I ran out and bought a 1TB Apple Time Capsule, breaking a self-imposed rule: Never buy release 1.0 of anything from Apple. Now I’m being punished.
The Good · I thought that the Time Capsule software was the single best thing about the “Leopard” 10.5 release of OS X; for the first time in many years, changing the landscape I wrote up in Protecting Your Data. I used it and restored a couple of things and it Just Worked. Good on ya, Apple.
So when Time Capsule came along, I thought it was massive extra goodness, the kind of thing I wish I’d been smart enough to think of. This one box supplies your WiFi and silently, unobtrusively, takes care of your Time Machine needs. Easy zero-intervention data safety; what’s not to like?
(And indeed, I have to say the Time Capsule is a great WiFi station. 802.11n, WPA not WEP, strong signal, good reach, Just Works.)
The Bad and the Ugly · It’s fragile and unreliable and noisy and scary:
That sucker runs hot and buzzes; hearing it and touching it makes me nervous about my data.
It’s not unobtrusive; you need to keep an eye on the Time Capsule status in your menubar, because if I sleep when it’s running and then try to wake up somewhere else, sometimes I get the eternal beach-ball and thus a forced reboot.
A few weeks ago, backups started failing with a useless error message and no other evidence. The wonderful Sun Mac-users mailing list said “Reboot.” That did it. Smells like Windows.
The other day, my MacBook started crashing every time Time Machine woke up. A little googling revealed that it’s not just me. I had to move aside the existing backup on the Time Capsule and start again. My backup is 105G and I foolishly started doing it over the WiFi as opposed to plugging in a wire, and after it ran for 90G and ten hours, it failed for no particular reason. It went a lot quicker and completed successfully when I plugged in a Cat5.
Lots of people are reporting lots of other problems, particularly with the “exclude files” options.
So... if you’re using Time Machine, and thinking about getting a Time Capsule to automate the process, I’d suggest hanging on a few more months and a few more updates. It’s still a great idea and I’m sure they’ll eventually get it right.