AirPort Disk - Remote Access (4 Methods)

Last modified: Jan 10, 2019 12:43 PM
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AirPort Disk - Remote Access (4 Methods)


NOTE: For the purpose of clarification, an AirPort Disk can either be an internal HDD in a Time Capsule (TC) or an external SSD/HDD attached to the USB port of either a TC or an AirPort Extreme base station (AEBS).


There are at least four methods to access a shared AirPort Disk over the Internet from a remote Mac or iOS device. The methods presented are not necessarily in any particular order.


Prerequisite:

Using Finder, verify that you can access the AirPort Disk from the local network.


Method #1: Using Back to My Mac (BtMM)

Prerequisites:

  • An active iCloud Account
  • An AEBS or TC running 7.6.1+ firmware or a third-party router/gateway device. Both must have a publicly reachable IP address, a firewall that allows remote connections, and support either the UPnP or NAT-PMP IP protocols.
  • AirPort Utility 6.3+
  • Mac running OS X Lion 10.7.5 - macOS High Sierra 10.13.6

NOTE: Apple has discontinued support for BtMM with the release of macOS Mojave.


Setup:

Method #2: Using a Global Domain Name

Prerequisites:

  • A DDNS Account
  • A Dynamic Global Host Name

NOTE: The DDNS-provider DynDNS, used in the setup example below, no longer supports AirPort base stations running firmware 7.6.1+ or AirPort Utility 6.1+. If you use DynDNS, you still will have two choices: 1) Use a DynDNS client on a computer running on your local network to provide the updates, or 2) Replace the AirPort base station with another manufacturer's product that has native DDNS support. Another option would be to use a different DDNS service provider, like Dynu. Regardless of the provider, the setup instructions should be the same.


Setup:

  1. Acquire a DDNS account and dynamic global host name. One DDNS-provider is DynDNS and will be assumed for the following steps.
  2. Run the AirPort Utility
    1. Select the base station > Edit > Internet tab > Internet Options...
      1. Use dynamic global hostname (checked)
      2. Hostname: dyndns.com
      3. User: <enter your DynDNS user account name>
      4. Password: <enter your DynDNS user account password>
    2. Click Save.
    3. Select the base station > Edit> Disks tab > Check both "Enable file sharing" & "Share disks over WAN" options are enabled.

To access the AirPort Disk:

  1. macOS:
    1. From the Finder > Go > Connect to Server
    2. Enter the DynDNS-provided Domain Name of the base station, followed by a colon and the Public port number that you chose from the setup steps above. For example: afp://www.mydyndnsdomain.com:8888
    3. Click Connect
    4. You should be prompted for your user name and password. The user name can be anything you like; the password should be the disk password for your base station.
    5. Click Connect
  2. iOS: Access will require a third-party app, like FileBrowser.

Method #3: Using Port Mapping

Prerequisites:

  • If the 802.11n or 802.11ac AEBS or TC is connected directly to the broadband Internet modem or combination modem/router or gateway device, verify that the device is in bridge mode, i.e., if the device provides NAT & DHCP services, disable them.
  • If the AEBS or TC is downstream of another router or gateway device, configure that device for port mapping/forwarding to the AEBS or TC. (Note: AFP requires that TCP port 548 be mapped.) Also, configure the AEBS or TC to have a static Private IP address so that it will always be found at the same address.
  • Use CheckIP (or equivalent) to determine your router's current Public (WAN-side) IP address.

WARNING: Accessing shares over the Internet using either AFP or SMB outside of a VPN tunnel would be considered unsecured and is NOT recommended!


Setup:

  1. Start the AirPort Utility > Select the AEBS or TC, and then, select Edit.
  2. Disks tab: Verify "Enable file sharing" & "Share disks over WAN" are checked.
  3. Network tab:
    1. Verify Router Mode = DHCP and NAT
    2. Port Settings:
      1. Click the plus sign below the Port Settings window to add a new port mapping.
      2. For Description, select the "Personal File Sharing" option.
      3. In the Public TCP Ports box, enter a 4-digit port number (e.g., 8888) that you chose.
      4. In the Private IP Address box, enter the internal IP address of your base station.
      5. The Private TCP Ports box should already be populated with 548.
  4. Click Save
  5. Click on Update



To access the AirPort Disk:

  1. macOS:
    1. From the Finder > Go > Connect to Server
    2. Enter the DynDNS-provided Domain Name or Public (WAN-side) IP address of the base station, followed by a colon and the Public port number that you chose from the setup steps above. For example: afp://www.mydyndnsdomain.com:8888 or afp://123.456.789.123:8888
    3. Click Connect
    4. You should be prompted for your user name and password. The user name can be anything you like; the password should be the disk password for your base station.
    5. Click Connect
  2. iOS: Access will require a third-party app, like FileBrowser.

Method #4: VPN Server

Prerequisites:

  • An Internet Router with built-in VPN server, OR a dedicated VPN appliance located on the AirPort Disk’s host network.
  • The appropriate (IPSec, OpenVPN, etc.) VPN client running on a Mac, PC, or iOS device to establish a VPN tunnel to either the VPN server or appliance.


Additional References:


To access the AirPort Disk:

  1. Using the macOS Built-in or a third-party VPN client, establish a VPN tunnel to the VPN server or appliance. Refer to either the references above or the third-party client instructions for how to do so.
  2. Once connected through a VPN tunnel, use Finder to locate the AirPort Disk under either Locations (macOS Mojave) or Shared (pre-macOS Mojave). Note: For an iOS device, use FileBrowser with ZeroTier VPN.
  3. You may be prompted for your user name and password. The user name can be anything you like; the password should be the disk password for your base station.

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