Time Capsule questions (incl. streaming to PS3/360)

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by karansaraf, Aug 22, 2011.

  1. karansaraf, Aug 22, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2011

    karansaraf macrumors regular

    Jul 18, 2010
    I bought a MBP last month and am now exploring the NAS market to see which ones suit me the best.

    Option 1: Standard NAS drive. Pros - they can stream straight to devices like X360/PS3 (which I will be buying soon) and DLNA to TVs. Cons - Time Machine backups seem to be a difficult thing to configure in some cases.

    Option 2: Time Capsule.
    Pros - Time Machine backups seamless. Cons - they cannot stream directly to devices like PS3.

    So if I was to go for Time Capsule, I had a few questions.

    1. What is the difference between Airport Extreme and Time Capsule? Is it purely that TC has built in storage capacity?

    2. Is it possible to connect my router to TC via ethernet (because of the positioning of the router, I use HomePlugs which go Router > Ethernet cable > home mains socket/electricity > ethernet cable > computer/Time Capsule) and then connect the TC to my MBP via ethernet also? Ie. Router > ethernet (home plugs) > TC > ethernet > MBP?

    ( Home Plugs are similar to this: http://www.amazon.co.uk/TP-Link-TL-...VKP4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1314050244&sr=8-1 The ethernet connects the router to one of those plugs, which goes into the main socket. The other plug is connected to the mains socket in a different location/room of the house, and connects the other device via ethernet also. It's like having a hard wired ethernet connection)

    3a. Am I right in saying that TC does not support DLNA and also cannot stream directly to a PS3 or Xbox 360? That being the case, I presume there must be a way to do this through my MBP and OSX. An app of some sort that allows the MBP/TC to communicate with a PS3 that is connected to the same home network? If so, any suggestions as to which app I can use?

    3b. Assuming I can stream from MBP/TC to PS3/360 using some app, how good a quality is the streaming? I have a lot of normal 350mb AVI files, but also the 720p .mkv format files that are much higher resolution/quality that will be stored on the TC. Can you stream these files at their full resolution over wi fi?

    3c. Also, what if I had connected the router to TC to MBP via ethernet, and then also connected the router to PS3 via ethernet as well. Then I wouldn't have to rely on wi fi at all, would I? The content would stream through the ethernet to the router, to the PS3, without having to resort to being transmitted over wireless connection, right? Resulting in no degradation of quality being played on the PS3/TV?

    4. Can I partition the TC using Disk Utility into a Time Machine backup partition, Data partition etc?

    5. I presume TC must be formatted into the HFS+ file system to use Time Machine? Can Windows computers read/write HFS+? If not, are there programs I can download that allow them to read/write?

    Many thanks for all your help!
  2. skorpien macrumors 68020

    Jan 14, 2008
    I highly recommend a Synology NAS as it can do everything including Time Machine backups. But I'll take a shot at answering your questions.

    1. Yes, that and the TC has an internal PSU, leading to the TC running hotter. That was the main problem with TCs failing, but it seems that Apple has somewhat remedied the situation by using cooler running drives I think.

    2. Yes, you can set your TC in Bridge mode (turn DHCP off) and connect it to your modem/router through the mains socket I believe. This allows the TC to act as a wireless access point, and any devices connected to either your modem/router or TC will see each other.

    3. I'm not experienced with this, so I'll leave it to another user to answer. If you're looking for media streaming however, the NAS would be a much better and faster solution. And rather than having to find workarounds, the NAS will come with the software built in.

    4. No, not easily. You'll need to either open your TC physically, remove the HDD and partition, or create a sparsebundle file and mount it and change the size manually. You can however connect a USB HDD to the TC and use that as media storage while keeping the internal for backups.

    5. The drive is formatted HFS+, but the TC is capable of allowing Macs to connect using AFP and Windows using SMB. It's not so much the hard drive format as the network protocol that is important with a NAS.
  3. karansaraf thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 18, 2010
    The reason that I was slightly leaning towards TC is that it requires very little messing around with and would just work pretty much straight away, it's got a bigger capacity (I would have gone with 2x1TB in the Synology, mirrored via RAID), is smaller than the Synology and looks nicer (though this is not as important).

    Obviously functionality has to be the biggest determinant though.

    You mentioned TCs failing. Is that a common problem? Are there any comparisons between TCs and other common external drives (WD/Seagate etc) to see failure rates? Obviously it would be a catastrophe if it failed as I would have only the files on my MBP backed up via TM, and not the files that were only present on the TC.
  4. Brian33 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 30, 2008
    USA (Virginia)
    If these are files that are important to you and cannot be replaced by some reasonable method, you should back them up somehow, whether you choose a NAS or a TC. You should expect HDDs to fail, regardless of the device they're in. Of course you want to minimize the chance of failure, but that doesn't remove the need to back up the files.

    A lot of the 1st-gen TC did fail in the power supply. The files were still OK on the drive, though. The case can be opened up, the drive removed, and files copied off, at least if it's out of warranty. I believe Apple offered to copy files to a replacement TC for those that were still in warranty, but I might be mistaken. Personally, I think the new TC are safe, but this is hotly debated.

    I think your decision hinges on your Question 3, which I can't really help you with.

  5. skorpien macrumors 68020

    Jan 14, 2008
    The main issue with TCs failing was that the PSU would overheat and they would die. As Brian33 mentioned, the files on the drive were intact but you would indeed have to open up the TC to remove the drive. I've yet to hear about any recent gen TCs failing in this manner, but given the track record of the first generation of TCs, it's not something I would chance again.

    If you want functionality, the NAS is by far your best choice. The TCs transfer rates for files, whether wirelessly or through Ethernet, will not compare to what you'll get from a NAS. As for ease of use, I do believe that since the Synology lineup was designed to work with TM, it should be a relatively easy setup.

    Also, do not rely on one single backup for any files worth backing up. Always have a contingency plan. Whether you want to go as far as having offsite backups or backing up to a cloud is up to you, but you should always have at least one redundant backup. As an aside, I wouldn't consider a mirrored RAID as a very effective backup by itself.
  6. Lennyvalentin macrumors 65816


    Apr 25, 2011
    There's an integrated fan in the more recent time machines, not sure about gen. 2, but my gen. 3 has it, and the most recent gen.4 also has it. The only thing that differs, hardware-wise, between gen. 3 and 4 are the wifi transceivers by the way.

    Most of the heat in the TC does not originate from the power supply by the way, but rather the electronics, and of course the HDD when that is active (most of the time it sits in sleep mode.) There's big aluminium blocks covering certain components like the main SoC and gigabit switch that transfer heat directly to the top cover, using that as a passive radiator surface. That's why it feels rather hot compared to most other products with a plastic shell, because there's actually a metal plate underneath the plastic that acts as a heat spreader.

    Plus, there's the aforementioned fan that will kick in should temps start to climb too much.
  7. skorpien macrumors 68020

    Jan 14, 2008
    My first gen TC had a fan as well. It still died. The fan only circulates the hot hair. There is no vent to exhaust the hot air nor any intake for cold air. And while the PSU may not be generating the heat, it is the part of the Time Capsule that was dying because of it. If the PSU were external as in the AEBS, even though the other components are the ones generating the heat, it would not be affected by the excess heat.

    The fan did nothing to prevent the first generation TCs from dying. Doubtful it would do much for the current generation. Like I said, Apple may have mitigated the meltdowns by using cooler components, but until they provide adequate ventilation in their product, I'd steer clear.

    This is all purely my opinion, having had a Time Capsule fail on me. I was lucky enough to have Apple replace it for me, but I'll never buy another one again unless there is a major redesign.
  8. karansaraf thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 18, 2010
    Thanks very much for the replies. I guess Synology NAS it is!

    It comes just as an enclosure, so I would have to buy two internal HDs to slot into the bays (I'm assuming 3.5in).

    Could you recommend which brands of internals to go for? I'm not familiar with how reliable different brands are for internal drives.

    And I know that many 2TB externals were having problems with overheating/failing this last year or two, but I presume that this will not be the case with internals and I can safely buy 2x 2TB internal HDs to put into the two bays of the NAS enclosure?
  9. skorpien macrumors 68020

    Jan 14, 2008
    Any major hard drive manufacturer should work. Different people will swear by different brands. I myself like WD and Seagate (haven't had a problem with either) and I've heard some others here really like Hitachi. I say any of those three should be good.

    As for overheating, the Synology will have adequate ventilation and fans to keep your drives cool.

    And yes, most NAS drives take 3.5" drives. The Synology also gives you the option of using 2.5" drives with an adapter I believe.

  10. karansaraf thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 18, 2010
    I see that the Synology only has one ethernet port on the back. I was hoping to router > NAS > MBP all via ethernet, but I suppose if the NAS is close to the MBP, I can just plug them together with USB2.
  11. skorpien macrumors 68020

    Jan 14, 2008
    You could always keep the NAS next to your router. Or you can purchase a gigabit switch and connect the NAS and MBP to the that. If you plan on using the NAS to stream to other devices, it has to be connected to the network somehow.
  12. karansaraf thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 18, 2010
    How does this sound for a set up:

    Router > ethernet > PS3

    Router > Synology NAS via Ethernet cable linked to the homeplugs I mentioned earlier (ie. Router > ethernet cable > electrical plug that goes into a mains socket > another electrical plug that goes into a different socket in a different part of the house > ethernet cable > NAS) - supposed to be no different to having an ethernet directly plugged in ( http://www.amazon.co.uk/TP-Link-TL-...VKP4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1314139760&sr=8-1 )

    Synology NAS > USB > MBP

    As far as I can see, that way:

    1. NAS is hard wired to router, therefore no loss/degradation of signal because of wireless being transmitted over some distance.
    2. NAS is hard wired to MBP via USB if I want to transfer large files over, otherwise wireless access is acceptable. Also can be accessed wirelessly from other computers.
    3. NAS can either stream content to PS3 (in the same room) or the long way round via hardwired ethernet cables (NAS > ethernet/homeplugs > router > PS3).

    And I wouldn't have to buy any extra adapters etc.

    Sound like it would work?
  13. skorpien macrumors 68020

    Jan 14, 2008
    The USB port is for connecting and sharing external HDDs, printers and other USB devices. I do not believe you can connect your computer via USB to access the NAS. You'll need to either keep it next to your router or purchase a switch.
  14. karansaraf thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 18, 2010
    Oh I see.

    I've just been looking at different google results for "gigabit switch" and they all seem like pretty big boxes that have at least 8 ports (most of them seem to have 24 or more) and I'm not familiar with the terminology used in many of them (for example, 24 port 10/100 + 2 port gigabit switch). What does that mean?

    I only really need the 2 ports, right? So that I can connect one end to the router, and then use the 2 ports to connect both the NAS and the MBP.

    Would you be able to point me in the direction of an appropriate one that is reasonably cheap?

    Apologies for the many questions, this is clearly an area where I have very little knowledge!

    Many thanks for your help.
  15. skorpien macrumors 68020

    Jan 14, 2008
    No worries. The smallest I've been able to find are 5 port switches. The cheapest one I could find on newegg is this D-Link 8 port switch (oddly enough, the 5 port version was more expensive):


    You'll be able to connect up to 7 devices as one port is used to connect to the router. It should be relatively easy to set up.

    Those 24+ port ones are more for business/enterprise use (file servers, large wired networks, web servers, etc.). You just need a smaller switch, and if the 8 port version is cheaper, then you'll have more ports for less money :p

    PS - gigabit means 1000 Mbps, so most of the ports on the 24+2 port switch are only 10/100 Mbps with only 2 operating at 1000 Mbps.
  16. karansaraf thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 18, 2010
    Right, that makes sense.

    So with only 2 gigabit ports, and 3 devices to connect, which ones would you suggest I connect to the 2 gigabit ports and which one goes in the 10/100 port?

    I would think router and NAS to go into the gigabit and MBP into the 10/100.

    Also with regards to the 10/100 ports, I'm presuming that the speed is dependent on what type of cable you insert into it. If I've got a standard ethernet cable connecting the MBP to the switch, then I should be able to achieve the 100mbps transfer through it, right? Similarly, standard ethernet ports into the gigabit ports shouldn't throttle any traffic speeds because of the cable, right?
  17. skorpien macrumors 68020

    Jan 14, 2008
    I should have clarified that all of the ports on the D-Link switch that I linked are gigabit ports. They all operate at 1000 Mbps given that the devices and Ethernet cables used support it.

    If you want gigabit speeds, you'll need at least a Cat 5e Ethernet cable. You can use Cat 6 as well, but for short distances Cat 5e should be sufficient. Don't use Cat 5 as it will only give you 100 Mbps speeds (I believe).

    Lastly, both your MBP and the Synology are capable of connecting at 1000 Mbps. Given the proper cable, you should be able to transfer files between them at full speed.

    The documentation that comes with your switch should tell you how to connect it. With this particular model I believe order doesn't matter, so you can connect your router, MBP and NAS to any port. Double check the documentation though just to be sure.
  18. karansaraf thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 18, 2010
    Thanks so much for your help!

    Now to figure out whether the cables I have are Cat5/5e/6 etc!
  19. skorpien macrumors 68020

    Jan 14, 2008
    You're quite welcome! Glad to help :)

    Oh, and it should say on the cables themselves in small print.

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