Time Capsule Alternatives?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by urfankhaliq, Nov 19, 2010.

  1. urfankhaliq macrumors newbie

    Oct 26, 2010
    Hi guys,

    Im new to the world of Macs...recently got my new MBP and enjoying it so far. everything seems nice and easy which I guess is the main thing with macs...

    The one thing I am struggling with is Time Machine...I want to use this as it seems like a really cool backing up tool and I already have an external verbatim hard drive I use for my backups on my Windows PC but unfortunately I cant seem to get this to work with my MBP and Time Machine.

    I am considering purchasing a refurbed 1TB Time Capsule but wondered if there is an alternative cheaper option out there. I would like to be able to use time machine to back up wirelesslly (either with Time Capsule or maybe my existing harddrive with a wireless router that has USB?)

    Not sure really what the options are but just seems silly that I have to use Time Capsule in order to backup wirelessly!

    Can any one else suggest a good method for using Time Machine on the MBP?

  2. melman101 macrumors 68030

    Sep 3, 2009
    Well, you have a few options.

    1. Airport Extreme + External USB Hard Drive.
    2. Time Capsule by itself.
    3. A computer running linux and netatalk, with whatever space you can grab on that. I use an external USB hard drive. (Unsupported).
    4. Just plug the USB drive into the computer.

    That's pretty much your only options I believe.

    NOTE: An Airport Express DOES NOT work with Time Machine!
  3. rkaufmann87 macrumors 68000


    Dec 17, 2009
    Folsom, CA
    Time Machine isn't designed to work with external HD plugged into a router, they're tricky and somewhat unreliable. I've tried without very good success using 2 different routers, one was my Airport Extreme. However some people have had better success than I.

    I would recommend either an external HD hardwired to your MBP or the Time Capsule. The advantage of the Time Capsule is it's one piece of hardware, the downside is it's expensive, even a refurbished one. Personally I have a TM drives hardwired to both my iMac and MBP. External HD's are relatively inexpensive now, however because this is your backup I wouldn't recommend getting the cheapest external you can find. There are three brands that I've seen are very reliable and offer a good feature set. Those are:

    OWC (macsales.com) Mercury Elite Pro series

    Lacie Quadra D2 series

    G-Tech G series

    All have comparable build quality, features and in the same ball park for pricing. Unless you are extremely technical I would stay with the Time Capsule or external HD solution for Time Machine.

    BTW when I travel with my MBP I also carry a bootable clone, I have this connected to my machine so it does incremental backups at 2 AM when I'm asleep. Because it's bootable if my internal HD crashes I can reboot my machine from it and be up and running in a minute or two. The software for creating bootable clones are Carbon Copy Cloner and SuperDuper. Personally I use SD but a lot like CCC because it's free.
  4. designs216 macrumors 65816


    Oct 26, 2009
    Down the rabbit hole
    I think Time Capsule is the way to go since you have to also consider what your time is worth. I currently have the AEBS solution + external USB drive and though it was less expensive, it's not as clean and it took some finagling to get it to back up properly.

    If I had to do it again, I would save up and get the TC.

    If you do go the TC route, I would also suggest using it only for Time Machine backups and nothing else.

    The bootable clone suggestion is an excellent idea rkaufmann87.
  5. urfankhaliq, Nov 19, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2010

    urfankhaliq thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 26, 2010
    Ok thanks for that guys, I think I will go for the TC option...from experience how much space does TM take with backups? am I right in thinking that the maximum space it can take is the size of my HD in the MBP?

    The reason why I ask is im wondering can I get away with the 500gb one as apposed to a 1tb?

    Is there a difference with the two (apart from the hdd size)
  6. Brian33 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 30, 2008
    USA (Virginia)
    You can't beat the Time Capsule for ease of use, and you can't beat an external USB drive for lowest cost.

    If you want to backup wirelessly (which would be best for a laptop), I recommend the Time Capsule.

    About using Airport Extreme + External USB Hard Drive: I've read posts where it was tricky to set up; I've read posts that it can be unreliable; I've read posts that it's not supported by Apple. What if it appears to work, but there are occasional undetected glitches? Do you want to take a chance on your backup data being corrupted? Perhaps this is why it is (apparently) not supported by Apple.

    About using a Time Capsule: Easy to set up and use, in my experience. However, I've read lots of posts describing TCs dying after 18 months or so, apparently from heat affecting the power supply capacitors. I think virtually all were 1st-generation ones, but maybe not. I've read posts describing some internal changes that were made (moving the transformer of the power supply for example) in subsequent generations of TC that might solve the problem. Or maybe not. There's no way to know for sure if the problem is solved.

    If it were me, I'd rather take a chance of an obvious failure of my backup system (power supply dies and no lights on TC) than take the chance of an undetected error (possible file corruption or backup errors) with an unsupported backup setup.

    Importantly, in the TC failure scenario, you would still have valid backup data on the drive and the hardware problem would be covered by warranty and Applecare. In the AEBS+USB drive setup you could be out of luck for warranty help and your data might have errors on it.

    So, I say go with a TC if you want to back up wirelessly, or with an external drive if you need to save money.

  7. urfankhaliq thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 26, 2010
    thanks for the comments Brian and love the comment on the end of your signature LOL
  8. designs216 macrumors 65816


    Oct 26, 2009
    Down the rabbit hole
    TM saves as many backups as the designated backup disk will hold. So one has more restore instances with a larger backup disk. Also, keep in mind you can selectively choose what TM backs up to save disk space.

    In the past, some users have reported that the previous generation TC has ceased to function after about 18 months. I don't recall specifically what the problem was but that was one of the reasons I decided on the AEBS. It appears that there has recently been an update to the TC, so I think I would go with the 1TB version.
  9. urfankhaliq thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 26, 2010
    and can the TC be used with Windows? If so then what for? Backups aswell?
  10. Brian33 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 30, 2008
    USA (Virginia)
    The partition you give TM has to be at least as big as the data to be backed up. TM will (eventually) use up all the space on that partition, giving you multiple versions of your changing files, going farther "back in time."

    How big is your MBP's internal drive, and how full is it? If you need to back up 500 GB, I think the 500GB TC would just work, but you'd only have one version (the current one) of any changing files. It would be far better to get the 1TB, in my opinion.

    No, not to my knowledge (aside from the disk size). Anyone else know?
  11. Gemütlichkeit macrumors 65816


    Nov 17, 2010
    Wireless TimeMachine is awesome. I can't see myself going back.

    However one thing I might want to change is going from a large 3.5" harddrive enclosure to a laptop external enclosure. Just so I wouldn't need an AC power adapter.
  12. Brian33 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 30, 2008
    USA (Virginia)
    You can't back up Windows machines with the TC. First of all its the Time Machine program that does the backing up and there's no Windows version of it! Secondly TM cannot back up Windows filesystems, only HFS+ (Mac OS extended journaled) .

    However, you can use the TC with windows machines... they connect fine to a TC wireless network (doing that here), TC can "host" a printer so both the Macs and Windows machines can access it (doing that here). TC can host an external USB drive so all machines on the network can access it (doing that here, too--using a USB hub).

    Regards, Brian33

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