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Connection issues plague Apple AirPort Extreme, Time Capsule

post #1 of 91
Thread Starter 
Users of Apple's latest Airport Extreme Base Station and Time Capsule hardware, released in October 2009, have reported instability and significant reductions in speed when using the routers at the 5GHz wireless band.

A thread on the Apple Discussions features a number of users who claim issues with the hardware. In posts dating back to November and stretching into February, users say they have experienced much slower speeds on the 5GHz band, regardless of proximity to the base station.

"Stability and speed is terrible on 5GHz network," user 'Koskimaa' wrote. "Not to mention, now when I try to watch the streamed iPad Keynote in Quicktime, it crashes my PPPoE connection. Also, Time Machine backup has been far from smooth."

Some have said that transferring large files in 5GHz mode can freeze the connection, and there are numerous reports of instability while accessing 802.11-N mode on the 5.2GHz band. The same problems, users say, are not experienced at the 2.4GHz frequency.

User 'playtech1' wrote on Monday that his new 1TB Time Capsule is "hopeless in the 5GHz band." He said download speeds are about 420Kbps slower than at the 2.4GHz band.

"This is a real shame, given that I bought it to occupy the 5Ghz band - in my apartment I can see over 20 wireless networks in the 2.4ghz band and only one in the 5ghz," they wrote.

Last October, Apple updated its Time Capsule and AirPort Extreme hardware with a new speed boost. The devices include a new antenna design that aims to offer up to 50 percent better wireless performance, along with a 25 percent improvement in range over previous models.

The new hardware operates simultaneously over both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, allowing multiband devices to use the best available band. Apple said the new feature ensures better compatibility with devices that may interfere with one another through wireless transmission.



But rather than seeing improved performance with the new dual-band antenna, a number of users claim that their connection speeds are significantly reduced when operating at the 5GHz band.

"My 5GHz are so slow its unusable," user 'lagstrom' wrote. "Pretty often it (loses) contact and hooks to the 2.4GHz network instead. Please release a firmware fix soon."

"Sometimes I even need to restart my Airport card on my (MacBook Pro) because it hangs after getting connected to the 5GHz network which is extremely unstable," user 'Hank the tnak' wrote.

In December, AppleInsider reported that the AirPort line of routers had lost market share in 2009. Apple's hardware was fifth in the market, thanks in part to higher prices, behind Linksys, Belkin, D-Link and Netgear. And while the Time Machine consumer network attached storage device is a market leader, it satisfies a very small niche market.
post #2 of 91
probably shoulda added issues with Aperture 3 eating hard drives alive with this post.
post #3 of 91
I haven't had any issues with my TC. I backup a Macbook and an Air with no hiccups. I'll keep my eyes open though.
post #4 of 91
I can't believe people waste money on Apple's wireless base station hardware. The same can be done with third party solutions for far less money. Time Capsule is an overpriced joke. I would much rather backup over FireWire than wireless or Ethernet.
post #5 of 91
I have no issues with my older .11n AEBS. I don't use TC.
post #6 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by hillstones View Post

I can't believe people waste money on Apple's wireless base station hardware. The same can be done with third party solutions for far less money. Time Capsule is an overpriced joke.

Did I waste money buying a MBP when I could have purchased an Acer for far less money?\
post #7 of 91
My AirPort Extreme purchased about 2 months ago is working just fine. My MBP & AppleTV use the 5GHz band and my iPhone and older devices use the 2.4GHz band without a problem.
post #8 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Postulant View Post

I haven't had any issues with my TC. I backup a Macbook and an Air with no hiccups. I'll keep my eyes open though.

No issues here either. I replaced my failed Time Capsule with the one. Apple then replaced my old TC no questions asked due to the power supply problems and it was 20 months out of warranty. Can't complain.
post #9 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Postulant View Post

Did I waste money buying a MBP when I could have purchased an Acer for far less money?\

Depends on who you ask.
post #10 of 91
Time Capsule was a great idea, but it's a pretty bad piece of hardware. It overheats all the time, the network is flaky, and Time Machine just doesn't work very fluidly using a remote file store.
post #11 of 91
Apple's routers offer plenty of great features for the money but then oddly exclude others.

Any idea if the problem is HW, driver or firmware related? Things have been great on my end.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ifail View Post

probably shoulda added issues with Aperture 3 eating hard drives alive with this post.

1) That should be it's own article, not one about routers and WiFi.

2) The hyperbolic "eating hard drives" is just a memory leak, so if it's "eating" anything it's virtual memory, not the HW itself.

3) There are plenty of reported issue withe Aperture 3, so if they do an article it should contain all these various issues not just one in an unrelated article.


Quote:
Originally Posted by hillstones View Post

Time Capsule is an overpriced joke. I would much rather backup over FireWire than wireless or Ethernet.

One backup for one machine is fine for your setup but TC has its benefits.
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post #12 of 91
Sporadic issues with my tc too!

The idea is great and it's great when it works. They need to issue a fw update asap.
post #13 of 91
This has been discussed in the past :

http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/wirel...irport-extreme

Basically, the antennas are badly connected. :s GG Apple.

Adi
post #14 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Postulant View Post

I haven't had any issues with my TC. I backup a Macbook and an Air with no hiccups. I'll keep my eyes open though.

Same here, no issues, I connect my iMac and Air all the time, and my wife's MacBook, and my iPhone, and other people's wifi devices. My wife's MacBook and my Air back up over the air to a connected hard drive... and no issues at all.

I'm out in the middle of nowhere, though, where there's no other signals so maybe that's what's going on with other people's routers?
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post #15 of 91
never had any issues with mine and use it only on 5ghz
post #16 of 91
I have the same problem with my older (can't recall the model, but it is flat shaped) Airport extreme. It loses the connection to the internet regularly and has to be restarted. It also takes down my PPPoE connection.

The problem occurs with my older G5 as well as my new iMac 27". I can't use my wireless connection to transfer large number of movies to my Apple TV, the wireless service goes down. I had to resort to using an ethernet connection to do the job. Syncing a single movie is OK though.

This must be a recurring issue. Why some people have problems and others don't, who knows, but it is frustrating to say the least.
post #17 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by adisor19 View Post

This has been discussed in the past :

http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/wirel...irport-extreme

Basically, the antennas are badly connected. :s GG Apple.

Adi

Interesting...
For some reason, however, Apple decided to not add third antennas for each radio. Instead, it appears the middle two antenna connections (AP2 and AP3) bring out combined signals from both the 2.4 and 5 GHz radios. Antenna connector AP1 is dedicated to the 5 GHz radio, while AP4 is dedicated to the 2.4 GHz radio.

To confirm this, I took a closer look at the Amphenol printed circuit antennas and found three different part numbers: two of Apple 820-2519-A and one each of Apple 820-2177-A and Apple 820-2754-A. But I think the antennas are not all connected correctly.

If my theory is correct about the use of dual-band antennas, the two 820-2519-A's should be connected to the board AP2 and AP3 connectors. But only one 820-2519-A is connected to dual-band output AP2, while the other connects to single-band output AP4.

Since I don't have a board schematic, and I can't follow all of the traces in detail, I could be wrong. But I think the antennas connected to AP3 and AP4 are swapped, which could account for the poor 2.4 GHz performance that I found, since the left side radio is 2.4 GHz.
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post #18 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Postulant View Post

Did I waste money buying a MBP when I could have purchased an Acer for far less money?\

... uuuuh except he wasn't commenting on the MacBook Pro vs. other brand notebooks, he was talking about the AirPort Extreme vs. other brand routers. Different products, different uses, different functions. Think before you post, really.
post #19 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by hillstones View Post

I can't believe people waste money on Apple's wireless base station hardware. The same can be done with third party solutions for far less money. Time Capsule is an overpriced joke. I would much rather backup over FireWire than wireless or Ethernet.

My overpriced joke is the best router I've ever had. Easy to set up, use and fast, fast, fast. No problems whatsoever thus far.
post #20 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by ifail View Post

probably shoulda added issues with Aperture 3 eating hard drives alive with this post.

Yeah, this is a poor day for Apple's quality rep. Reading some of the general chatter on the web about Aperture makes me glad I haven't installed the trial yet.
post #21 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by hillstones View Post

I can't believe people waste money on Apple's wireless base station hardware. The same can be done with third party solutions for far less money. Time Capsule is an overpriced joke. I would much rather backup over FireWire than wireless or Ethernet.

I don't know any other SOHO router that gives you IPv6 set up so easily, if at all.
post #22 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by iReality85 View Post

... uuuuh except he wasn't commenting on the MacBook Pro vs. other brand notebooks, he was talking about the AirPort Extreme vs. other brand routers. Different products, different uses, different functions. Think before you post, really.

And he's making a valid association.
SAT QotD: Apple's routers are to cheap routers what Mac notebooks are to ... ? All CE are going to have problems. This router issue seems more widespread than most Apple HW issues, but it doesn't change the fact that they offer plenty of options the cheap routers don't just like Apple's notebooks do over cheap notebooks.
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post #23 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by lloeki View Post

I don't know any other SOHO router that gives you IPv6 set up so easily, if at all.

it used to be well priced if you wanted an 802.1n router with an integrated print server. I don't print anymore so I haven't priced those in a long time. I don't know of many routers with USB for data and dual-bands in that price range. Will check later...
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post #24 of 91
I have not had any issues with my APE base station.

I do GBs of transfers over my 5Ghz APE all the time.
including 3 laptops backing up via timamachine to a MacMini (afp)

The only thing I have as non-default is the channels, I always fix my channels from Automatic.
And I use wideband

I have noticed in the past if I kept it as Automatic it would drop occasionally.
post #25 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

And he's making a valid association.

Apple's routers are to cheap routers what Mac notebooks are to cheap notebooks

All CE are going to have problems. This router issue seems more widespread than most Apple HW issues, but it doesn't change the fact that they offer plenty of options the cheap routers don't just like Apple's notebooks do over cheap notebooks.

An association, yes, but also irrelevant and off-topic. Your indented remark makes little sense too, as what defines "cheap?" Not working as intended? Based on this article and people's frustrations, you could include the Airport Extreme in the "cheap" category then.
post #26 of 91
Disclaimer: yes, I realize there are some out there that do, at least for a while, possibly a long while. And yes, I've made this post before, so perhaps I'm "over evangelizing" things a bit...so be it.

I don't know what it is about the Time Capsule product, but it just doesn't work (at least not as a reliable backup appliance). I think some of it is thermal-issue related, especially when the units die. There's too much heat and not enough airflow or places to get rid of it. Of the two I administer, both started working better when I turned a fan on them.

Perhaps the AirPort is better. I've never tried one, and the lack of web-based administration turns me away from them. I've been much happier running DD-WRT on a supported router, although this is more technical than the average user might like.

Both Time Capsules are in a corporate environment. One later died, but its twin survives to this day, backing up about six computers.

What's perhaps more telling than that, however, is what happened when I wanted to use Time Machine at home. I had no intention of buying a Time Capsule after seeing their absymal reliability demonstrated at work. Instead, I set up a FreeNAS made from an old HP Vectra Pentium Pro after putzing with the same at work to see if it would work better.

Despite being both older and equipped with less processor power than the Time Capsule has, the Vectra-turned-FreeNAS soundly beats the Time Capsule in every way. I've not had the first failure, and the data transfer speed is better. So far I've got four Macintosh systems backing up to the FreeNAS. Despite its advanced age, the old Vectra just sits and does its job.

(FreeNAS has had the ability to emulate a Time Capsule for a few months now. Mac OS X doesn't know the difference.)

It did take some hardware fiddling around to arrive at a working platform, and some of that is discussed here: http://greyghost.mooo.com/timecapsule-vs-freenas/ . You can also look at the pricing table toward the end.

It also backs up my PCs with rsync jobs. There is one SATA drive for PC backups and another for Macintosh stuff. (It's probably the only Pentium Pro system in the world to have a SATA controller and a pair of Samsung Ecogreen SATA drives.)

An added bonus is the ability to use rsync to clone both the PC and Macintosh backup disks to a third disk that can be taken offsite. Time Capsule is allegedly also capable of this, but I've never tried it.

Finally, should a power outage take place, the FreeNAS can communicate with an attached UPS and shut itself down in an orderly way. Although it's equipped with a soft power switch, the Vectra does remember if it was on or off when it lost power--and it comes back up after the power is restored. Time Capsule just goes down with a "thud" when the power goes out, and even if you hook it up to a UPS, I doubt it can communicate with one over USB to realize the battery is getting low.
post #27 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by hillstones View Post

I can't believe people waste money on Apple's wireless base station hardware. The same can be done with third party solutions for far less money. Time Capsule is an overpriced joke. I would much rather backup over FireWire than wireless or Ethernet.

You may not be the intended target for the product. The AEBS is easier to setup.

I've used Linksys productions (G and N) before - it wasn't hard. But the AEBS is much easier for the average person. I prefer less time spent on setting up and more on the fun stuff. I have more $ than time.
post #28 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by hillstones View Post

I can't believe people waste money on Apple's wireless base station hardware. The same can be done with third party solutions for far less money. Time Capsule is an overpriced joke. I would much rather backup over FireWire than wireless or Ethernet.

sure - firewire is great for backups, but for backing up several laptops used by people that would never remember to plug in on a regular basis - time capsule is pretty sweet. it's a great 'no-brainer' solution for casual backups and fits nicely into a more rigorous strategy. considering how many people give you that 'deer in the headline' stare when asked about their backup plan, its a step in the right direction.

i personally haven't had any of the issues mentioned here, maybe i'm just lucky.
post #29 of 91
I have no problems to report with my dual band airport extreme ...

Works like a charm...

Apple TV / 2 Macbooks / 1 mac mini / windows laptop all talking without issues...
post #30 of 91
No problems with mine from day one… totally reliable hardware that you set up and forget.

I'm sure a lot of these "issues" are people playing with settings that they simply don't understand.

And the next step is for them to blame the hardware...
post #31 of 91
Mine also works very good (AEBS.11), when it's working, it's one piece of crap if you're having issues with it though. You may need to reset the settings multiple times to get all your settings lined up.

The only issue I can't resolve for whatever reason is with my attached hard drive. My hard disk remains ON but not available to the AEBS, the AEBS doesn't seem to keep some kind of disk activity alive after awhile. I have to restart my drive to get it to discover it, it's annoying.
post #32 of 91
News to me. I have a 3 point distributed net with these suckers, with no problems... I often wonder how they determine headlines of the 'plagued' sort, without any apparent sizing of the problem, AFAIK...
post #33 of 91
...of AppleInsider's sensationalist journalism. Seriously, plagued?
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post #34 of 91
I just think its hilarious that this story comes out not 12 hours after I just bought my first Airport Base Station to replace my dying 5-year-old Linksys router =). Figures, right?
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post #35 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by chashulme View Post

News to me. I have a 3 point distributed net with these suckers, with no problems... I often wonder how they determine headlines of the 'plagued' sort, without any apparent sizing of the problem, AFAIK...

if you go to any apple forum and post 30 fake posts about issues with any type of apple hardware (keyboard, mouse, etc), it may show up in appleinsider...
post #36 of 91
probably not related, but I've been having the same problems all day today. Restarting my 2 year old 1 TB Time Capsule stopped the signal dropping every five minutes, but the strength is still bad.
post #37 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by hillstones View Post

I can't believe people waste money on Apple's wireless base station hardware. The same can be done with third party solutions for far less money. Time Capsule is an overpriced joke. I would much rather backup over FireWire than wireless or Ethernet.

Apple's base stations are the most solid routers on the market (at least, they were a year ago). I tried, and gave up on, 4 different brand routers (all significantly cheaper than the Apple base station) including linksys and belkin before settling for the more expensive solution. None of the other routers could sustain a constantly open AIM connection, and many required a couple hours or so of fiddling every week or two to make sure things kept working properly. I've set my Apple base station up once... and haven't touched it since (not to mention that the setup process is so incredibly easy). The extra price you pay saves you time, headaches, and hassles. Trust me, I've tried the competition, and I'm far from a novice.
post #38 of 91
I have this problem with my Airport Express... it sucks but i'll get along with the 2.4GHz for now. hopefully there is a fix soon
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post #39 of 91
No issues here at all - plugged it in, it just worked, has done for several years. Reliable, functional and looks nice on the side. Plagued indeed?! If you mean "sporadic issues" or "some users have reported an issue" then why not say that?
post #40 of 91
Ouch, especially for time capsule users trying to backup or worse yet restore their systems wirelessly. Seems like these AirPorts keep having problems, I remember my extreame kept disconnecting after a firmware update. That was for a whole month before apple "fixed it" and another fix to remove the problem completely.
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