I picked up one of new Extemes on Black Friday (Apple messed up the gift card, so I'm getting an actual credit!). Anyway, I've hooked up a a portable 1TB drive that I'm not currently using and will check it out as a second ™ for my main Mac (currently with 800GB of data).
I'll try to remember to report progress.
It's working fine for me with a several-years-old Iomega Prestige USB drive. It was recognized immediately by the base station without further configuration. Just had to select it in Time Machine preferences on the Mac side. I wasn't sure whether I would have to power it independently of the base station, but it's working fine using the bus power provided by the base station. Couldn't be simpler.
I'm trying to understand the original issue: officially supported or not, I've been backing up my Mountain Lion (and Lion, and Snow Leopard before that) MacBook Pro using timemachine to a USB HD connected to my dual-band Airport Station (4th gen) for a few years already, and I've implemented this setup at a number of clients. I've also attached a USB drive as secondary backup storage to earlier time capsules. Did I miss something?
It has been possible since day one, but has always officially unsupported, and Apple recommends against it, because many people have found it unreliable. That's what has changed with the new 802.11ac base station.
'officially unsupported' or not, it has always works flawlessly for me with a similar configuration since Leopard.
Don't really understand the issue...I currently use a 1T external drive hooked into my iMAC running Snow Lepoard -via Time Machine. Same thing with my MACBook...I never figured out how to hook up to my AirPort Extreme, so this is what I use.
I was told when I bought my iPad, I could use the AirPort Extreme to back to iCloud (don't know if that works, cuz I don't understand how that could be). I back up the iPad to the MacBook & back that up via Time Machine....
Connecting an external disk to a Mac to back up via Time Machine works fine, of course, but it may not be as convenient (particularly for a MacBook) as having the drive be connected to the AirPort Extreme Base Station. As noted in the article, Apple promised this feature in Leopard betas, and then claimed that it was unsupported until the release of the 802.11ac AirPort Extreme in June 2013.
My Retina MBPro can talk to the new Airport Base Station using 802.11ac -- very fast.
The Base Station can only talk to a TM drive using USB-2 -- NOT so fast.
What sort of real-world backup data transfer speeds do people see with such an arrangement?
I'm not sure they're all that different. Apple's implementation of 802.11ac is technically capable of 1.3 Gbps, and USB 2.0 does only 480 Mbps. But the real-world throughput of 802.11ac is likely 30-60 percent lower, which brings them much more into line.
That said, your point is well taken, and Apple would do well to move to USB 3.
Apple sells 2 iMacs, 2 Macbook Airs, and 2 Macbook Pros with 802.11ac -- all of which have USB-3. They also brought out this same year 2 Wifi devices (a Base Station and a Time Capsule) with 802.11ac, but these both have USB-2.
I backed up to a HDD connected to an AE a few years ago but learned it may see it and back up to it, but the restoring from it-the crucial part of being able to get your data, may not work. The guys at Mac Geek Gab warned me of this.
This is great news! Anyone who has tried to rebuild a disk from a Time Capsule knows how dang slow it is. Restoring via wifi is hopeless and restoring via the Ethernet port isn't much better. It appears that now the Time Machine backup disk can be easily disconnected from the AirPort Extreme and directly connected to the Mac target for a fast restore.
That's good to hear - I've been wondering how this would all work in the real world, given that 802.11ac and Gigabit Ethernet (if the Mac is directly connected to the AEBS) should be at least somewhat faster than USB 2.0. But as a previous commenter noted, newer Macs have USB 3.0, which maxes out at 5 Gbps. That might point to buying a USB 3.0-capable drive, seeding the initial backup to it, moving it to the AEBS for normal use, and bringing it back local if you need to do a full restore. I imagine there are devils in those details, but it's nice in theory.
I'm backing up to an Extreme connected USB drive using both Time Macine and CrashPlan. With CrashPlan I have to wake the hard drive up by selecting it through Finder. Time Macine seems to wake the hard drive up itself although not 100% of the time.
Ok, well big whoop. When will Apple have the common sense to make the Time Machine Backup bootable AND get all files backed up and not leave people wondering what happened to their Calendar or other "orphaned" essentials? Until that day (and likely longer), I'm all about Carbon Copy Cloner. It works flawlessly.
You can boot your Mac from the emergency partition and immediately restore from a Time Machine backup: http://support.apple.com/kb/PH14185.
TM backs up everything except cache files which will be recreated the next time they're needed, so don't know why you're spreading FUD.
It looks like the reference to Airport Extreme has been deleted from the "Mac Basics" support article. It now says you can use "...an external drive (sold separately) or AirPort Time Capsule." The Airport Extreme manual still says Time Machine is OK, but the change in the support article makes me wonder. I used Time Machine over my network to a hard drive on another Mac for years without issues, but within a week of moving the hard drive to an Airport Extreme I got the dreaded "Time Machine must create a new backup for you" message.
I'm still seeing the mention in the Mac Basics document - it's hidden under the Choosing a Backup Drive section. I really dislike how Apple's support documents hide information like this now - you have to Expand All to make sure you can read the entire thing.
"Time Machine can only back up to a external drive connected to an AirPort Extreme 802.11ac base station. Time Machine cannot back up data to external drives connected to other AirPort Extreme base station models."
Hmm, I see, it's definitely well buried on the page. I guess it's supposed to work, though I'm still trying to puzzle out why my backup scheme has gone completely to hell since I switched to using an Extreme for backups. I'm at my third "verifying backup" of the day on one Mac and the second "the identity of the backup disk has changed" today on another.
That's distressing - it might be worth calling Apple now that it's a supported configuration.