Time Capsule or other External Hard Drive

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by BUbro90, Jul 4, 2009.

  1. BUbro90 macrumors newbie

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    Jun 19, 2009
    #1
    So I'm headed off to college this fall and I definitely need a backup device for my new 15" MBP -- the question is, which device is more appropriate for my situation. A Time Capsule or other external hd (WD MyBook, etc.)? I've done plenty of searching that yielded some mixed results on TC, namely that its expensive and somewhat slow. I'm not going to be using my MBP to edit videos, use photoshop or anything of that sort, but I do have a few gb's worth of pictures and music that I would like to store elsewhere so that it doesn't slow my computer down. I'd be willing to spend $299 for the 500gb TC if it did perform better than most external hd's, but I'm a first-time mac user so I'm much less knowledgeable than most people on here. What I do know is that TC continually uses more space after backing up and that it can be partitioned to have user data along with the regular TC data (correct me if I'm wrong). I'm really not into "building" my own external hd and I have a mobileme account (I'm not sure if iDisk could help me out in my situation). If someone could point me in the right direction, I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks a lot guys!
     
  2. scienide09 macrumors 65816

    scienide09

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    #2
    Time Capsule (TC) is, in essence, a combination of router and external drive. If you don't need a router, then there's really no sense in paying a premium for just the drive. The advantage of TC is that your Time Machine backups occur over the wireless network -- you don't have to plug things in.

    Any USB or FireWire 800 external drive can be formatted to work with Time Machine, and thus provide the automatic backup you need. You can also partition the external to create some space for Time Machine, and other space for your own file transfers. (You can do the same on the TC). The disadvantage to this is that it won't happen wirelessly -- you'll need to connect the HD to your MBP for the backups to happen.
     
  3. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #3
    I think if you're router supports wireless sharing and has FW/USB port, you can attach any HD to router and share files that way, but I'm not 100% sure
     
  4. xIGmanIx macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    than a mac is pretty overkill for your needs. Get any firewire HD and configure TM to use it.
     
  5. BUbro90 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #5
    So if I hook up an ethernet cable from my university's dorm to the TC, will I be able to wirelessly backup my MBP whilst receiving an internet signal? I ask this because my dorm doesn't have wireless internet...Thanks:)
     
  6. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #6
    Yes, but it ain't the best router.
     
  7. scarboni21 macrumors regular

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    Jun 23, 2008
    #7
    Most dorms or colleges in the US at least do not allow you to have your own wireless router. They look for them on your floor and if they find it they could shut off your internet for the year.
     
  8. BUbro90 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #8
    Great. Thanks a lot for the heads up.
     
  9. ichiban06 macrumors regular

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    Jun 20, 2009
    #9
    a bit off topic but was wondering if you can plug a usb fan into the usb port to keep the TC cool?
     
  10. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    #10
    This overlooks one very, very important feature of Time Capsule - it's a NAS, not just an external drive, and yes, there's a huge difference.

    An external drive (FW, USB, etc.) must be plugged into a computer that's turned on. A NAS is always on and always available to any machine on the network with the proper permissions.

    Part of the price premium on a Time Capsule is this very feature, and many people who shout about how expensive a TC is overlook it. True, not everyone needs it, especially if you're only using one computer - but if you have two or more, and want to be able to share files or a printer at anytime, regardless of which other computers are turned on, then a NAS is a godsend.
     
  11. TRAG macrumors 6502

    TRAG

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    #11
    Well let's say you only have my Mac (that will use an external HD for TM), another separate Mac, 2 PCs, a PS3, two iPhones, and an Apple TV. Wouldn't an Airport Express suffice for this setup? Or would it be better to go for a Time Capsule?
     
  12. TheYellowAudi macrumors member

    TheYellowAudi

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    #12
    I am in about the same position, and I just use an Airport Express. The only problem, is that I have only 1 HDD wired to the MacPro for TM backups. I periodically have to back up my MBP on a different drive. The nice thing about the TC is that you can wirelessly back up ALL of your machines, as well as give them ALL access to any files stored on it, & you can't do that with the Airport Express. Given the size of drives in computers these days, then even the 1TB TC will have a pretty shallow history for each machine when you have 4 computers backed up to it.
     
  13. snowcrasher macrumors newbie

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    #13
    You cannot partition a TC as the drive will not show up on disk utility. If you really want a partitioned TC, then you will have to take out the hard drive, put it in an enclosure, partition it, and finally put it back to the TC enclosure. If you are just looking to limit the size of Time Machine backups, then its much simpler (and less risky, as you wont void the TC warranty) to use a sparse bundle disk image as detailed here. This will limit Time Machine backups to the size of the sparse image that you set initially.
     
  14. J&JPolangin macrumors 68030

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    #14
    ...not really, my AEBS with USB TB drive is available to any machine on my network with out any other machine being on if I choose to do that...
     
  15. TRAG macrumors 6502

    TRAG

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    #15
    Sorry for not being clearer, but "my Mac" is the only one that would need backing up. The other Mac and PCs were just fillers for my roommates.
     
  16. suekitch macrumors regular

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    Jun 27, 2009
    #16
    I'm afraid I can't contribute much regarding the hardware but something you have said has me worried - you speak of moving your pictures and music elsewhere so they won't slow down your computer, and you also say you want a backup device.

    If you put all your pictures and music onto one drive (and this is true even if they are just on your laptop hard drive), if that drive fails, you're stuffed and you've lost it all. Make sure you do have a true backup somewhere if that stuff matters to you!

    As for MobileMe - I think it's great for university! I've got all my work files stored on it. Yes, it is slow. But I know I have my files on the interweb waiting for me wherever I am, plus if my computer goes down, I haven't lost any work. It really comes into its own when you have more than one computer too so you have the latest version wherever you are.
     
  17. BUbro90 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #17
    Thanks for the input, MobileMe seems like a sound option for keeping some files and what not over the web. The reason I originally posted was because I'm beginning to fret that my 250 HD isn't big enough for what I'm going to need in the future for school. Now that I realize my university doesn't allow new wireless access points (thanks scarboni21), I probably won't be able to take advantage of all of the TC's features...but then again, when I take it home (from my university) I could use it more efficiently there. Decisions, decisions...
     
  18. suekitch macrumors regular

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    #18
    My university doesn't allow us to have wireless routers either... but err, I kinda have one anyway, and I'm not alone. I just have the good sense to not broadcast my SSID unlike my peers!
     
  19. mwchris macrumors regular

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    #19
    I was in the same boat as you, now mind you I am not at University, and I have multiple computers, but I needed a way to back up my data. I would not suggest going the Time Capsule route as the majority of universities will not allow you to plug it into the network, however, you could just set up a network and connect to it when you want to back up, if you don't want to have to plug in a cord??? (but you have to plug in to charge anyway)

    I do the following two things:

    1. Buy a firewire hard drive (not from apple) about 3 to 4 times the size of your hard drive and partition it to as many partitions as you want, but at least two. One for Time Machine, and One for Scratch, spare space in case you ever need it. This way you don't have to reformat and lose your Time Machine back up down the line. (You could also partition it three ways and make a clone of your hard drive periodically since I have heard Time Machine backups don't always work.)

    Now that you have those partitions set up your Time Machine back-up to one of the partitions (Also if you haven't already rename it, esp. if you made multiple partitions.) Then let it do it's initial back-up. Then from that point on plug it in once a week, once a month, or however frequently you would like, but do it at night when it is charging (since you have to plug it in at some point anyway) and let it do its backups.

    2. Download DropBox. It is free, up to 2 gigs, and it will keep a copy of the data online, and on your computer (multiple computers if you have them). It works great, relatively quick, and keeps multiple back-ups on the web version. So, what I do now if for any current project, or current class keep that information in my dropbox folder, which syncs online, and can be accessible from any computer online. This items sync any time they change (provided you are online, or they will sync the next time you go online).

    So, this way you have a long term back-up that you do periodically, because quite frankly for the average user the hourly or 30 minutes backups time machine does it overkill and waste resources. And then you have the dropbox backup for daily current project backups.


    I do this with one large firewire hard drive for my desktop and laptop all on the same drive. (I also have a cloned copy of my laptop drive I update periodically on another drive using the free carbon copy cloner.) And I also have a scratch space on the drive for big projects occasionally, but I rarely use it. If you buy a quality drive you shouldn't have any problems.

    Just an FYI, they don't figure out you have a router from your SSID being broadcast . . .
     
  20. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    #20
    That's because an AEBS incorporates the functionality of a NAS by providing an OS and networking to an external drive; a typical router doesn't do that.

    The same is true of a TC - it's not just an "external drive," it incorporates NAS hardware, which is a big part of the reason it costs more than a USB or FW drive.
     
  21. suekitch macrumors regular

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    #21
    They don't seem to figure it out at all, or even care after all. The very little staff we have on site is completely clueless about even our site intercom let alone our internet setups.

    I was initially worried about it (and would turn off the WiFi if anyone moaned, as it is I only really use it for my iPhone so I don't see how it can have much impact on anyone else), and I just cloned the MAC address from my PC at the time, in case that would help any.
     
  22. ian.maffett macrumors 6502

    ian.maffett

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    #22
    I see a lot of good info here which is mostly accurate - especially the NAS mention. It is definitely cheaper to buy a Linksys (etc) router and a 500G NAS Lacie drive (~$150) which will do the same job as the TC. However, one fact that I don't see mentioned here that can entice a purchase is the fact that if you have Mobile Me and a Time Capsule you will be able to see your Time Capsule over the internet via MM and always (or at least as internet access allows) have access to what you might store on your TC.
    Personally, I have a WD320 MyBook on my G5 and use this as my TM backup drive - works fine. I also know people with the previously mentioned Lacie setup which is pretty much stand-alone and it also works perfectly.
     
  23. scienide09 macrumors 65816

    scienide09

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    #23
    You can do this with a NAS as well, as long as you open it up to the Net and trust the built-in security. Plus, no Mobile Me subscription required, therefore saving you some extra money.

    In addition, depending on your NAS's hardware and software/firmware, you may be able to configure it as a website server.
     
  24. BUbro90 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #24
  25. scienide09 macrumors 65816

    scienide09

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    #25
    Time Capsule does not have a FireWire port. Like the Airport Extreme, it's a USB port. The other ports are: 4 ethernet jacks (1 in, 3 out), a security slot, and the AC adapter port.

    As for FireWire vs. USB for your external, its up to your personal preference. FireWire usually is faster and is good if you want to be running applications stored on the external drive, or if you'll be using the drive to store video (or other large) files. USB is a lot more common on consumer-level external drives, and more common overall for day-to-day computing.

    If plan want to connect the external drive directly to your 15" MBP, both FireWire 800 and USB will be fine.
     

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