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Time Capsule is a Wi-Fi router and a network storage device to be used with Mac OS 10.5 Leopard’s Time Machine.
In the overarching Apple mission to pamper us with ease-of-use, Time Capsule takes the onerous elements of data back-up out of our hands, and puts them in the care of a (much more capable) machine. Simply put, Time Capsule is Apple’s AirPort Extreme network router (4 out of 5 stars, May/07, p54) with a built-in hard drive. Designed to work with Mac OS 10.5 Leopard’s Time Machine backup feature, Time Capsule lets your Mac back up data to a hard drive on a network, instead of a hard drive connected to your Mac.
You have a choice between 500GB ($299) or 1TB ($499) of storage. When you connect to Time Capsule, either through Wi-Fi or over Ethernet, you set it as the backup drive in Time Machine. Supported Wi-Fi flavors include 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, and 802.11n draft 2.0, and, like the AirPort Extreme, Time Capsule works on either the 2.4GHz or 5GHz frequency band. When it’s time to perform a backup, Time Machine finds Time Capsule on the network and copies your data. When you first set up Time Machine with Time Capsule, Time Machine has to make a first copy of your data, which could take several hours. After that, Time Machine backs up only files with changes, so your network connection doesn’t get tied up.
Because Time Capsule resides on the network (it has a WAN port for your broadband connection), multiple Macs can use it as their backup drive. Time Capsule has the same network security features found in the AirPort Extreme: WPA, WPA2, WEP, MAC address filtering, and more.
Multiple users create a lot of files, and sooner or later you’ll run out of space. As luck would have it, Time Capsule has a USB port for adding external hard drives. For the cosmetically concerned, you can get hard drives that resemble the Mac mini (and thus Time Capsule too), such as the miniStack v2 (eshop.macsales.com) or MiniMax (www.iomega .com), but most USB external hard drives will connect to Time Capsule.
When Apple gave people a sneak peek of Time Machine, Apple said that there would be support for USB-attached hard drives on the AirPort Extreme. However, when Time Machine was released with Leopard, Time Machine didn’t work with an AirPort Extreme with a hard drive. Was there a problem with the AirPort Extreme and Time Machine that Apple couldn’t fix before Leopard’s release? It looks like it, but Apple’s not saying. With Time Capsule, the problem seems to be fixed. When asked if an update will be able for AirPort Extreme owners, an Apple representative said it was something the company is investigating.
Time Capsule is a device that should’ve made its debut alongside Leopard in October 2007. Better late than never, though. So while Time Capsule isn’t a particularly glamorous product—it’s a storage device and a network router, and hardware doesn’t get much more utilitarian than that—it does fill a need. History won’t punish Time Capsule, but it will give it very little press.
Time Capsule has three Ethernet ports, a port for your broadband Internet connection, and USB port for a printer or an additional hard drive.