There is nothing worse than losing an important file on your computer. Whether due to an unexpected virus, hard drive failure, power surge, or theft, the sinking feeling in your gut as you realize something that mattered to you, whether it was an archive of personal photographs or a project you’d spent long hours working on had vanished into thin air and was not coming back. Everyone always tells you to back up your data, but there’s no telling when disaster might strike.
Backing up large file libraries over and over for a work in progress can rapidly become a wearisome and time-consuming task, as well. Apple’s Time Capsule is one potential solution to this dilemma. Essentially, the Time Capsule is a wireless network device with an accompanying software program that automatically backs up and archives all your important data in the event of loss.
The Apple Time Capsule is low to the tabletop and unobtrusive in its design, and sits well alongside other Apple hardware on your desk. If you’re especially worried about losing files due to computer theft, you can even place it in another part of the room where it is less likely to be stolen in the event of a break-in.
The wireless connection is strong enough that it works just as well from across the room. Time Capsules cost $299 or $499 depending on whether you get the 2T or 3T version, and are compatible with any Mac running OSX Leopard or later. They feature four Ethernet ports (3 LAN, 1 WAN) and a USB 2.0 port. For users with an iCloud account, the data stored on the Time Capsule can be accessed remotely.
Setup is relatively painless; after you install the software and locate the Time Capsule on your wireless network, you will be up and running in just a few minutes. You don’t have to be a networking expert to load it; the setup utility guides you through the entire process – all you’ll need to have on hand is your network access password.
Once the install is complete, all you need to do is select the Time Machine in your control panel of desired backup devices and complete the initial backup procedure (see below for a word on this).
The Time Capsules available now are in their 4th generation, and the unit’s storage capacity has grown to reflect the needs of today’s computer users: up to 2T and 3T from the 500GB models of the first generation. The old versions used a Marvell WiFi Chip as the internal WiFi card, which had a reputation for being problematic. 4th generation versions come with the welcome addition of the more reliable and better performing Boadcom BCM4331 chip.
The read and write speeds of the hard drive have been doubled since the last generation, although it still writes much faster than it reads. This makes it better as a one-way backup archive or “final destination” point for your files and less efficient as a place to store and transfer them to other locations. Better still, the Time Capsule can be linked to every computer on your household network so you can safely back up multiple computers if necessary.
Although the Time Capsule works wonderfully once it’s up and running, the initial backup of the protected drive takes a substantial amount of time – usually overnight. On the plus side, once your files are initially backed up, only changed files are updated and this happens automatically in the background.
With the new and improved WiFi card, better value (more storage space for the same price), and the security it offers to anyone who wants to make absolutely sure their files are protected, the Time Capsule is a great buy for any Mac user.