back to article Apple unearths Time Capsule

Apple has begun shipping pre-ordered units of its wireless network-attached storage box, Time Capsule, this morning. The device was announced at Macworld last January, and is currently the only really practical way to use Mac OS X Leopard's backup program Time Machine without physically plugging a hard disk into the computer …


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  1. Andy

    "By our extremely rough calculations —

    — that's a $43 markup compared to an Airport Extreme, a 1TB drive, and a roll of duct tape."

    I would kill for American prices. Over here, it roughly corresponds to an Extreme plus a cheap 500GB external drive; or it did last month when I priced it up. And then I'd have two boxes, not one. The duct tape would have been coming out of my own pocket as well. :(

  2. Anonymous Coward

    If It Won't Use an External as a Backup, It's a Doorstop

    I use a Drobo.

    Screw "server grade."

    It's the chain mail one...

  3. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Pretty good value

    I'm guessing 'server grade' means a drive with an exception MTBF - we'll find out as soon as someone gets their hot little hands on one and cracks it open. If it is a good drive then Apple's pricing seems reasonable.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wot, no RAID?

    The key word in "contains a server grade disk" is "a". One disk. I don't care what grade it is, it's still liable to failure - which makes this thing better than no backup at all but still not up to par.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Server grade?

    On apple maybe. But in the real world, anyone here not using 15k SAS drives?

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Wired or wireless, it's still on site

    I wish I could direct TimeMachine to backup to web-hosted storage. I can see the advantage of TimeCapsule for users with multiple computers, but for just one computer, a wireless backup has the same problem that a wired one has - it's still on-site.

    I'll bet my left nut that Apple adds this as a feature to .Mac eventually.

    Flames, because they destroy backups on-site.

  7. Webster Phreaky
    Jobs Horns

    Better buy a REAL NAS to backup what you BU to this POS

    If this is like ANY other Mac gadget Apple has produced in the last two decades (like all the flaky PowerBooks, G3 and G4 PowerBooks, iBooks, MacIntel MacBooks and Pros, Airport Extreme or Express, etc etc. - you had BETTER also buy a REAL NAS to backup what you backup to this piece of shit from Apple.

    Ps - for the Apple Kool Aid Drinkers, you had better acknowledge the years of Flaky Apple products because there are thousands of web pages to document the proof. It's posted daily or in the archives of sites like macfixit. You can't run from the TRUTH.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Webster Phreaky, pur-lease give it a rest!

    That comment from Webster Phreaky was so transparently aching to kick off the old and very boring flame war over Macs vs PCs, such was its silliness and BIG need to EMPHASISE lots of things using CAPITALS.

    Clearly, there are thousands of webpages documenting proof of all manner of things going wrong with all manner of technological devices. However. It is the case that by definition of the fact that PCs running Windows are in the majority, there will be more sites devoted to the things that go wrong with PCs and Windows than any other OS or machine. And that's without entering into any debate on whether Windows is worse than Mac for crashes, unreliability, etc etc, blah blah bloomin' blah.

    Now, setting aside the small child's comment above for the moment, I would say this backup solution is pretty unimpressive because I back up my iMac to a plugged-in Firewire drive using Time Machine. It is, however, a pain to only be able to back up my MacBook Pro by having to plug it into an external drive to do so. This laptop problem with backups is not only confined to Mac hardware, of course, but all laptops.

    I can't see Apple adding backup in totality to .Mac - is Richard Drysdall above aware of the paltry amount of disk space you're allocated as standard with .Mac? Sure you can buy more but the terabytes most of us need would be far more expensive than just buying an external drive.

    USB and Firewire hard drives need to get cheaper still, being the only backup solution for most of us. To return to Webster Phreaky's style of posting, the TRUTH is Time Machine would have been GREAT if released FIVE YEARS AGO.

    Hmm. Nah. Caps still look naff.

    Apple missed the boat on this one.

  9. Stuart Van Onselen

    Good morning Webster

    's the weather good over there? It's a lovely sunny day here.

    It's good to see you're still in fine form. We should do lunch!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Backup on .Mac

    Hi Andy.

    I'm well aware of how little space .Mac *currently* allows, but I never said they weren't allowed to increase the space allocated. Furthermore, since much of the backup would be duplicated between one person and the next (system files and such being common, at least in similar versions of the OS), I'm sure each user wouldn't need the 'full' amount. A far bigger problem would be the interface for the 'real time' fly-through of file versions, which I don't think would survive the bandwidth constraints.

    And in any event, the amount of storage space available is an artificial limitation imposed to create a market. Transfer costs are more likely to be the kicker. I'm sure Apple could find a way to make it pay (or at least, break even). After all, they charge for .Mac - it's not like they give the space away for free, like many other online backup services.

    You may have TB of data, but you're not the vast majority at all - the vast majority of Apple's customers have the hard disc which came with their computer. That's still in the low hundreds of GB last time I looked. You're simply not the target market for such a feature - that's ok, but it doesn't mean other people can't aren't.

    Disclaimer: Not a kool-aid drinker.

  11. Paul van der Lingen
    Jobs Halo

    from a Kool Aid Drinker

    Actually, I backup the mac's in the house (3 of them - no problems, despite all the, er, apparently thousands of web pages telling me I should have (sorry about that Webster - perhaps I should start poking around with a screwdriver or something? Would that make you happy?)) to an external drive mounted on a mac mini and shared across both wired and wireless networking

    I've set up time machine on all of them, and it works just fine.

  12. jai

    wireless backup with TimeMachine

    if you don't want to replace your current wifi router and you already have a disk attached to it, you can use this:

    the functionality is there in OS X, it's just not enable by default

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo

    Kool Aid?

    I bought my first Mac back in 1991, and I've been using them ever since.

    But I've never heard of 'Kool Aid', let alone ever drunk any.

    What is it, pray tell? Something burger-munching morbidly obese Americans go for? (along with Creationism, gun worship, sub-prime mortgages and the laughing stock that is the Republican party).

  14. Ted Treen


    HeyGuys, lay off Webster.

    If it weren't for him, we would not be aware of just how sane & normal everyone else is.

  15. TimBiller

    @ andy - careful when mentioning Apple's US pricing

    You'll get reamed by lots of "smart" people who'll lecture you about VAT and import duty ad nauseum infinitum who clearly have nothing better to do with their online time ...


  16. Shakje

    @Ted Treen

    You unfortunately believed Jobs when he said buying a Mac makes you normal :(

    Sorry, couldn't resist.

  17. Matt

    for a segment this is an excellent idea....

    ok, im a Mac convert, but that aside, I think this an excellent product...

    Yes, all us techy types with home fibre channel sans and multiple gigabit connections to secure offsite storage, plus the knowlegde to support the VPN links between these sites, this is a waste of time... but...

    the the average end user, you know, the ones that are incapable of resisting the ugrge to open an email attatchment from an unknown source entitled 'run me i kill your pc.exe' (yes i know i have my OS's mixed up and the aaverage mac user, blah, blah, blah...) this is a nice simple way of backing up.

    idiot end user unboxes time capsule...

    plugs in

    runs airport manager

    runs time machine

    simple.. in less than 10 mouse clicks their data is backed up transparantly without setting ardous jobs and schedules, on a second device... no, it may not survive if the world implodes, but it offers a level of data resilience...

    you need to realise, this isnt an enterprise backup solution!!! just a compact, tidy unit for home users.... :)

    Sad face representing a Windows user trying to restore a document backed up using Microsoft Backup ;)

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: server grade disk

    If anything this indicates that they are less reliable than a 'standard' grade disk as server disks would normally be in a configuration with some form of redundancy and regular offsite backups on top. Seems like Apple fans are being won over by advertising speak again.

  19. Rob Uttley

    Matt gets it

    It's not designed for the sort of people that read and post here. How boring to see (once again) people jumping on the 'hey let's bash Apple' bandwagon - it's a bit like shooting fish in a barrel but don't let that stop you from feeling all superior.

    It's a consumer product, it's intended to give non-professional people a simple and cost-effective way to achieve seamless, continual background backups (via Time Machine). It just sits there and backs-up your data, over wi-fi or over wired ethernet (or both), from one or more Macs. That's a pretty noble thing to try and bring to the consumer market. Only time will tell as to whether or not it's actually reliable enough for this purpose, or whether it's genuinely an economical solution, but at least give Apple some kudos for trying to take a confusing, non-sexy but important area of (home) computing and trying to provide a simple, non-invasive solution for the non-techies.

    They put it in the same box as their home/soho router solution. If you're setting up a Mac-based home/soho system (and despite what the Reg might have you believe, people actually do), this is a pretty neat solution.

    Sure, your router and your backups are in the same box, but this is a step-up from having no backups whatsoever, or only backing up when people remember to backup, which we all know is usually the case with home/soho networks.

    Happy face because this is a positive idea - expect to see more of this kind of thing (probably cheaper, probably 'better') from other companies in the near future.

  20. Neil Hoskins

    Wot, no uPNP/DLNA?

    Well, that's pretty useless, then.

  21. Scott Mckenzie


    I've ordered one, mainly to replace an existing freebie router (i wanted/needed Gigabit ports for my Media streaming device) plus the benefit of 802.11n will be nice with my MBP and iMac in the house... i'll be able to back them both up too!

    However the main reason i wanted one is so i don't have to have a bloody noisy NAS in the lounge... i use this to stream music, video etc off and i've yet to find one that is quiet enough to not irritate me (MyBook World Edition sounds like Heathrow Airport!) having the drive built in will obviously resolve that, and being an Apple product i'm assuming that it will be formatted for a Mac so in the event of a failure i'll at least be able to mount it on a Mac and try and recover data, rather than having to jump into Linux etc at the moment....

    I may be no better off, sure i'm losing RAID but hey if my computer failed and the backup from Time Machine was dead too, then that's a real bugger, it's also somewhat unlikely....

  22. Anonymous Coward

    As a backup it is a mirror i.e. ~RAID1

    If the Time Capsule (TC) has a COPY of what is on your machine, then if the TC drive dies, you get another one and make another copy from your machine.

  23. SImon Hobson Silver badge

    So many people don't get it ...

    Thanks, it's nice to see a couple of people (Matt and Rob Uttley) do get this - it's a simple, easy to set up backup for people that normally would have no backup at all. Yep, it may be a shock to many of you, but the average home user does NOT have ANY backup at all, absolutely NOTHING.

    Like a few others on here, I'm not normal - I backup my network to a few grands worth of SLR tapes that I store off-site (I didn't buy them, I got them as part of a settlement from a past employer). I take a portable drive with me every week or two and backup my makes computer. But that is the exception and TimeMachine wouldn't be a sensible option for me, but for the majority of home users it's a 100% improvement on the backup that they don't have now !

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Acer Pot noodle-Webster

    Cut webster some slack, after all, the Apple camp is a happy, friendly and intelligent place and we wouldn't want an angry cactus like that among us. Would we?

    Let webster go and sit by an ugly non Apple machine and write some more Cr*p about something they know very little about. It makes Webster feel good... all grown up and clever! Webster feels powerful and popular.

    Webster doesn't sit around searching out every web page and forum which has the slightest hint of a mac problem. No not ole' Webster, Webster is out there, on the cutting edge, parties, people, power and sex!

    Webster isn't sat at home on some ten year old machine, phone never ringing, pot noodle for supper. Websters' not angry Webster just doesn't like Apple, so much so that Webster can even recite every Apple model for the last fifteen years, thats' how much Webster hates Apple.

    Acer pot noodle-Webster, "Hates so much, He/She knows so little about.'

  25. N1AK

    Good Device

    It's not aimed at me, or most of the readers here. Even if I owned a Mac theirs no way I'd go with the device due to over-pricing.

    But it sounds like a very good idea for someone with multiple Macs who wants to use their computers (not manage them) and doesn't know a techy willing to work it out for them.

    Sure it's over-priced and the claim of server grade is a joke, but it doesn't stop it being a perfectly capable home backup device.

  26. Richard Speight
    Jobs Halo

    I'll probably be getting one...

    As Matt says, this isn't enterprise grade.

    Also of interest is the fact that any NAS can be made wirelessly Time Machine compliant with a simple Terminal command (I forget what it is, but I'm sure it can be Googled). There is a bit of a risk -- Time Machine thinks that the data has successfully been written to disc when the router says it has received tha packet (but before any actual disc writing). Thus there is a possibility of some data not being written. Time Capsule gets around this with some magic jiggery-pokery.

    The other issue with using most consumer NAS is that they use Samba, which is just way to slow (maybe Vista users don't notice, what with the cripplingly slow network storage access you get -- DOCUMENTED PROOF ON MANY WEBSITES, WEBSTER YOU FRUITCAKE).

    I also want to replace the hopeless wireless router that Sky force on you (now that I've found a way of extracting the hard code -- and guessable -- username and password). I think Sky's idea of security is to rebrand a Netgear router that has such a poor range that only someone in the same room can attach to it. Hoorah for 802.11n!

  27. Jared Earle
    Jobs Halo


    "currently the only really practical way to use Mac OS X Leopard's backup program Time Machine"

    You mean apart from a shared drive on another Leopard machine? It won't backup to DAV or Samba shares, but to another Mac over afp? Sure, that'll work over wifi.

    Those of us with laptops have relegated our older macs to headless servers in our kitchen cupboards running screen sharing. Plugging stacks of HDDs into them and sharing them gives us our backups without Time Capsules.

  28. Ted Treen
    Paris Hilton


    Shakie, old lad:-

    Wasn't aware of Jobs saying that:- It's just The Phreakster's preaching (much like an ultra-fundamentalist Ayatollah), lack of reasoned argument and continued diatribe of undiluted venom makes me fear for the old loon's health, as he's bound to rupture something one of these days...

    He does serve a purpose, though - as without madness we would be unaware of normality - much as without darkness we would be unaware of light...

    Paris because she serves a purpose by making most other blondes seem positively intellectual...

  29. Anonymous Coward

    @As a backup it is a mirror i.e. ~RAID1

    Disclaimer: I'm a Mac user, plus Solaris, Linux, Window$ etc, but I try to avoid Kool Aid ;-)

    The point of Time Machine, apart from obviously being a backup, is that when you delete files on your Mac, you can retrieve them from your Time Machine backups.

    So, when the Time Capsule disk dies you can't replace the data on it with what's on your Mac's HD, because the Time Capsule disk also contained all the files you deleted from your Mac over the months... see what I mean? You might want some of them back one day when you ask yourself "where have those files gone???"

    Some more thoughts on Time Capsule:

    I like Apple for simplifying things. They are great at doing that! And this is a simple solution for the typical Mac user, not cheap though.

    Sometimes simple can be dangerous though -- consider what happens when the disk inside Time Capsule dies -- you lose your whole backup solution immediately, with err… no backup apart from your source drive perhaps, but see above, and then when you send the box back to Apple (shop), you lose your network too! Arrggghhh! ;-) Ooh, better remember to remove the pr0n too ;-) Oh hang on, the drive is dead though -- uh oh!

    They say the hard drive is "server grade" which probably means it's an Enterprise SATA drive -- i.e. designed to be able to spin 24 hours a day in an enterprise RAID / NAS box. But that doesn't cost a lot more anyway for enterprise SATA disks (I don't mean SAS disks!). Let's hope it has good ventilation fans too to keep the drive cool. Data doesn't last too long on hot drives.

    I suspect that Apple will only enable Time Machine to work with this box as a network drive until several months have passed and they have made their money, and people's voices have complained enough that they can't use their standard Samba/NFS share as a Time Machine target. We'll see!

    As I'm a geek, I've built my own fileserver/NAS + backup solution built upon Sun Solaris and ZFS (all free and open source), and shared it to my Mac via Samba (CIFS). NFS sharing works too, as does iSCSI. See more about the amazing ZFS file system here:



    So I expect my NAS box will remain unusable via Time Machine for quite a while. But then I have 2 other possibities until that time:

    1) Use 'rsync -a source dest' to create backups similar to what Time Machine does (TM relies on the use of 'hard links')

    -- see here:

    -- and here:

    The above done via a Samba/NFS-shared target (i.e. writing to the Sun Solaris-hosted ZFS pool via Samba/NFS sharing).

    2) See if I can use the Mac's ZFS implementation (from to do ZFS snapshots to a remote machine

    And one of these 2 solutions is probably just as good as Time Machine for keeping data backed up -- just without the pretty interface :)

    Oh, and I have redundancy built in, using single-bit parity RAID (RAIDZ1), plus a backup on another Solaris box done via an iSCSI link (iSCSI is free, out of the box in Sun Solaris too :).

    If it's of any interest, I will explain this setup at this weekend, if I get time, at least I'll kick off a series of HowTo articles.

    But I do take my hat off to Apple for making a simple solution that anyone can use, even if it does have its faults. It should work for most people, and that's already a great step forward for most people -- having automatic, regular backups.

    Now, hopefully Apple will open up Time Machine to working with non-Apple network drives/NAS solutions... play nicely, Apple ;-)

    OK then, I'll get me coat -- it's the one with Sun/ZFS written on it ;-)

  30. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Webster Phreaky

    Stop trolling and get a life.

    If you do your research you'll find that Apple laptops are generally more reliable than PC laptops.

    Many recent issues were down to batteries. Apple doesn't make the batteries, they are supplied by other manufacturers. Sony supplied batteries to many laptop makers only for them to be recalled. That's not the fault of the laptop brand if their suppliers have issues.

    If Apple laptops were so unreliable then they wouldn't be used by professional musicians on stage. Even Kraftwerk use them.

  31. Anonymous Coward

    Why I'd Like It to Work, and Don't Think It Will

    I use an AEBS with the "unsupported disks" hack to mount a Drobo disk over AFP. I back up regularly over 802.11n (Apple Version), and it has been working very well since December. There's no question that it works. I have done a couple of restores, and regularly browse to ensure backup integrity. I do offsite backups of important/secure stuff, but that's not a Time Machine regimen. It's much more a classic "dump n' burn" type of thing.

    If no one is familiar with a Drobo, it's a pretty nice piece of kit. It's a "slobo," so you want to use it over a network, but it is robust as hell. A LOT cheaper than RAID 5 (I set up about 1.7TB of redundant storage for about $700).

    What I get tired of are extremely long "Preparing" and "Finishing" sessions in my backups. The backups are not considered done unless all three phases have completed ("Preparing", "Backing Up", "Finishing"). In many cases, the "Preparing" phase is a lot longer than the "Backing Up" phase. I'm pretty sure that this is because Time Machine is sorting out the prior backups on the disk. It probably does this in a fairly primitive manner across the mounted file system.

    I am assuming that Time Capsule has a client/server architecture, where the TC unit does a lot of the "sorting out" in the unit itself, as opposed to making the computer do it. What concerns me is that it does this only for the internal disk, and external disks are treated in exactly the same manner as they are currently treated by the AEBS. I have asked several people at Apple (including so-called "geniuses") about this, and have received blank stares, so the prognosis isn't good.

    Unless Apple can convince me that the TC will offer a significant improvement over my current system, I see no reason to get one. As was noted above, this isn't aimed at people like me. It is aimed at home users who have never had a backup in the first place. I don't think they lose any sleep over the thought that I won't buy a TC for my setup.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Server Grade my arse

    The statements "$499 for a 1TB drive." and "server grade" (whatever that means) don't really sit very well together.

    I wouldn't be trusting a terra of data to a 250quid drive, when companies like EMC charge multiple thousands of pounds for a terrabyte.

    I suspect what they actually meant by "server grade" is "crappy generic comodity for home use only"

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And another thing...

    It's very good to get people backing up, but they MUST realise that if you leave your laptop and your shiny new wireless hard disk in the same building they are both going to get nicked or burned down. You need an offsite option.

    This is even more important now that lots of peoples memories (DV / Digital photos etc.) are on disk...

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    TM works with more than one disk

    Fwiw, TM can seamlessly back up to more than one disk, so if you are really worried about your lone back up drive dying on you, get more than one (btw, I'm not advocating that you get two or more Time Capsules, just two or more drives of which one can be a TC if you like).

    Not rocket science, people.

  35. Simon Greenwood


    I have a Maplin networked hard drive enclosure that Time Machine sees quite happily. It uses Ximeta's NDAS technology, which needs a third party driver, but once up, it mounts on my desktop and Time Machine actually offered to use it the first time I installed it.

    Oh, and @giles: I agree, Webster is a dribbling loon, but unless things have changed in the last couple of years, Kraftwerk use Sony Vaios on stage as they use a lot of (unfortunately) Windows based software.

    Fluorescent checked (and unfortunately lumpy) cycling outfit, ta

  36. Chad H.

    @ webster

    I'd be interested to know what equipment you use, I'm sure there are million pages on how bad that is.

  37. Sean Aaron

    No use for me...

    I already have an Airport Extreme, otherwise I might have considered it. Instead I'll be getting a Taurus 2-disk firewire/usb 2.0 RAID0/1 enclosure and a couple of 500GB or 1TB drives and setting it to mirror. Do an initial upload of media files via firewire and then set it up as an Airdisk attached to the Airport. That plus the odd DVD backup in a firesafe will put my mind at ease...

  38. Gareth Irwin
    Thumb Up

    Backing up over wifi

    Hi, I am not technologically minded it has to be said but I keep reading that TM won't back up over wifi.

    I must be real clever then because since day one of leopard I set up my macbook to backup to a harddrive attached to my mini upstairs and its worked flawlessly. I even had to use it the other day ;) No problem what so ever. Whats more I can back up with the macbook plugged into the network or wirelessly. On occasion a mount appears on the macbook and the back up starts then it goes when done.

    Seems simple enough.

  39. Frank Bough

    Richard Drysdall

    You're completely missing the point of this product. It is clearly designed to sit in a DOMESTIC study and back up the contents of a PERSONAL users MacBook or MacBookPro, whilst also providing HOME WiFi and limited wired routing. As such, it extremely attractive. Small, neat and (if my APE is anything to go by) offering superb WiFi performance.

    BTW, I assume that Apple has used a Seagate "ES" HDD, hence their 'server grade' tag.

  40. Anonymous Coward


    Its by Apple so it must be a rip off. You don't need to read Reg articles about Apple products any more. This has to be journalism at its easiest.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Giles Jones

    How did you even FIND a Kraftwerk concert, let alone spy what hardware they were using on-stage? :P

  42. Gleb

    Never owned a mac, but...

    The theorem that any backup is better than no-backup is only true, if you don't scale it. However, for the people with the photos and emails and idunnowhats that this gadget targets, this gives a different magnitude of the order of datasecurity, and would serve them well. I wish I had one of those, except maybe I'd think it's wasting space and use it for primary storage anyway.

    My backup file is 11mb, and I keep it on the internets.

  43. calagan

    Not a serious backup option, but good potential for media server

    As mentioned before, this product if far from perfect for backups, but if you need a small footprint device to store medias (divx, mp3s, ...) in your living room without the noise and bulkiness of most routers, this product fits the bill very well and AFAIK doesn't have any contender at all. Now the lack of uPnP is a big drawback, but one can hope that this might be added in the future through an Apple update or maybe something like FreeLink firmware...

  44. Nick

    Re: Sever grade disk [et al]

    The actual disk used is given elsewhere on El Reg and the "server grade" disk is a Hitachi Deskstar:

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    ZFS Home Fileserver / NAS

    As promised earlier, I've written up details on how to create your own fileserver / backup target machine based on Sun Solaris and using the ZFS filesystem.

    I will update it soon to show you how you can achieve Time Machine / Time Capsule functionality with this commodity hardware and open source software using rsync.

    See here:

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