Time Capsule vs using an external hard drive

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by halfmonkey, Sep 28, 2012.

  1. halfmonkey macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 17, 2011
    #1
    I'm interested in maybe getting a Time Capsule and updating my router at the same time but in doing a search of these forums, it seems that many people are having problems with their Time Capsules.

    I can't seem to find anything on somebody hard wiring their Time Capsule to their iMac and letting it back up through Time Machine via a hard connection instead of over wi-fi. It seems that when TC backs up via wi-fi, it slows the network down.

    I'd like to ask some questions and if you know the answer, please respond to which ever question to can.

    1. Can you connect the TC via an ethernet cable and have the TC back up that way or does it only back up via wi-fi?
    2. Can you set a time when the data is backed up or does the system somehow select a time?
    3. Does the TC back up when the computer falls asleep or must the cimputer be awake?
    4. If I just buy an extenral hard drive and connect it via thunderbolt, is there anything different in the process that I need to be aware of?
    5. If I use an external hard drive, I won't be connecting it via an ethernet cable so is there anything to keep in mind with this set up?
     
  2. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #2
    The problems with the Time Capsule you are reading about were from the first couple generations of the device. The newer ones seem to have worked the bugs out and are fine. I have a Time Capsule and it works just fine. Nice having backups just take care of themselves.

    I'll try an answer your questions below.

    1. Can you connect the TC via an ethernet cable and have the TC back up that way or does it only back up via wi-fi?

    A: It can do either. Many people do the first backup via wired because it is faster, then subsequent backups vis wireless.

    2. Can you set a time when the data is backed up or does the system somehow select a time?

    A: By default Time Machine runs every hour. There are some aftermarket utilities that hack Time Machine to change this if you like.

    3. Does the TC back up when the computer falls asleep or must the cimputer be awake?

    A: If you have a 2010 or newer Mac portable with an SSD that supports Powernap, it will backup when asleep... otherwise no.

    4. If I just buy an extenral hard drive and connect it via thunderbolt, is there anything different in the process that I need to be aware of?

    A: Nope... same deal.

    5. If I use an external hard drive, I won't be connecting it via an ethernet cable so is there anything to keep in mind with this set up?

    A: Nope.
     
  3. Brian33 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2008
    Location:
    USA (Virginia)
    #3
    I agree with Weaselboy's comments. Also, put your mind at ease about hard wiring a Time Capsule to an iMac -- I've been doing that for over 4 years and it's been great. An external backup drive connected to your iMac should also work great.

    I think the real big value of a TC is when one has portable machines. It's much easier to have them backed up automatically, wirelessly, to a TC than to remember to plug them into external drives. When I bought my TC, I needed both a good router and a backup disk so it made sense, even though I didn't have a portable Mac at the time. I do have a MacBook Pro now, and I'm really glad I got the TC.

    So, while it sounds like an external drive would work very well for you now, you might consider whether there's a portable Mac in your future...
     
  4. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2005
    #4
    For a single iMac, it's hard to justify the premium of the Time Capsule. The only thing you'll really gain is being to locate the drive away from the imac for security or noise concerns.

    Beyond those, a regular drive will perform as well or better at a much lower price, and it can be shared as a network Time Machine location in the future should you add any wireless devices.
     
  5. brad-apple macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2012
    #5
    I agree with both Brian33 and zhenya.

    I could never get my wife to hook her MacBook up to an external drive, so the TimeCapsule is perfect for that--it backs up whenever she's sittin' on the couch using her MacBook at home (convenient as heck for my MBP too!), however, for a single iMac totally unnecessary. If you ever might have non-iOS devices like MacBooks, or even just two iMacs (and don't want to schlep the HD between both), however, the TC is very convenient.

    For iOS devices (iPhone, iPad), just use iCloud. It works great. For only a few bucks extra a year (like $20 a *year*) you get 15 GB, plenty for my iPhone & iPad.
     
  6. ologyteacher macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2012
    #6
    Using the tc hard wired

    Is it possible to simply use the tc hard wired to to the imac and not use the wifi component of it and just use the networkthat I have already?
     
  7. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #7
    Sure. Just connect the TC to an ethernet port on your existing network and configure it in bridge mode with the wireless off. You can do all this from the Airport Utility app.
     
  8. Brian33 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2008
    Location:
    USA (Virginia)
    #8
    You can't plug the TC into the iMac with a USB cable -- that won't work. But, you can use an ethernet cable to plug the TC into any available ethernet port on your existing routers or switches. Then it will be "hard wired" in the sense that it's cabled to your iMac via ethernet and not accessed by WiFi (assuming your iMac is cabled to your router or switch).

    Yes, you can turn off the WiFi feature of the TC and just use it as a network disk on your existing network. (In Airport Utility.app-->Wireless-->Wireless Mode-->Off) You'd also want to turn off the DHCP feature (Airport Utility.app-->Internet-->Connection Sharing-->Off (Bridge Mode).)

    In this case you're "paying extra" for the router features of the TC which you wouldn't be using, so it might make sense to look at some other network-attached-storage (NAS) unit, which could be cheaper or give you more features. On the other hand, the TC is reliable with Time Machine, and easy to set up and get working with Airport Utility.
     

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