AirDisk and Apple's Backup

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I recently had the pleasure of addressing Colorado Springs’ Silicon Mountain Macintosh User Group ( SMMUG ). At the conclusion of my troubleshooting presentation, one of the group’s members asked about the viability of using Apple’s Backup in conjunction with a USB drive attached to his new AirPort Extreme Base Station. I honestly replied that I’d never tried it but would and, when I did, report back via this very blog.

And here’s the answer: It works.

The details:

I plugged one of Western Digital’s 500GB My Book drives ( available at Costco for $180) into my AirPort Extreme Base Station (the new “N” variety). To verify that the disk was recognized by the Base Station I launched AirPort Utility, opened the configuration profile for the Base Station, clicked the Disks tab and, sure enough, there was the name of the My Book drive within the Disks pane.

Back in the Finder I chose Go -> Connect to Server, clicked the Browse button in the resulting Connect to Server window, found the name of my Base Station, selected it, clicked Connect, selected the drive in the window that appeared, clicked OK, and entered my AirPort password to mount the drive.

It was then simply a matter of launching Backup and choosing that networked drive as the destination for my backup plan.

A few observations:

Backing up this way is anything but speedy. If you’re backing up just one computer, it makes a lot more sense to connect the backup drive directly to that computer.

As far as I can tell (and I’d love to hear otherwise), Backup can’t mount that drive. You need to be sure that it’s mounted before you begin the backup.

The obvious advantage to this scheme is that you can backup several Macs to this single drive, as it’s available to any of the Macs you have on your network.

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