capsule review

Time Capsule Wi-Fi base station review

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In testing, Time Capsule copied at a decent 100 Mbps, which means, say, 300GB of backup sparse-image archives would be duplicated in less than 7 hours. While copying over USB, Time Capsule locks out Time Machine backups and file-server use, warning you in AirPort Utility before it occurs. Progress is shown in AirPort Utility, and Time Capsule’s LED shows amber until the operation is complete. Its networking features continue to work, however.

Macworld’s buying advice

Time Capsule seems ideally suited for a home network that hasn’t yet upgraded to an 802.11n wireless network (and, thus, doesn’t yet have a new AirPort Extreme Base Station). Time Capsule is a big improvement for such networks, although the $299 to $499 price tag may be slightly too high for that kind of casual user.

For those who already have an 802.11n AirPort Extreme, attaching an external drive or connecting a drive to another computer on the same network are both reasonable alternatives to Time Capsule.

Small offices might find Time Capsule a reasonable option, especially the 1TB flavor paired with regular archiving of the internal drive to an external drive that’s taken off-site for safety. However, Time Machine’s failure to allow configuration of frequency or time of day to perform backups could easily overwhelm a network that’s full of 802.11g devices, or an office that handles many photos and lots of video. Apple needs to consider an Advanced button in Time Machine to accommodate network backups that should happen when networks aren’t busy; hourly is too often.

Based on the significant improvements added via firmware, AirPort driver, and Time Machine updates, Time Capsule clearly wasn’t ready to ship to customers when it went out the door in late February. However, those updates have ironed out many of Time Capsule’s initial glitches, leaving a solid backup device in its place.

[Glenn Fleishman wrote Take Control of Your 802.11n AirPort Extreme Network (Take Control Books, 2007), and writes daily about wireless networking at his site Wi-Fi Networking News.]

This article was updated at 3:35 p.m. PT to clarify a point made about keeping backups in the same place as the computers being backed up to a drive.

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