Previous 1 2 Next 21 Replies Latest reply: Aug 24, 2009 2:14 AM by mattrixx
chartier Level 1 (15 points)
I need some concrete answers-preferably with a link to official documentation or from an official rep here in the forums-on what my options are when a Time Machine's hard drive dies. Yes: when, not if. Hard drives die, I don't care how "server grade" they are.

I've searched the forums, I've called Apple a couple of times, and I've asked a few store reps. No one can give me a real answer. This may be a good sign of the reliability of Time Capsule drives so far, but I want to know my options.

Is the drive user-replaceable? Will replacing it myself void my warranty? Will an Apple Store do it under warranty or for a nominal fee? I'm not dropping $500 every couple of years when a drive that will get as much action as the one inside a Time Capsule spins its last cycle.

Thanks in advance for any help. I really want a Time Capsule, but not finding any information on this important aspect of owning a hard drive is becoming frustrating.

MacBook unibody, Mac Pro, Mac OS X (10.5.8)
  • Bob Timmons Level 10 (95,310 points)
    Welcome to the discussions!

    Not sure what you mean by an "official rep" on the forums. We're all users, just like you. There is no indication that Apple even reads these boards, so the best you will do is gather some opinions from users based on their knowledge and experiences.

    The drive is user replaceable if you have patience and know how. If you are comfortable opening up your laptop, you will probably not have any problems. Removing the drive while the device is still in the warranty period will probably void the remaining warranty for the entire device unless an authorized Apple servicer handles everything.

    An Apple authorized service center can certainly replace the drive, but with the high cost of parts and labor, it's quite likely that this type of "service" will likely result in a cost that is higher than a new TC, especially with the price reductions that have been instituted on the older single band versions of the TC.

    If you elect to go the TC route, I would recommend that you still incorporate another back up drive to take advantage of the "Archive" function that the TC provides. It will be of little use if your TC drive fails unexpectedly and you are not able to retrieve your backups from the disk. Yes, there are recovery services that can sometimes help rescue files from the disk, but be prepared to pay a premium with no guarantees.

    Hopefully, some other users can offer additional input.
  • Tesserax Level 9 (50,020 points)
    In addition to Bob's comments, opening the TC will void your warranty as Apple does not consider the TC's internal drive as user serviceable. However, it can be done and the drive can be replaced with equivalent 3.5" SATA drives of greater capacity.

    To give you an idea on the internals of the TC, check out this AppleInsider link: Teardown: a look inside Apple's Time Capsule backup appliance
  • RegKnick Level 1 (0 points)
    Hey guys. I've just come home from a business trip only to find my TC flat out. No lights on at all. Tried plugging into a different power source multiple times and still no love. I've seen a couple threads about the power supply going dead and not having the ability to buy a replacement. I guess my question is... ***?

    If the power supply is dead on my TC then what about the harddrive? I've got 500gb worth of data on it and need access to it. Any thoughts and/or comments?
  • Tesserax Level 9 (50,020 points)
    If the power supply is dead on my TC then what about the harddrive? I've got 500gb worth of data on it and need access to it. Any thoughts and/or comments?

    Chances are good that the drive is still good. One option is to extract the drive and place it into a drive dock. From there you can mount the drive to your computer to access its contents. One example would be the Newer Technology USB 2.0 Universal Drive Adapter.
  • RegKnick Level 1 (0 points)
    Thanks! for the thoughts. I'm hoping it's the power supply. Seems kinda silly that it runs for 14 months and then goes belly up. Or did Apple design it this way intentionally?
  • Fdonatelli Level 1 (0 points)
    RegKnick. Have you had any luck with uncovering what happened to your Time Capsule?

    I've had the same problem happen yesterday. The Time Capsule lasted me 15 months and now the power supply doesn't seem to work. I took it into an Apple Store today and they said to buy a new Time Capsule as "it's not made to be replaced or fixed". I'm not sure I want to fork out so much money every 1 to 2 years.
  • chartier Level 1 (15 points)
    What do you guys mean when you say the power supply died? Does the Time Capsule have a power supply like you get with a MacBook, where it's a long chord with a brick, external to the device? Or is this a power supply built into the unit?

    Also, what about AppleCare? I've been told that if you own a Mac or buy your Time Capsule with a Mac, your AppleCare will cover the Capsule. Have any of you been able to call in an AppleCare claim to get it fixed?
  • RegKnick Level 1 (0 points)
    Sadly yes... I've done two things as it is clearly evident that Apple (and I am a huge fan) isn't or won't do anything about it.

    a) I bought a new Time Capsule today, (15 months use of the old one - and I seriously doubt this new one will hold out any longer).

    b) I took the Time Capsule apart, extracted the harddrive, (it is easy to do but not how I'd like to spend my night).

    c) I purchased a USB 2.0 to SATA Adapter with Power Supply, ($25 cheap).

    d) I have transferred all the data from the original TC harddrive to the new TC.

    It was a pretty easy process but just a bit of a bummer. I'll probably pick up a external case for the old harddrive as it appears to be in perfectly good working condition. It is possible the power supply could have been replaced but I didn't have the time to sort it out.

    I seriously think Apple needs to build a better cooling unit in these things as it seems to be that they are just burning up and out far before they should do.

    Still a fan inspite of the fun.
  • chartier Level 1 (15 points)
    I haven't seen any widespread reports that year-old Time Capsules are failing. There could be any number of factors at play here, including power flow problems in your home, bad air flow around your Time Capsule that isn't dispersing heat, or just plain bad luck. I've had some external drives die in 13 months, I've had others last at least a year or two past their warranty.

    I think the more important, fundamental problem here is that Time Capsules aren't serviceable. Apple's trying to bring its all-in-one model from the iMac and iPod to other devices with mixed results.
  • Tesserax Level 9 (50,020 points)
    What do you guys mean when you say the power supply died? Does the Time Capsule have a power supply like you get with a MacBook, where it's a long chord with a brick, external to the device? Or is this a power supply built into the unit?

    For the Time Capsule, the 30w power supply is built inside the unit itself.
  • carvermon Level 1 (15 points)
    Hi Bob -
    Could you please try to explain to me how to " take advantage of the Archive function that the TC provides" by using another drive?
    Thanks, Randy
  • Bob Timmons Level 10 (95,310 points)
    Hi Randy,

    The Archive function in AirPort Utility allows a user to make a copy of all of the contents on their Time Capsule disk. Normally, you would use the USB port on the back of the Time Capsule and connect another drive.

    Think of it as making a backup of your backup. The TC is great for making backups, but if the drive fails, it can be a real challenge to try to retrieve the files.

    If you keep everything on your computer and just use the TC to backup, a TC drive failure is not that serious because you have your files on your computer. True, you would lose the ability to go back in time to look at your computer as it was six months ago. But, if you've shifted a lot of movies and music onto the TC and removed them from your computer, then you have a problem if the TC disk fails.
  • carvermon Level 1 (15 points)
    Thanks so much for the reply. I just ran into the great "Mozy/TimeCapsule crash of '09" and got a second external drive in a panic. One more question if I may - is there any advantage to doing a second backup this way as opposed to backing up to the new drive directly from the computer? This is what I had planned to do, hopefully also using Time Machine. Uh oh, one more question - do you know if Time Machine can be configured for multiple drives?

    Thanks again!
  • Fdonatelli Level 1 (0 points)
    Thanks for the tip. I have contacted Apple and they will replace my Time Capsule as part of my Apple Care warrantee. My Time Capsule was 14 months old so out of its own 12 month warrantee. Even though I bought my Time Capsule 6 months after my MacBook it was covered under the 3 year Apple Care. They don't have to be bought at the same time (mine were even bought in different countries).
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