Burton Kelso, Tech Expert
How to Keep Using Apple's Discontinued AirPort Time Capsule for Your Home or Small Office
Updated: Feb 10, 2021
Apple jumped on board with a setup years ago that I always loved. The Airport Capsule provided a robust router wifi system and gave folks like yourself a way to store and backup all of your precious files and photos. Apple got out of the Airport business which leaves many of you Apple users in a tight spot when it comes to switching to products that will provide wireless and backup your stuff. Lucky for you, it's my job to keeping up with what tech items you should be using at home and work and I've been checking out alternatives to Apple’s Time Capsule which will work for Macintosh and Windows users.
Apple hasn't sold AirPort Express and AirPort Extremes for a while, although they still provide security updates for them. The challenge is most wifi routers usually fail between 5-7 and router technology changes drastically in that time period as well. For example, we had a customer who was using a fiber provider. After some troubleshooting, we discovered the AirPort was the device slowing down Internet speeds. Several similar experiences we've had over the past year make think that if you still use an AirPort Time Capsule, it is time to think about replacing it so can have a device that will allow you to take advantage of your Internet provider's speeds and that you will have a consistent backup system in place.
If you still have an AirPort Time Capsule that you're using as a router, here are some good replacements. If you know some Windows users, these tips will work for them as well.
1. Switch to the Router from your Service Provider. All Internet providers give their customers a modem and a wireless router ... well, I should say rent their customers these pieces of equipment. It might be tempting to purchase your own to save on the monthly rental fee, but you don't want to. Why? When you rent or lease your equipment from your cable provider it's easier for them to troubleshoot and repair problems with their equipment. When you bring your own equipment, it makes the troubleshooting process harder. If you have problems with wifi reaching those dead zones in your home or office. Invest inTP Link Powerline adapters (www.tplink.com) or a Ubiquity's range extenders. (www.ubiquity.com)
2. Wireless External Hard Drive. If your Apple Port is failing, you can move to a standard wired or wireless network drive. Old school external hard drives needed to be connected with a USB cable to a desktop or laptop computer. If you own an AirPort Time Capsule, this is the setup you wanted to get away from. Wireless hard drives from companies like Western Digital (www.westerndigital.com) and Seagate (seagate.com) offer hard drives that allow you to save information from any of your devices. You can utilize backup software like Windows File Manager, Time Machine, or the software that comes with either drive to backup your items. One major limitation with external drives is they cannot be expanded. If you exceed their storage amount, you will need to buy a bigger drive. We recommend starting with at least 2 Terabytes in size.
3. A NAS Drive. Network-attached storage allows you to store large amounts of data. You can connect just about any device to a NAS and you can configure them so your information is accessible from anywhere. It's like having your own personal cloud service. We recommend Synology and Western Digital NAS systems. They should work for Windows and Mac, but we have found that Synology works a little better for Apple products. The other great thing about a NAS is you can expand your storage which means you don't have to worry about your collection of photos, video, music, documents. You can also wirelessly back up your gadgets without you having to think about it.
If you want to keep your AirPort Time Capsule as a backup device only, do the following:
Open AirPort Utility on your Mac (Finder > Applications > Utilities > AirPort Utility)
Click on the picture of the Time Capsule
Click Edit in the smaller window that appears
Click on the Network tab next to the Wireless tab
Make sure that the setting for Router Mode is set to Off (Bridge Mode)
This will turn off the routing function of the Time Capsule
Click Update at the lower right of the window and give the Time Capsule a minute to restart
If you're not experiencing any problems with your AirPort Time Capsule, keep chugging along until you start to see problems. If you are experiencing slow Internet, seeing a flashing amber light on the device, or are getting failure notifications, it's time to make the switch.
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