Time Capsule + Macbook Air = Huge Mistake

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by urkel, Aug 11, 2011.

  1. urkel macrumors 68030

    Nov 3, 2008
    I completely blame myself on this so don't take it the wrong way, but the Time Capsule + Macbook Air is a horrible combination.

    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 an ethernet adapter but its $30 and limited to USB2 so its pretty slow also
    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.

    I'm kicking myself because Ive been teetering on getting an Airport Extreme + HDD combo for a while and I was given a HUGE warning because the initial Time Machine backup took 2days! So if it takes that long to put data on, why would it be any faster to get data out.

    The obvious answer is to return the Time Capsule but I waited too long (2days ironically). And now I'm going to buy an external drive to use for Time Machine instead because if I need a mission critical restore then the Time Capsule is UNRELIABLE.
  2. urkel thread starter macrumors 68030

    Nov 3, 2008
    Follow Up Question:

    Time Machine backups to the Time Capsule are sparse images but to a local drive are another type of backup file. Is it possible to do a local wired TM backup and then plug it into the Time Capsule USB port and continue to do it wirelessly? What I want is the convenience of a wireless Time Machine backup for daily backups but a removable local drive for when I need to restore.
  3. bruleke macrumors 6502


    Jun 26, 2009
    Man, thanks a lot for this post!

    I was just going to buy a Time Capsule (which is expensive, right?) but now I am going to buy My Book Studio 2TB Firewire 800!

    I hate backup using USB because its too slow, so I wonder how slow it would be to backup 500gb over the air using Time Capsule!

    Sometimes I ask myself: why so many people are selling their Time Capsules on ebay and other sites? Now I know...
  4. rayjay86 macrumors 6502

    May 15, 2011
    Why can't you return the time capsule? I thought there was a 14 day return policy...
  5. urkel thread starter macrumors 68030

    Nov 3, 2008
    Most stores are 30days, but in order to declutter the story I left out that as a Best Buy Premier Silver member then I actually get 45 days... and I still waited too long! The Time Capsule really is a "set it and forget it" device because once I set it up I completely ignored it and didn't discover its deficiencies until I actually needed it. Thats why I'm really kicking myself.

    Also omitted from my story:
    - I put my 1.2TB iTunes library there. Accessing from Macbook Air is acceptable but moving data around is SLOW so an external would be better because I can leave it on the TC but also plug it in the Mac when necessary.
    - Time Capsule emits A LOT of heat even when idle. So even when I remove my iTunes and Time Machine from it, I really don't trust it to store critical data that can't be extracted in an emergency without opening it up and voiding the warranty.

    So I really do feel like a moron because my new setup will be an empty 2TB Time Capsule with a 2TB Hard Drive attached for Time Machine and iTunes storage. :eek: I was going to try my hand at Ebay but they're flooded with Time Capsules that don't sell for much.
  6. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    I think you are just plain wrong. TC + MBA is a spectacular combination.

    Who cares how slow it takes to make your initial backup. Your MBA only has a 256GB disk... so worst case, you go to bed and it is finished in the morning. After that first backup... incremental backups take very little time. You generally never notice they are occurring.

    Compare that to any direct attached HDD. It only backs up when you physically attach the drive. Bad idea.

    Finally... keeping your iTunes library on the same device as your backup drive is also wrong in so many ways.

    My recommendation: Keep your TC and use it exclusively for backup, put your iTunes data on some different media... and make sure that get's backed up as well.

    Personally... I use one TC for backing up our 2TB iMac... and a second TC for backing up all of our MBA's and MBP's. It works flawlessly.

  7. ender21 macrumors 6502


    Jul 15, 2010
    Southern Cal
    Yeah I have to +1 this. I'm not usually quick to poo-poo someone's implementation within their own network, but I think there are other solutions you could use here that would make the combo much better.

    1. USB 2.0 isn't the limiting part of the Apple USB-to-Ethernet adapter. The 100Mbps is.

    2. Even if your Air was maxed with a 256GB SSD, transferring over USB2.0 at a modest 20MB/s should take only 3.5 hours. So if you got a USB-to-Gigabit adapter instead of Apple's, that would help. Then every subsequent Time Machine interaction should only be several MB or maybe 1 or 2 GB depending on how frequently you backup, taking much less time.

    3. I sure hope you have your Capsule + Air set up to be connected at 5GHz rather than 2.4GHz.

    4. Anandtech just reviewed the new Time Capsule and Airport Extreme and rated the wireless radios as some of the best around. So while it may not have a firewire port on it, not all the technology is old. In fact it's Wireless N configuration is perfect for the new N radios on the 2011 Airs.

    5. It seems the bottleneck in your chain is the Air, not whatever NAS you'd use. No matter what NAS you went with you're limited to either Wifi speeds or USB 2.0 speeds, unless you get a Thunderbolt external hard drive and connect it directly to your Air, or wait for a Thunderbolt-to-Gigabit Ethernet adapter.
  8. urkel, Aug 11, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2011

    urkel thread starter macrumors 68030

    Nov 3, 2008
    I guess everyone has a different perspective on how to judge backup devices. Some peoples defense relies on judging the simplicity of the backup process, but I judge backup by how well it performs when you need it most. RESTORATION.

    The Time Capsule does a fine job after that initial setup and you never have to think about it. But when it came to restoring a new machine the the restoration off the Time Capsule estimated 12-18hrs while the restoration off a local external super duper backup took 30minutes. Obviously having multiple sources of backup is nice, but if I only relied on the TC then I'd have missed a solid day of work.
  9. knarzie macrumors regular

    Aug 5, 2008
    I prefer Airport Extreme base station + external HDDs, so I can use some for time machine, and others for iphoto + itunes library to be accessed by the various macs in our household
  10. ender21, Aug 11, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2011

    ender21 macrumors 6502


    Jul 15, 2010
    Southern Cal
    You're right -- It sounds like you bought the wrong product. It's simple math to determine that an external USB2.0 drive (or Thunderbolt drive) is going to restore from backup to a Macbook Air a lot faster than ANY Network-attached drive, NOT just a Time Capsule. As you mentioned in your first post, having that knowledge *before* the purchase would have been nice.

    If having your backups be network accessible is important to you, though, then you're going to have to live with the limitations that your Air has. Wifi or USB2.0 only go so fast. That's not the Time Capsule's fault. But from the sounds of it, you already have a direct-connect external solution that, as expected, restores on an Air faster than a network connection.

    My Time Capsule restored to my Mac Pro via GigE probably 4 times as fast as it did to my Air. That's expected behavior given the Air's limitations that have nothing to do with the Time Capsule.

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