Time Capsule, for backups AND file sharing?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by alfonsopulido, Apr 2, 2009.

  1. alfonsopulido macrumors newbie

    Oct 27, 2007
    For months I've been considering buying a Time Capsule. With this recent version it would seem the right time to do it, but I have several questions before I spend the money and I'm finding contradicting points in discussion groups and different websites.
    I have a MacBook with a 60GB HD and I'm rapidly running out of space, buying another computer with a bigger HD is not an option right now, so my first question is: besides hosting the Time Machine backups, can I use Time Capsule to have a second iTunes and iPhoto Libraries? I know that whatever files I have in the TC wouldn't be backed up with Time Machine, but I mainly want to transfer all the music and pictures that I have on CD's, so I wouldn't mind not having them backed up. Would I be able to access those pictures and music files from my laptop?... How about from the Apple TV (that I'm buying after the next hardware update)?
    With the new TC you are supposed to be able to access the drive over the internet (with my MobilMe account). If the answer to my first question is YES and it's possible to have iTunes and iPhoto libraries in the TC, can those be reached over the internet too? If I'm away, could I work with pictures and listen to music stored in the TC back in my house?
    And my last question is: if you can't partition the drive in the TC, would it be possible that eventually it's 500 GB HD gets full with the incremental backups of my Macbook therefore not leaving any extra space for file sharing?
    Right now I have a 300GB external HD that I connect to my MacBook every night. It's partitioned, so I have 120GB dedicated to the Time Machine backups and the rest for music and picture files that I have no access to if the HD is not connected to the laptop. I would love to be able to do the same but wirelessly and to be able to access those files from any room in my house or from work. And maybe use that external HD for a bootable backup and keep it somewhere else. Is Time Capsule the answer to my problem?
    Thank you very much for your help
  2. idunn macrumors 6502

    Jan 12, 2008
    Yes, in part

    ;) Given the date of your posting, perhaps you've figured this out. If not, perhaps I can help in part.

    1) Can Time Capsule store iTunes and iPhoto libraries?

    Yes, I believe it can. To date I have only used it to store movie files downloaded from iTunes, but the principle should be the same for music, photographs, or any other media. Several Apple employees assured me it was impossible to access media on TC with iTunes. I showed them how. It is simple: pull the media file over the 'Backup of…' logo under 'Devices' in the Finder. This will copy it to the TC hard drive. If you are using Time Machine as well, you will see the folder containing all TM backups. Whatever you have copied will appear alongside it, and you can create your own folders to file things as desired.

    Desiring more space on a MacBook, I removed movies transferred to TC entirely from the MacBook, but not their listing within iTunes. When first opening a transferred file, a dialogue box will open asking where it is, and then simply a matter of pointing iTunes to it on TC. You will, by the way, need to have TC mounted for this to work, or to play any file. In other words, it must be on and connected. I only needed to point iTunes to each movie once initially, thereafter they play exactly as if from the internal hard drive of the MacBook. Although, if reestablishing a connection to TC, there seems to be a brief pause the very first time a file from TC is accessed. I can also play these movies using ethernet, or just wi-fi alone.

    One note. Being somewhat new at this, I do not understand why I can easily copy files to TC under 'Devices,' but not its logo under 'Shared.' I did indeed once, somehow, and watched an Apple employee do the same, but have not repeated it. Perhaps someone with more experience can explain the exact ins and outs. But no matter, I am able to store media on TC and access it easily.

    As for Apple TV, I do not know. But believe you should be able to use it in such a configuration, since TC acts as a router. It could serve as the external hard drive you would need in any event, since ATV does not have sufficient capacity for any great amount of media.​

    2) Can I access data on TC remotely using an Apple MobilMe account?

    I have no experience accessing TC via the internet, but see no reason why you could not, assuming your remote internet connection fast enough to stream that you wished.​

    3) Will incremental backups of Time Machine crowd out my stored data on Time Capsule?

    Not exactly. My understanding from these forums is that practically speaking TC cannot be partitioned. By default, if left on, TM will gradually fill the entire hard drive with backup data until there is no space left, and then automatically delete the oldest data as it adds new. Apple recommends that TC be used solely for TM backups. However, it not only can serve as storage for other data, but Apple also indicates in their instructions that TM will only fill the space not occupied by other data on TC. Without exactly knowing yet, my understanding that TM will not overwrite your stored data, only the backups it has made.

    This does leave unresolved, though, what to do with a TM that is gradually filling TC with backup data, this space you might otherwise prefer to devote to other storage. There may be better solutions, which I'll get to in a moment, but this appears to be an issue many have, wishing to use TC for storage as well as TM backups. For now, the inelegant solution seems to be to manually remove old TM backups if you wish more space for storage.​

    Another issue I had, as yet unresolved, was how to best automatically backup TC. Apple may assume redundancy in all data, it being both on one's computer and TC, but not how I intend to use it, nor obviously many others. While serving the purpose of backing up this MacBook, I also may have well over 1TB of unrelated media stored on TC. That obviously should be backed up as well. Thus a separate external hard drive of the same capacity as TC, with a duplicate of all data on it. Exactly how best to configure this the question. Apparently TC will not automatically backup an external HD connected to it, but will (I understand) a HD connected to the computer(s) being backed up by TC.

    I have yet to figure out such a puzzle, or hear from anyone who has. Perhaps one could have a partitioned external HD, one part dedicated to backing up one's computer, the other part for all other storage, music, etc. TM could be instructed to backup just the computer partition. But then TM might, possibly, also then backup both partitions, all contents of this HD, to TC. My understanding that TM is capable of this, but whether automatically in both instances, to two separate HDs, not at all sure. If it would, then the end of partitioning problems with TC, or need to manually remove old TM backups manually.

    I see no reason this partitioned external HD could not be connected to TC, save Apple has not allowed for this, at least insofar as automatic backup is concerned. So this HD would probably have to be connected to one's computer in some fashion, either via ethernet or wi-fi. I do not know, but presume most external HDs on the market do not incorporate wi-fi, so if a solution as elegant as this desired one would also have to incorporate something such as AirPort Extreme.

    If this all seems somewhat convoluted, it does to me as well. One would think that Apple had long since recognized that many of its customers only wish easy access to safely stored media (perhaps a lot, maybe from iTunes) . . . and provided an elegant way to have this. They obviously could, and perfectly capable when so inspired.
  3. loneshark macrumors member

    Apr 20, 2007
    im trying to do something similiar

    I have used my terabyte TC as an external HD since i bought it. I have 900 megs used up, mostly in movies and raw video footage in .dv format.

    anyways, i wanted to set up the time capsule via ethernet to the airport extreme, then be able to use it as a server for my macbook pro and my brothers iMac.

    i want to be able to set certain permissions on some folders on the TC so he cant see certain files.

    In fact all i want to share is the movie folder and nothing else.

    how do i go about only giving his iMac permission to see certain folders?
  4. idunn macrumors 6502

    Jan 12, 2008
    TC as server

    ;) Time Capsule can act as your server, allowing transmission of data on it between a variety of computers, either via ethernet or wi-fi. Since TC is capable of wi-fi, you would not require an AirPort Extreme.

    I believe you should be able to limit access to certain folders, such as just movies, but do not know the procedure. However it is relatively simple to set up permissions through the AirPort Utility to determine which computers have access to your network, if a password required, if permission is read & write, or read only, etc.

    The best way to proceed might be to open the AirPort Utility from the Finder. With it open, select 'Help' from the top tool bar. Select 'AirPort Utility Help' from that menu. From the box to the right, select 'Index.' From the long list of options, select 'remote file sharing.' The explanation given there should give you a good place to start; if you look you will find much related information.

    I should mention that although I intend to use TC for storage as well, that Apple recommends it for use only with Time Machine and its backups. It might be used either way, or both. But if with TM, and leaving it on for automatic backups, by design it will gradually fill up the TC hard drive with its progressive backups, doing so until all space is filled and then deleting the oldest backups as new are added. Apple indicates that any space used with other storage will limit the amount of space TiM has to use, and my belief (without exactly knowing) that TM will only overwrite its backups, not other stored data. Nevertheless, since TC cannot be practically partitioned, this could lead to the necessity at times of manually removing old backups of TM to allow yourself more storage room. There may be a more elegant solution, such as configuring an external hard drive with TC in some fashion. But if not concerned with automatic backups, probably best for your intended use not to enable TM.

    In summation, aside from whether access can be limited to individual folders, that you desire is possible.
  5. loneshark macrumors member

    Apr 20, 2007
    well i was able to set up the time capsule to be logged in with Account permissions.

    I set up 2 accounts, A, and B.

    A is for me

    B is for my brother

    also, there is a setting for a shared folder, this folder can be accessed by both A, and B. so in this folder is where I put the movies and music that i wanted to share.

    A can NOT look at B's stuff and vice versa.

    as far as using time capsule as a server and a time machine backup device, this cannot be done "out of the box"

    you need to take apart the time capsule, remove the hard drive, connect the hard drive to an eSata to USB connector, plug it into your USB port and thru disk utility, create a partition. the partitions would be determined by you, and how much space you want to devote to backing up and file sharing.

    I would guess that in my case, with a 1 terabyte model, with only one mac that i want to backup, that has a 120 gig internal hardrive, that I would dedicate 3 time the amount of space as the drive wanted to be backed up, so that would be 360 gig partition and the rest of the terabyte for file sharing.

    once the partitions are made, you put the TC hard drive back in the TC and run the time machine application.

    then you can proceed like i did and set up the TC to be logged in with designated accounts.

    and done.
  6. miro7373 macrumors newbie

    Oct 9, 2009
    please give more details...

    Great that you solved the problem. I would like to do the same. If I make two partitions on the TC can I then choose which of these partitions that should be used for File Sharing (in the Airport Utility)? Currently the File Sharing view gives no option to select which partition that is used for file-sharing...


  7. loneshark macrumors member

    Apr 20, 2007
    yes of course, it will never use the partition you made for Time Capsule backup.

    out of the box, the Time Machine has a few partitions on it that you dont know about, but you will see them when you go to partition the drive.

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