine was doing the same with an even older AEBS, which was also good. The AEBS has been rock-solid even when used for fairly heavy network traffic, including regularly saturating the gigabit hardware interface between two computers on the hardwired network.

    HOWEVER... when I tried to connect a USB hard drive to the AEBS and use it for Time Machine, the results were unusable. It would configure, and work for a while, but eventually the Time Machine volume would corrupt, rendering it useless. It was also extremely slow--ran about 1/5 to 1/10 the speed of the same hard drive served from another Mac over the same network. You can find other reports of this on the internet as well. My guess is that the file server built into the AEBS just isn't powerful enough to handle that kind of access, since it requires thousands of small transactions on any backup.

    It's possible that the newer AEBS has better hardware and would work fine, but I don't know and probably wouldn't personally use it that way.

    For printing, I eventually replaced my hardwired printer with a Canon multifunction printer with built-in wireless. This has worked more or less flawlessly with all the Macs in my house--the only down side is that while a USB connection can wake up most printers that are "off", the printer needs to be turned on before you can print to it wirelessly, although since you need to walk over at some point anyway it's not that big of a deal unless you're very lazy. Scanning works fine over the network, too.

    As for backup, I have a Mac Mini that I use as a media center PC, as well as a home file server--I have a couple of large-capacity external drives hooked to it which I use to store most of my files and backups of said files. Using a volume on that Mac for network Time Machine backups works perfectly, and has for years.

    If I were running a system that didn't involve a Mini server, I'd either get a Time Capsule, or a 3rd party NAS unit that claims Time Machine compatibility--pretty sure some exist. Pretty sure the Time Capsule would also serve a wired printer, and would do all the work of an AEBS, so it's not that bad of a deal. The NAS, alternately, would be cheaper than a Mini server, although I absolutely love mine, and the current generation ones are even better.

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