Apple: Time Machine via AirPort Disk unsupported

Apple Online Store“Apple confirmed for me last week that a feature for using hard drives attached via USB to an AirPort Extreme Base Station is an unsupported feature. The company declined to provide further information. This feature was available in Leopard betas, as has been widely reported, but was removed from the public Leopard feature list and from the shipping version. Apple had been working on providing me a definitive statement since my review of Time Capsule for Macworld was published on March 21,” Glenn Fleishman reports for TidBITS.

“What a lack of support means is that if you attempt to use an 802.11n AirPort Extreme Base Station for Time Machine backup, you won’t get any help from Apple’s technical support, something that readers have already told me. I’ve been getting reports that USB-attached drives work erratically with an AirPort Extreme,” Fleishman reports.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: If it’s not supported, then it shouldn’t be possible to select the drive in Time Machine Prefs. Apple may have made itself liable for any data loss users may incur.

If Time Capsule is supported then a USB drive attached via Airport Extreme Base Station should also be supported.


  1. Saved my (unsupported) *ss.. MacBook HD died last monday, ordered a new one, popped it in, retrieved the TM backup (with a wire, wireless would have teken forever, they’re right about that), working on the MacBook right now…

  2. USB is a slow thing even with cable.
    All this wireless features are very, very newcomers. People should better wait patiently before jumping parachutless into science fiction. It all comes out right… but leave a little time to time… even to Timemachine… ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

  3. As disappointing as this is, as I would do it too, the fact remains that using timemachine with a wireless connection would suck. Or USB. Firewire is def the answer and will hopefully open the eyes of some of the new mac users. USB is over rated and only good for a mouse. Anyone remember the firewire iPods…the ones you could use as a portable boot drive? yea….good times.

  4. Oh it does work — sort of. Time Machine does see and back up to a usb connected Airport disk, but only allows you to view the most recent back-upfor one back-up. There is no cascading series of back-ups you could “scroll” through to find a particular folder or file. After a few days of trying, I connected the back-up drive to my computer vis firewire. Everything works as advertised now.

  5. I am as big an Apple fan as there is, but I am surprised there hasn’t been a lawsuit out of this fiasco. I bought an airport extreme because Apple said I could use it with Time Machine. Then, at some point Apple changed their minds, and now Apple is refusing to make that a reality, even though they have released another product that does exactly what they advertised the AE as being able to do. There is no way that I can think of to spin this as a positive reflection on Apple. Now I have an expensive router that doesn’t do what I bought it for way back when it came out.

    Sorry Apple, I can’t side with you on this one.

  6. I have been using is successfully since the last patch came out. It did take a long time to do the first back up (a lot faster once I go the USB 1 hub out of the way – duh!). But, it now works perfectly – and I do see the “cascading series” of screens that JB doesn’t see.

  7. It seems pretty clear to me that Apple intends to provide this feature (Time Machine backups via Airport Extreme) and is working on it, but that there are definite technical issues that aren’t solved yet. At least, that’s my best understanding given all the facts and ancedotes I’ve read over the last several months on this debacle.

    Be that as it may, and regardless of Apple’s policy of silence, their public behavior on this is downright disappointing – especially since the recent release clearly enabled (or at least partially enabled) this same ability for many people? C’mon Apple, get over yourself, and give us some kind of clear answer here.

  8. Im normally not in favor of silly litigation against companies, but seriously Apple had been priming people for this during Leopard development, and Im sure many people (including myself) bought new Airports just to have this feature. Now, they are backing off. Bottom line is they should be held responsible. If they can make it work with Time Capsule, it certainly can work with third party drives.

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