Why buy Time Capsule vs Airport Extreme Base Station + External Disk?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by DTphonehome, Aug 13, 2008.

  1. DTphonehome macrumors 68000

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    #1
    Hey All,
    I'm about to upgrade my wireless network, and was wondering why I would want to buy the Time Capsule when I can get an AE Base station and then buy any USB disk I like and use that the same way I would use the TC. It would seem the latter option would allow me to upgrade capacity at will (by changing or adding a new external disk), while getting the TC will lock me into the drive it comes with.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. aristobrat macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2005
    #2
    You may not care about either one of these, but since you asked: :p

    1. Time Capsule is a tidier solution. One device, one power cable, no USB cables.

    2. Time Machine on an AEBS + external USB isn't supported by Apple (last I heard, anyway).

    Like I said, neither may be a deal for you, but I've seen them both mentioned by others. :)
     
  3. JAWWC macrumors regular

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    Jun 1, 2008
    #3
    You can also add a USB HDD onto the time capsule if you do need extra room.
     
  4. DTphonehome thread starter macrumors 68000

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    #4
    Thanks for the feedback. Yes, I did consider that it's a neater solution, but I'll probably end up putting an external disk on the TC anyway, so I won't get that advantage. And as far as to whether that method is supported by Apple, I'm hearing conflicting info on the web... some people say it works for them, others say it doesn't. Does attaching an external disk to a TC expand the storage to allow for more backup space? The 500GB won't do it for me, and the 1TB version is too pricey.
     
  5. DTphonehome thread starter macrumors 68000

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    #5
    Ah, ok, thanks. Maybe I'll spring for the 500GB TC and just add space as needed.

    Now my dilemma is getting used or new. I know how complicated these base stations can be, so it might be nice to have Apple support. But now I'm spending a lot more than I wanted to.
     
  6. -hh macrumors 68020

    -hh

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    #6
    This shortcoming was fixed with an update (March 08).

    The caveat is that the USB drive needs to be 'compatible', which pragmatically means that the external drive first needs to be attached to a Mac and either formatted as Mac OS X Extended (Journaled) or verified & repaired with Apple’s Disk Utility program. Otherwise, the HD might not be visible from within Time Machine to be selected as a backup source.


    FWIW, another thing to consider is to have a robust backup strategy. Having Time Machine save to one external HD is better than having no safety net, but the industry minimum typically is 3 backups that are rotated and periodically tested.

    What might work as a compromise fairly painlessly with Time Machine would be to have a pair of HDs set up as a RAID (can be done with Disk Utility), although you would also want to also add an automated RAID status checker...don't want one of the HDs to die and for the system to not tell you about it. Might want to check out some products like RaidEye .


    -hh
     
  7. DTphonehome thread starter macrumors 68000

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    #7
    I appreciate the points you make. Now, is using an external HD as a Time Machine disk on an AEBS "officially" supported? I ask because I'm concerned that either the feature will go away in a future update, or my backups won't be good. In either case, I would rather pay the extra hundred bucks and be officially blessed.

    I do appreciate the importance of a robust backup strategy. I have tons of pics and videos of my family which are priceless. My optimal setup would be two backup drives RAIDed together, then a small NAS drive for music and the like. Assuming I use a TC, how would you recommend I set this up? Have an external RAID mirror to the internal TC drive, and another small NAS drive (with the external drives connected to a USB hub)?
     
  8. -hh macrumors 68020

    -hh

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    #8
    Here's a 20 March 2008 MacWorld news article on 'Official' support, but do read some of the notes.

    In general, I personally don't think that I would pursue buying an Airport Extreme with the immediate intent to also buy and hang a hard drive off of it for backups...I'd instead go for the Time Capsule (500GB) instead.

    My rationale here is that the AEBS lists for $180 and the TC-500GB is $300, which means that that extra $120 is buying a 500GB HD (worth $90) and a box for it to go into (worth $30)...overall, it is an equal value deal.

    And while I'd like to have the larger 1TB version, at a +$200 premium over the 500GB, Apple's price is ~$100 more than it should be, considering current HD prices.


    Personally, my current reality is different, in that I already have a 3rd party wireless router, as well as a healthy 10/100/1000 wired system. As such, I'm debating between just having a big external HD and enabling 'sharing', or picking up a NAS.


    Currently, I have a RAID-1 mirror external HD for my backup and a "plain" external HD for my 2nd backup...both are within ~2ft of the desktop setup and running off the same power lead, so in theory, one lightning strike could take out all three copies...not a very good solution. As an interim, I need to pull one off the computer and carry it to the other end of the house.

    I want to get the backup copy (copies) away from the main version...that's one reason why I'm thinking NAS (get it to the other end of the house), although the true ultimate goal is off-site storage, which can include just taking an external HD out of the house and put it in my desk drawer at work. One of the catches is to also have the personal discipline to phyiscally carry a drive back & forth ~1x/month.

    I'm also looking at off-site through spare capacity on my web hosting service, but the bandwidth of my internet connection makes this painfully slow. I think that I calculated that I needed 20+ days running 24/7 just to get my full 60GB iPhoto library backed up online in this fashion...Verizon's basic DSL doesn't have a decent upload speed.


    -hh
     
  9. WilliamG macrumors 604

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    Mar 29, 2008
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    Seattle
    #9
    Time Capsule 1TB too expensive? Not anymore. I picked up a brand new one for under $300 delivered.

    How?

    eBay.com. Brand new they sell for around $400, and then you get 25% cashback via MS's Live program, which means $300 after all is said and done. Can't beat that with a bat.

    Here's an example:

    http://cgi.ebay.com/NEW-APPLE-TIME-...ryZ80044QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

    $399 delivered. - 25% = $300.

    The end?
     
  10. Apple Ink macrumors 68000

    Apple Ink

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    Mar 7, 2008
    #10
    One reason is that Apple doesnt officially support AirDisks!
     
  11. DTphonehome thread starter macrumors 68000

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    #11
    Thanks for the suggestion. Are these supported by Apple when purchased off of eBay?
     
  12. WilliamG macrumors 604

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    Mar 29, 2008
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    Seattle
    #12
    The warranty of a Time Capsule is covered under the warranty of whatever system it is used with if you have Applecare left on it.
    So, in theory, the warranty lasts forever if you keep getting a new computer with Applecare.

    "Extended service and support

    The AppleCare Protection Plan for your computer covers Time Capsule."

    From http://www.apple.com/timecapsule/specs.html
     
  13. -hh macrumors 68020

    -hh

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    #13
    Pretty much, since my comment was that in my opinion, Apple's MSRP for the 1TB was overpriced by $100, and at $400, the 1TB on eBay is discounted by $100 off of Apple's MSRP. In other words, the eBay price is what it should be selling for IMO.

    This does ignore the MS Live program discount that can get stacked on that, but to a certain degree, that's OK, since that same discount can be just as easily applied to a 500GB version offered on eBay. I noticed one listed for $250, which is only a $50 discount off of Apple MSRP, which would net out the two products at $187.50 versus $300 ... a ~$110 difference for upgrading from 500GB to 1TB - - ummmm, okay.

    Of course to use & trust Microsoft's Live program (and cashback rebates) is a different question...particularly on a Mac advocacy website :D I'm not familiar with this MS program, so a few comments & pointers would be appreciated. All in all, its just good old fashioned bargain hunting for optimizing value, although if it is hooked into YA new credit card, I'll pass.


    -hh
     
  14. DTphonehome thread starter macrumors 68000

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    Apr 4, 2003
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    #15
    Thanks for the great advice, everyone. Here's what I decided to do: Buy a 500GB TC. Get a 1 GB RAID drive and attach it to TC's USB. Use the TCs drive as a NAS, and the RAID drive as the Time Machine volume. Should cost me about $500 or so, and it'll be "blessed" by Apple, have the RAID I want, some NAS, and Wifi.

    Oh, and then I'll use my old mushroom AEBS as a wireless bridge for my Tivo HD :)
     

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