Apple AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule Questions & Answers

Apple-Airport-Time-CapsuleIf you have any questions I haven’t answered yet, feel free to ask in the comment – I’ll try to complete the list with an answer. These are the answers I couldn’t find on the internet while I was struggling with decision if and which one to buy.

First things first or what is what?

  • AirPort – Apple’s brand name for WiFi hardware.
  • AirPort Extreme – a wireless router.
  • AirPort Time Capsule – a wireless router (we can say AirPort Extreme) with a hard drive that can be used for Time Machine backups or file sharing across the LAN.
  • Time Machine – a part of Apple’s operating system OS X (since Leopard) that can backup computer’s hard drive on an external storage (USB, NAS and especially Time Capsule).

Questions & Answers

1. What are the alternatives to the Apple’s 802.11ac routers of AirPort Extreme or AirPort Time Capsule?

Performance comparison to the Belkin, Netgear & Linksys can be found on tekrevue.com.

I chose Apple AirPort Time Capsule because:

  • It had best 802.11ac performance in the above test.
  • I’m disappointed in my Linksys WAG320N: poor and unstable 5GHz WiFi performance, unstable port forwarding plus zero responsive support (only one security update after a few years).
  • I wanted to save Time Machine backup space on my Synology NAS (hundreds of gigabytes).
  • Sleek, modern design that fits my preference (can play as a part of the interior).

But… if you look for a NAS solution, AirPort Time Capsule isn’t that you are looking for. It’s meant for Time Machine backup with simple file sharing and lacks of many features that present decent NAS should have:

  • no failure protection (RAID technology),
  • no shared folders management (creation, quota, home folders etc.),
  • no any additional features like: media server, web server, mail server, cloud services or even more sophisticated features that for example Synology has (video, audio, AirPlay, digital TV streaming, video surveillance and so on) with access on mobile devices

… it’s just only, as the name suggests, a Time Capsule for Apple computers.

Any other inconvenience I’ve found is a lack of Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) protocol support. Although, Apple applied an alternative NAT-PMP, devices based only on UPnP will report failure to find UPnP-supported gateway. Time Capsule only supports the AFP and SMB/CIFS network disk protocols, but not NFS.

2. Can I put my own hard disk drive inside AirPort Extreme?

No, you can’t.

Although AirPort Extreme has an empty space for 3.5″ hard drive, it has no HDD SATA controller on board. Look at ifixit.com AirPort Extreme teardown vs AirPort Time Capsule teardown. Anyway, you can always connect your Time Machine or whatever hard drive to the USB port.

3. Can I replace/upgrade hard disk drive in AirPort Time Capsule?

I haven’t tried this but it looks like it is possible.

According ifixit.com this can be easily replaced with 4 TB 3.5″ HGST hard drive (HGST is a Western Digital company). You will lose your warranty while opening enclosure, of course. The built-in drive is Seagate Barracuda Green (eco and low operational temperature) with form factor of 3.5″. More info about replacement on ifixit.com in Detailed Removal 2TB HD Plus Install 4TB HD + Formating.

4. How much noise does AirPort Time Capsule produce?

I would say: none.

I needed it in my bedroom and I wouldn’t wanted any noisy equipment there. I was afraid that Time Capsule can be annoying because of its fan and hard drive but it ain’t nothing like that. Working hard drive can be heard only if you put your ear to the Time Capsule enclosure. Moreover, hard drive shuts down automatically after some quite short idle time (unfortunately it’s fixed and cannot be set by the user). I also haven’t heard working fan yet, so that’s why I say Time Capsule is noiseless.

5. How to create my own shared folder/volume/partition on AirPort Time Capsule?

You can’t by the time of the firmware 7.7.3.

Time Capsule offers only one shared folder which after enabling in AirPort Utility can serve as a regular file share network folder among Time Machine backup files (sparse bundles). Default share name is Data but it can be changed to the any of your favour by clicking on the name or while hard drive erasing operation.Time Capsule Data Share Name Change

More on Time Capsule

Can be found on pondini.org site.

 

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