Apple firmware update enables wireless Time Machine backup via Airport Extreme Base Station

With today’s Time Machine and AirPort Updates v1.0, Apple Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard’s Time Machine now supports USB hard drives attached to Apple Airport Extreme Base Stations, MacDailyNews can confirm.

In other words, an Airport Extreme Base Station (AEBS) with an attached USB hard drive can now function with Time Machine and perform wireless backups just like Apple’s Time Capsule.

After applying the Time Machine and AirPort Updates v1.0 and restarting, users should launch Airport Utility (Applications>Utilities>Airport Utility). This will prompt the user to apply the 7.3.1 Firmware Update for their Airport Extreme Base Station.

After doing so, users with Airport Extreme Base Stations with attached USB hard drives will have Time Machine functionality (use System Preferences>Time Machine to set up your desired drive; you may have to Connect to the drive via the Finder in order to see it in TIme Machine Preferences).

At this time, it is unclear if Apple officially supports using a hard drive connected to the AEBS USB port for Time Machine (but their latest software sure seems to).

MacDailyNews Note: MacFixIt confirms here.


  1. Over in the other thread, rahrens says: “If you don’t see it in Time Machine, you’ll need to open the window for your HD, then click on the Airport disk icon in the shared section on the left sidebar. Then click on the icon to the right so it will mount on the desktop. Then time Machine prefs will pick it up.”

    That same process was true *before* this firmware update. Nothing has changed. What needs to change is the auto-mounting of external drives so Time Machine can use them. There should be no extra steps.

  2. Nothing has changed for me after this update that I notice.

    I was able to back up to an external drive previously by first manually mounting it in Finder. The external drive is *not* seen by Time Machine until I mount it, so that part hasn’t yet changed.

    What *may* have changed is the reliability of the process. Maybe before, something wasn’t working very well, whereas now it does.

    Are others getting a different behavior? Are their attached drives auto-mounting without doing anything?

  3. Thank you Lord Stevus! My faith is restored! I AM a believer again! Moreover, I won’t have to tell my sister I wasted her money when she bought her Extreme expecting this feature, only to have it withdrawn. (I still wish Apple would have at least released a statement as it would have settled a lot of discontent.)

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