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KAdamsInCo Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

Just bought an Airport Extreme Wireless dual-band N router (January 2012).  It works very well and having the separate 2.5 and 5 GHz bands is a fantastic feature.  Setup was really easy and it essentially worked 'out of the box'.  The one issue I had is attaching a USB Western Digital 1 TB HDD to share on the network and use for Time Machine backups from multiple MacBook Pro laptops.

 

The drive would appear in the Aiport Utility's "Share Hard Drive" tab, but it was listed as zero bytes and wasn't available to actually share out over the network.  I formatted it as a single volume to make sure there wasn't an issue with the drive itself (although it should support multiple partitions on a drive), and it mounted to my Mac just fine, but it still would not work with the Airport Extreme.

 

After reading several posts on these Apple forums I picked up the fact that the only way most people get their hard drives to work is by purchasing a powered USB hub and connecting that between the Extreme and the hard drive.  Some hard drives do appear to work plugged directly into the Airport Extreme, but that seems to be more of the exception than the rule. 

 

The reason given is that the USB port on the Airport Extreme was originally designed for printers and is basically underpowered for proper HDD connections. Adding a powered USB hub not only allows USB hard drives to work, but you can connect multiple USB devices (hard drives and printers) to share over the Airport Extreme through the powered hub, so you do get that added feature.

 

So if you have plans to upgrade to the incredibly fast and efficient Airport Extreme and plan to do your Time Machine Backups wirelessly (which works very well), add a powered USB hub to your purchase to avoid some frustration.  I picked up a four-port powered USB hub at Staples for $30.

 

It's a great purchase otherwise.  Four out of five stars in my review.


Airport Extreme, iOS 5.0.1
  • Bob Timmons Level 10 Level 10 (89,720 points)

    So if you have plans to upgrade to the incredibly fast and efficient Airport Extreme and plan to do your Time Machine Backups wirelessly (which works very well), add a powered USB hub to your purchase to avoid some frustration

    Time Machine backups to a drive at the USB port of the AirPort Extreme are not officially supported by Apple due to corruption issues.

     

    If it works for you, great. It does seem to work for some users.

     

    But the corruption issues tend to appear after a few weeks to a few months of backups, so you won't really know if this is a reliable method of backing up for several more months.

     

    Might be a good idea to keep a close eye on things and think about a secondary backup plan for your Macs in case the primary plan does not prove to be reliable.

  • KAdamsInCo Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    TS Backups are supported on an Airport Extreme:

     

    http://www.macworld.com/article/132613/2008/03/airporttime.html

  • Bob Timmons Level 10 Level 10 (89,720 points)

    Backups are NOT supported by Apple. Please read your other post for details.

  • Csound1 Level 8 Level 8 (42,335 points)

    KAdamsInCo wrote:

     

    TS Backups are supported on an Airport Extreme:

     

    http://www.macworld.com/article/132613/2008/03/airporttime.html

    This is not supported and is not reliable, please stop posting this information.

  • KAdamsInCo Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    For anyone else who reads this post, the respondents are correct.  I cannot find anything directly from Apple that states explicity the support for Time Machine backups to a USB drive on a second generation Apple Airport Extreme.  I would love to see their detailed case studies and latest tests that demonstrate the backup corruption isues, and more recent tests conducted with the latest Airport Extreme, running the latest firmware with Lion 10.7.2.

     

    Having said that, each person who is interested in this as a backup solution should consider more than one source before making a final decision:

     

    http://gizmodo.com/369973/apple-time-machine-now-works-with-airport-disk

    http://stephanfassmann.blogspot.com/2008/03/how-to-setup-time-machine-on-airport .html

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=881757

    http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9070282/Time_Machine_now_works_with_AirPo rt_Extreme_drives_say_users

    http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2008/03/finally-airport-extreme-usb-disk-time- machine-backup.ars

    http://news.softpedia.com/news/Time-Machine-Update-Back-Up-on-AirPort-Extreme-Ad ded-81256.shtml

     

    The Apple Support articles referenced that explicity state TS does not work with Airport Extreme mounted USB drives are for older OS X 10.5 and 10.6.  I cannot find anything for 10.7 that states the same thing:

     

    Older Mac OS X 10.5 and 10.6:

    http://support.apple.com/kb/HT2038

    http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?path=Mac/10.6/en/15139.html

    http://Pondini.org/TM/Airport.html

     

    The other thing you can do is on the Time Machine menu, hold down the "Option" key and use the 'verify backups' option to help ensure that your TS backups are valid.

     

    Hopefully Apple will come out with an official statement soon that speaks directly to the 2nd generation Airport Extreme on the latest firmware running TS backups from OS X Lion 10.7.

     

    My statement about the need for a powered USB hub to have much better success with USB attached hard drives still stands.

  • Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,720 points)

    KAdamsInCo wrote:

    . . .

    I would love to see their detailed case studies and latest tests that demonstrate the backup corruption isues, and more recent tests conducted with the latest Airport Extreme, running the latest firmware with Lion 10.7.2.

    You're kidding, right?  You really think any company, much less the famously-secretive Apple, would release anything like that?

     

    I cannot find anything for 10.7 that states the same thing:

    They haven't posted a tech article for Lion, but it's in the Help, with the same title and wording as the Snow Leopard Help and tech article:

     

    Screen Shot 2012-01-29 at 5.38.02PM.png

     

    By the way, the 2008 article you posted earlier was not an Apple statement; it was the folks at MacWorld finding that it was possible to select such a drive for backups, not whether it worked reliably, or was supported by Apple.  That appears to have been done to enable backups to NAS drives that met Apple's criteria.

     

    Yes, it does seem to work well for a few folks, intermittently for others, not at all for yet others.   Not what I'd call reliable.  As the others have posted, the usual failure is, after some days, weeks, or even months, the backups turn up corrupted, with no warning, and often beyond repair.

     

    A little history: it was planned to work.  Time Machine was released with Leopard, and some of the pre-release materials said it would work, and it was beta-tested, with mixed results.  But before the actual release, all that disappeared.  Speculation continues, but 4-plus years later, there's no change.

     

    Some techies who're familiar with the innards say the hardware buffer isn't large enough, and it can't do as much verification as a Time Capsule.  So if there are network or power problems, corruption is much more likely.

     

    BOTTOM LINE:  Unless you're making regular secondary backups, do not trust your backups to an unreliable, unsupported setup.

  • Hanz Blatt Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Hi,

     

    I agree, after mutliple iterations with different techniques, each path to initial success with TM backups over the Airport Extreme eventually get corrupted.

     

    Ok...so I can't use time machine. Is there other software available to back up my mac over the wifi to an external drive on my airport express that will work?

     

    Thanks,

    Hanz

  • Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,720 points)

    Hanz Blatt wrote:

     

    Hi,

     

    I agree, after mutliple iterations with different techniques, each path to initial success with TM backups over the Airport Extreme eventually get corrupted.

    Yup, that's what most folks find. 

     

    Ok...so I can't use time machine. Is there other software available to back up my mac over the wifi to an external drive on my airport express that will work?

    CarbonCopyCloner and ChronoSync will work.  How reliably is unclear.  I've not seen any posts here either way.  If you have problems using Time Machine in that setup, there may be network or power problems that would affect them, too. 

     

    (I do use CCC, but only to local drives, where it's quite reliable.)

  • KAdamsInCo Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I know this doesn't change the consensus view that TS backups using an Airport Extreme are unreliable, but was curious if you have your USB Drive connected directly to the Airport Extreme, or via a powered USB hub?

     

    Just doing some research on the topic....

     

    Thanks.

  • Hanz Blatt Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Nope, just a USB-powered drive. never tried powered. I wondered about the power issue. But my errors happen once the external disk fills up (its only 250Gb). Unfortunately, no matter the method, TM seems to be unable to re-write old Time Machine Bundles over the Airport Extreme.

     

    I'm going to try some different software for a while.

  • Hanz Blatt Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    thanks! i'll take a look

  • belovedRa Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Not sure if KAdams is still doing research on this, but I seem to be the exception to the rule.   I have (mostly) successfully been using Time Machine with my Airport Extreme 2nd gen for 2 years now.

     

    My setup is as follows:  Airport Extreme in bridge mode connected to modem, with an external hard drive connected to the AE; this external hard drive is powered and has a built-in USB hub with 2 other drives connected, one of which is my dedicated 1TB Time Machine backup drive (previously I had a 500GB drive in this same configuration).   All drives are properly formatted in HFS+ Extended (Journalled) format, with one (NOT the backup drive), split into 2 partitions.  I took great care to pick disk caddies (the external disk enclosures) that specifically said they were compatible with Mac OS X.  I've had this system in place with OS X 10.4 Tiger, 10.5 Leopard, and now 10.6 Snow Leopard.

     

    I have never had any major issues with the backup stored on my backup drive.  I have restored individual files and folders many times before, and also performed a whole system restore a couple of times (although I connected the drive directly to the computer on those occasions as this takes much less time).  Time Machine has always quite happilly backed up to it on schedule.   I have also verified the backup from the TM dropdown menu (holding the Option key down as mentioned) and everything checks out OK.

     

    The one annoying issue I have is that I don't seem to be able to use the Time Machine interface successfully.   When I select "Enter Time Machine" from the menu, it brings up the usual "flying through space" view with the current application (e.g. Finder, Mail, etc.) visible, but the views stacked up behind it from the previous backups don't display (just looks like a stack of blank cards disappearing off into the horizon).   I have a suspicion this may be a restriction due to the USB connection, and probably if I had a proper Time Capsule this would work fine.

     

    However, when I need to restore, I simply mount the TM drive (the quickest way is to select "Enter Time Machine", then click Cancel to exit it, and quickly open the backup volume from the desktop that TM has just mounted.   Once it opens in Finder, I simply navigate to the files or folder I wish to restore and drag it to the appropriate location on my local drive.   Job done.

     

    So while this may be an unsuported setup, and many people might have had bad results with it, I haven't had too much to complain about.

     

    I hope this helps.

  • ellenbogen Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Can anyone (KAdams with original recommendation or others) tell me WHICH powered 4-port USB hubs will work with Lion + Airport Extreme set-ups described above? (I saw discussion that certain Belkin is faulty - I am looking for brand name).

     

    My printers/scanners (Epson) are not working through my old D-Link DubH4 USB2 hub - Epson tells me they need to be connected directly to the iMac to work, however, iMac does not have enough USB ports.

     

    Should I try to connect the D-Link to the AirportExtreme USB port? Is there another brand that is fool-proof to power devices through the AE?

    Thanks.

     

    p.s. meant to ask - do I need a "plus" or  "high-speed" hub?

  • Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,720 points)

    ellenbogen wrote:

    . . .

    Epson tells me they need to be connected directly to the iMac to work

    That doesn't sound like a power problem, but a compatibility problem with the Airport.  Most (or all?) scanners won't work on an Airport Extreme (and most/all printer/scanners will only print).

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