Setting up a Time Capsule

When I purchased a refurbished MacBook for my wife I also grabbed a refurbished 500GB Time Capsule from the Apple web site at the same time. At $249 it saved me $50 off the price of a new one and should provide a nice simple way to keep her MacBook backed up. Since I made the switch to Mac I’ve been raving about the simplicity of Time Machine and having a Time Capsule behind it sounded perfect.

Once again the device came in a non-descript cardboard box and included the Time Capsule, a package of instructions, a CD containing the AirPort Utility for configuring the Time Capsule and a power cord. I was disappointed to find that a standard ethernet patch cord was not included; fortunately I have a ton of them sitting around the house.

For those that haven’t seen one a Time Capsule is a very sleek looking little device that includes not only a 500GB drive for backups through Time Machine but also has a USB port for adding printers, hard drives or even a USB hub to attach several devices. In addition to that the Time Capsule is also a full AirPort Extreme Base Station with 802.11n capabilities. The back of the Time Capsule also has a WAN port to connect to your existing network or cable modem and 3 10/100/1000Base-T ports to serve as an ethernet hub.

Setting this up was pretty straightforward. I installed the AirPort Utility on my Mac Pro and then plugged an ethernet patch cord from the WAN port on the Time Capsule into one of the ports on my local router, then plugged the power cord into a power outlet to fire it up. The Time Capsule spun for a little while then finally settled in and had a blinking amber light on the front display.

I loaded up the AirPort Utility and it quickly saw the Time Capsule and allowed me to connect to it. The AirPort Utility has a wizard style interface that walks you through some basic questions on how you want the device configured. The first thing it did was tell me that a firmware revision was available and asked if I wanted to upgrade it. That took all of a few minutes to do:

With that out of the way I went about configuring it. For my purposes I am using it as another wireless access point to connect to my network, I set up WPA2 as the security model and made sure to create a closed network. This means that the SSID of the Time Capsule is not broadcast, giving an extra level of security. At some point I am going to really go through my entire network at home and make it more secure.

Starting Up Time Machine
I grabbed the new MacBook I am giving my wife this weekend for a birthday present and started the process of connecting it to the Time Capsule. Since I named my wife’s MacBook “Hope” (per Rasterman’s suggestion that I “hope” she likes it), I decided to name the Time Capsule “Faith” as in “I have faith that my files are being backed up”.

The MacBook immediately saw “Faith” and with a couple of clicks I had Time Machine pointing at it and beginning the process of backing it all up. Though this is a freshly minted machine I had already moved her iTunes collection over and reset all of her playlists, pushed in her existing files, etc. All told she had 34GB of data to back up. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it only took about 3.5 hours to complete the backup.

The amusing thing is that when Time Machine kicks in it mounts the Time Capsule drive and it appears on the MacBook’s desktop as “Backup of Hope”:

It sounds like some kind of campaign slogan to me. ‘Tis the season I guess. Once the backup completed the drive disappeared from the desktop. I checked it all out and sure enough, Hope’s files are backed up on Faith.

Part of the Backup Strategy
With four Macs actively in use in the house I have a backup plan for each. My Mac Pro has an extra 1TB drive in it that serves exclusively as a Time Machine volume. My MacBook Pro has a 1TB WD MyBook drive attached via USB that also uses Time Machine; I don’t take it with me when I travel but it is an option. Now my wife and daughter’s MacBooks will use the 500GB drive on the Time Capsule.

Basically every machine is backed up every hour that they are on, unless of course I get one of those stupid Time Machine errors (I really wish Apple would come up with a solution for that—it is very annoying). What’s your backup strategy?