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Answers to Time Capsule reader questions

Time Capsule with AirTunes, Xbox, Linux

Paul A. in New Zealand asks: "If you use an Airport Express for digital audio out to your stereo, how do you set up Time Machine to be compatible with it?  It can't replace that function can it?"

Time Capsule doesn't have audio outputs for AirTunes, but can be used on the same network with AirPort Express or Apple TV, both of which can act as speaker sources for streamed audio. Time Capsule (or an AirPort Extreme) would merely relay the wirelessly streamed audio to those other devices.

Steven F. asks: "Try and see if you can get a Xbox 360 to connect wirelessly using the Time Capsule as the wireless router.  I have not been able to do this... And it seems many others havent as well."

You might try putting the Time Capsule into the slower b/g only mode, as the Xbox 360's wireless option only supports 802.11g.

Martijn B. asks: "Accessing Time Capsule's hard drive as a Samba share from a non-Apple computer. I tried this with Airport Extreme, from a Linux client, but the connection gets dropped after a while. (I use this Linux device, a Freecom FSG, as my main storage, which I want to back up)."

We can do more testing of Samba (Windows File Sharing protocol). There are also reports of problems with users on Macs connecting reliably. Ideally, you should report any problems you have with as much information as possible so that Apple is aware of the problem and can resolve it.

Network Sharing

Finn in the UK asks: "Can it be used as a 'network storage' drive instead of a backup drive in a mixed PC and Mac environment. I would like to get one Time Machine to store all my Word, Excel, JPEG files, etc and have them available to both Win XP on a Dell, on an iMac in OSX, and on an iMac running XP under boot camp or Fusion. Possible? Can the different OS systems read/write to the file system?"
Yes on all counts.

"I’d then like another Time Capsule so that the first TC can backup to the second TC. I want to put the first TC in my study and the second in my detached garage so I have a remote backup. Possible?"
There is no provision to automatically mirror or copy files between units. This would require using a host computer to attach to one unit as a backup volume, and then back up its files to the other unit.

Backup Impact on Network

Josh B. asks: "I have an old iBook G4 that only supports .11g networking, so I'd like to know how long the initial backup takes (let's assume 40GB of data on the laptop HD for a good benchmark) and how long the incremental backups take. I'm also interested in how the wireless backups affect wireless network speeds for internet browsing, etc. Finally, I'd be interested to know if there's a noticeable difference when backing up and/or browsing during a backup whether you're using .11g or .11n networking. I'm considering an upgrade to a MBP in the near future, and would like to know if the .11n makes a big difference as far as Time Capsule is concerned. If you could find a way to include some or all of this info in your in-depth review I would sure appreciate it."

The previous 802.11g is significantly slower than 802.11n for local file copy operations. Browsing the web does not tax wireless networking, as your Internet connection is likely a fraction of the bandwidth of 802.11g. However, copying large amounts of files will certainly have an impact on other network activities. We will try to provide a more definite answer in our benchmarks.

Power Consumption

Nick L. asks: "Please could you take a detailed look at power consumption, and note whether or not the unit has a standby function? I note that there's a hard drive and a reasonably large fan, and I'd be hesitant to leave the unit on 24/7 unless both these power down automatically."

Simone R. asks: "One thing that I find disappointing of my AirPort Extreme is that it never puts to sleep the attached USB drive (well, at least the one I connected). I would like to know if Time Capsule puts the internal hard drive to sleep when not in use."

Neither the Time Capsule nor the AirPort Extreme power down drives, but the unit has a 30 watt power supply; it is not a large consumer of power. Server applications don't typically power down drives because doing so would cause a major stall in performance every time you used the drive, and would interrupt network operations.

Time Capsule as a Media Library Server

Andrew A. asks: "Apple TV / iTunes library server? Will it operate with more ease than the current airport disk option?"

Time Capsule operates nearly identically to AirPort Extreme's disk sharing.

Paul K. asks: "A common question no-doubt: Is it possible to use the Time Capsule internal drive or attached USB drives to store and share an iTunes library between multiple macs and Airport Expresses via AirTunes and/or iTunes sharing? The same question applies to iPhoto libraries."

Sharing an iTunes or iPhoto library between systems is possible, but multiple machines can't use the same library at once; one machine has to manage the database at a time. AirTunes on the Airport Express (and Apple TV) only act as relays for streamed media from iTunes.

David W. of Boston asks: "Do you know whether the Airport Express is going to be upgraded to ‘n’ for use with Time Machine; the Express is the only device (that I know of) that has audio-in, necessary for iTunes broadcast setup over wireless — I use that now with a b/g network (on an Extreme set to b/g), but I’d like to switch to the speed of ‘n’ for wireless backup, if I can keep the wireless iTunes."

It makes sense that AirPort Express would eventually migrate to using 802.11n as prices go down, but until that happens, Apple TV can serve as an AirTunes relay, and it supports 802.11n networking.

Terence J. of France asks: "Can I transfer all my movies/music to Time Capsule to free up space on my Mac and still have access to them wirelessly from the Mac or via an Apple TV connected directly to Time Capsule? - Basically can a Time Capsule/Apple TV combo act as a media Hub/server? Will the wireless transfer speeds be a problem?

You can transfer your iTunes library to a network volume, but Time Capsule does not act as a copy of iTunes itself, nor can the Apple TV stream from it directly. It can stream from your Mac or PC running iTunes with its media library located on a network drive.

Mixed Wireless Network Performance

William T. asks: "I believe Time Capsule, as a "dual-band" router should support simultaneous 802.11n and 802.11g networks. Can you please compare network performance with Time Capsule handling only an N, versus N and G networks simultaneously?"

Time Capsule only hosts one wireless network, even when supporting both 802.11n and 802.11b/g clients. The use of g clients on an n network does have an impact on the overall speed of other n clients, but only when the g clients are actually sending data. Slower clients can be attached to a slower base station on the same network to prevent this slowdown, allowing the n network to operate at full potential.

Shared Disk Reliability Compared to AirPort Extreme

Steve L. writes: "I'm one of those who expected to use my Airport Extreme + attached USB disc for Time Machine backups. I have had success doing just that by:

defaults write TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1

and then assigning the USB disc to Time Machine. Of course, a few weeks later I managed by some unknown means to trash the image, and even Disk Utility / Repair Disk failed to recover it. (Aside, I should have tried Disk Warrior, which I've found can often recover a volume that DU cannot.)

Attached is an image of the version numbers of Airport Utility and Airport Disk Utility here - I'm curious how they compare with what you have, in particular Time Capsule's firmware version. II am running an up-2-date 10.5.2."

Time Capsule ships with firmware version 7.3, compared to 7.2.1 for the AirPort Extreme. It also ships with AirPort Utility 5.3 (build 530.22) compared to 5.2.2 (522.3). Airport Disk Utility is the same version 1.2.1 (121.4).