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Apple says Time Machine over AirPort Disk is unsupported feature

post #1 of 78
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AirPort Extreme owners using a recently resurrected feature of the WiFi routers that lets externally connected USB hard drives act as wireless backup volumes for Time Machine shouldn't come knocking on Apple's door if problems arise, the company now says.

Dubbed AirPort Disk, the functionality was once a highly touted feature of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. But in the weeks leading up to the operating system's release last fall, Apple edited its website, removing all such references to the backup solution.

"With a hard disk connected to your AirPort Extreme Base Station, all the Macs in your house can use Time Machine to back up wirelessly," read one description of the feature that was redacted in October without explanation. "Simply select your AirPort Disk as the backup disk for each computer and the whole family can enjoy the benefits of Time Machine."

At the Macworld Expo a few months later, Apple appeared to introduce its answer to the missing feature in Time Capsule, a proprietary hardware solution that essentially pairs an AirPort Extreme with a built-in "server grade" hard drive for primary usage with Time Machine.

Though Time Capsule was a welcomed addition to Apple's product matrix, some customers remained frustrated over the company's silence on Time Machine's support of AirPort Disk given that they had purchased AirPort Extreme products in anticipation of the feature shipping as part of Leopard.

Last month, it seemed as if Apple was attempting to rectifying the situation through the release of a series of software and firmware updates, which re-enabled the ability to select USB hard drives connected to AirPort Extreme base stations as wireless backup volumes for Time Machine.

This now appears as if it was some kind of mistake on company's part, according to Tidbits' Glenn Fleishman. He recently mailed Apple with some questions regarding the feature for a review he was working on and received a reply from an unnamed representative stating that Time Machine backups over AirPort Disk is "an unsupported feature."

This means that should something go astray with a user's data backups, Apple isn't responsible and AppleCare reps will have no insight on how to properly diagnose and address the issue.

In his report, Fleishman noted that Apple has refused to provide a formal explanation of the matter. However, he speculates that AirPort Disk support was accidently re-enabled when a debugging feature wasn't properly shut off before the recent software updates were released.

This of course presents the likely possibility that Apple will once again disable the feature with a forthcoming update.
post #2 of 78
Be careful of coming software updates. They could be putting the option off again
post #3 of 78
What a d**k move.
post #4 of 78
To quote Garth re: the Spider Donut:

Quote:
Yeah, well they'd better not!
post #5 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheSpecialist View Post

Be careful of coming software updates. They could be putting the option off again

I have got mine working perfectly too! It has been running flawlessly for over a week. I will be l ticked off if were stooped by an update!

I can see one reason Apple have this problem, the initial backup is so painful if done wirelessly yet without the sparsebundle it doesn't work wirelessly.

Apple needs to add an option in the initial set up and allow a direct connection first backup to be done using the sparsebundle. It would then be really simple.

This is what is needed.
1. Back up with FireWire or USB2 directly from MacBook etc. selecting 'SparseBundle Option'.
2. Move hard drive to AE or TC.
3. No step 3.

As it is, and only thanks to guidance from this blog, I was able to get a tiny sparsebundle created wirelessly, then connect using FireWire to make the initial back up. Once done and back on the AE it worked perfectly. But what a flipping complicated route to have to go!
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post #6 of 78
This is starting to get very annoying.

They can't seem to make their minds up on whether this feature is going to be a feature or not. On, off, on off. I wish they'd just pick a strategy and stick with it.
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post #7 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by Achiever View Post

What a d**k move.

Yeah what the hell is Apple's problem? Why the F*(# can't they just provide a simple explanation, set the record straight, and then be done with it? And then they wonder why things get garbled all over the internet and users do things they apparently shouldn't. Why must everything be so god damn secretive, from a color change of a computer, to software release notes that tell you NOTHING about what will change after an update, to garbage like this.

I'm in a cranky mood today. OK. But Apple only has itself to blame for this mess because they advocated the feature. Had they not, and rumor sites report it, fine. Not their fault. But they very publicly told customers it was coming. Then they swept it under the rug and hoped no one was looking. Well PEOPLE WERE LOOKING. And there's A LOT OF OTHER DUST UNDER THERE

MRG
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post #8 of 78
As I have posted twice before- in two other Appleinsider threads reviewing TIme Capsule and Time Machine over an AEBS using a USB disk-the latter was not EVER officially supported by Apple- and if Appleinsider had done some simple homework- a lot of people would have been saved the frustration of thinking that it was.

I wrote to Appleinsider directly about this- and I suppose this is there response. Thanks.
post #9 of 78
In a glass half-full mode (apologies to the cranky ones!):

This back-and-forth error also presents the likely possibility that Apple is still working to FIX the feature

If they don't deliver that... well, pre-release features get canned from products all the time. It's nothing new, and there were disclaimers at the time as always. Touting a feature and then removing it BEFORE it goes on sale may be annoying but it's a fact of life with software.

The REAL mistake is in enabling the feature by accident in the last update. Apple may or may not ever explain that error in depth--but I expect some statement will be coming.
post #10 of 78
Plain and simple, Apple does not want the liability. That's okay though as the Mac community as always found a way around such matters while apple looks the other way...it has been the scheme of things since Apple's beginning. In other words, no bug deal.
post #11 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by Taylorman View Post

As I have posted twice before- in two other Appleinsider threads reviewing TIme Capsule and Time Machine over an AEBS using a USB disk-the latter was not EVER officially supported by Apple- and if Appleinsider had done some simple homework- a lot of people would have been saved the frustration of thinking that it was.

But it WAS officially advertised by Apple.

That's where the frustration comes in.
post #12 of 78
Quote:
This now appears as if it was some kind of mistake on company's part, according to Tidbits' Glenn Fleishman.
...
In his report, Fleishman noted that Apple has refused to provide a formal explanation of the matter. However, he speculates that AirPort Disk support was accidently re-enabled when a debugging feature wasn't properly shut off before the recent software updates were released.

The real disservice for users was done by news outlets (such as AppleInsider) that reported the "fact" that Apple re-enabled Time Machine backups to Airport Disks, when in fact, that was never the case. Before and after the recent Airport update, I was able to choose Airport Disks without any problems, as long as they were mounted. Nothing has changed in this respect.

Over at MacDailyNews, they even went so far as to try and build up their case that this "feature" was the real deal by posting screenshots. They never backed down, and now look at where we are.

A real shame that people were blinded by their wishful thinking.
post #13 of 78
There is a significant minority of AirPort Extreme (gigabit) customers who have non-functional units, in that they drop wireless connection several times per day. I cannot use mine, firmware 7.3.1 or not. The Time Capsule I bought has attached to the same network and been rock-solid since day one.

You do wonder if this is part of Apple's thinking -flaky design. The Time Capsule appears to be improved hardware.

But we will all end up speculating, for all we truly know is that when the Soviet Empire folded, all the Politburo members migrated to Apple's Customer Relations and PR Departments. No comment from them.
post #14 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by coolfactor View Post

The real disservice for users was done by news outlets (such as AppleInsider) that reported the "fact" that Apple re-enabled Time Machine backups to Airport Disks, when in fact, that was never the case. Before and after the recent Airport update, I was able to choose Airport Disks without any problems, as long as they were mounted. Nothing has changed in this respect.

Over at MacDailyNews, they even went so far as to try and build up their case that this "feature" was the real deal by posting screenshots. They never backed down, and now look at where we are.

A real shame that people were blinded by their wishful thinking.

Apple did re-enable the ability to use AirPort Disks as a backup under Time Machine with those updates. That is a FACT. It was not just reported here, but pretty much every other Mac site I read (which is many). Whether Apple intended to do it or not is not the question. Since Apple refuses to comment on pretty much everything these days that isnt in a press release, i'm not sure what you'd expect to read on the internet. You expect the people should just guess "OH MAYBE THIS IS A MISTAKE?"

Please, this is Apple's fault. This whole mess is. They advertised a feature. They took it away without explanation. They then brought it back silently (by mistake?). Now they say if you use it and it screws something up, don't come knocking on our door but refuse to provide any explanation? PLEASE. Then just issue a patch now that disables it with a note saying this feature IS NOT SUPPORT AND NEVER WILL BE, and END IT.

MRG
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post #15 of 78
The reason they don't support it is because you obviously are using a 3rd party external hard drive. Apple never has supported 3rd party software or devices.

DUH.
post #16 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by YakkoW View Post

But it WAS officially advertised by Apple.

That's where the frustration comes in.


And it WAS officially advertised by Apple that features are subject to change.
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post #17 of 78
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post #18 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

I have got mine working perfectly too! It has been running flawlessly for over a week. I will be l ticked off if were stooped by an update!

I can see one reason Apple have this problem, the initial backup is so painful if done wirelessly yet without the sparsebundle it doesn't work wirelessly.

Apple needs to add an option in the initial set up and allow a direct connection first backup to be done using the sparsebundle. It would then be really simple.

This is what is needed.
1. Back up with FireWire or USB2 directly from MacBook etc. selecting 'SparseBundle Option'.
2. Move hard drive to AE or TC.
3. No step 3.

As it is, and only thanks to guidance from this blog, I was able to get a tiny sparsebundle created wirelessly, then connect using FireWire to make the initial back up. Once done and back on the AE it worked perfectly. But what a flipping complicated route to have to go!

You can connect your macbook to the AEBS using ethernet and do the initial backup. You must turn off airport for this to work. When it is finished, turn airport back on and disconnect the ethernet. Do a forced backup and all should be fine. Worked for me. Creates a sparseimage. It has been working with a mac mini with gigabit ethernet and a macbook with wireless-g. Trying soon with a G5 wired ethernet.
post #19 of 78
so for the regular consumer, TC is the simplest answer BUT what happens when your TC hd is near full can then you add an external hd or do you buy a new TC

apple needs a home server with add on HD capability make them apple branded hd's i don't care i want something that is simple and works....something i can rec to my mom...that simple
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post #20 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by coremonkey View Post

The reason they don't support it is because you obviously are using a 3rd party external hard drive. Apple never has supported 3rd party software or devices.

DUH.


Yeah, this is the beginning of a cash-grab. First, they know Apple Computer users are almost 100% faithful to Apple MP3 players, keyboards, mice, and displays, and indeed almost exclusively support their own hardware. Now they want to add external hard drives to that equation... I wonder how long it'll be before Apple releases several of their own branded hard drives minus airport, and then drops LaCie from the Apple Store.
post #21 of 78
I posted about this a couple of times in here and another guy (Taylorman) also posted about his conversation with Apple support where they stated that it was not supported.

It is good to get further confirmation.

I wonder how much bitching there is going to be if they turn it off when 10.5.3 comes out. LOL.

Quote:
Originally Posted by coolfactor View Post

The real disservice for users was done by news outlets (such as AppleInsider) that reported the "fact" that Apple re-enabled Time Machine backups to Airport Disks, when in fact, that was never the case. Before and after the recent Airport update, I was able to choose Airport Disks without any problems, as long as they were mounted. Nothing has changed in this respect.

Over at MacDailyNews, they even went so far as to try and build up their case that this "feature" was the real deal by posting screenshots. They never backed down, and now look at where we are.

A real shame that people were blinded by their wishful thinking.

I wrote to several sites and podcasters about it and the attitude was the same "Hey it works, so it is fine". Nobody wanted to notice that it was not documented anywhere and neither was on Apple site.

I so wish publications did their readers a favor and investigate, before adverticing a feature.
post #22 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by Taylorman View Post

As I have posted twice before- in two other Appleinsider threads reviewing TIme Capsule and Time Machine over an AEBS using a USB disk-the latter was not EVER officially supported by Apple- and if Appleinsider had done some simple homework- a lot of people would have been saved the frustration of thinking that it was.

What was your source?

Apple included the feature, how was AI or anyone else for that matter, supposed to know that it wasn't officially supported? Now are we supposed to be paranoid every time a release includes a new feature that it might not be Official and may be taken away later?

Quote:
Originally Posted by coolfactor View Post

The real disservice for users was done by news outlets (such as AppleInsider) that reported the "fact" that Apple re-enabled Time Machine backups to Airport Disks, when in fact, that was never the case. Before and after the recent Airport update, I was able to choose Airport Disks without any problems, as long as they were mounted. Nothing has changed in this respect.

I'm not sure what you're talking about. The update actually DID enable the feature, people used it and it worked fine. Are you saying it always worked (you were able to choose an airport disk and successfully backup to it?), or are you saying that the people using the feature are just hallucinating it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by coremonkey View Post

The reason they don't support it is because you obviously are using a 3rd party external hard drive. Apple never has supported 3rd party software or devices.

DUH.

That's idiotic. They have plenty of features in the hardware and software that require third party stuff. By that logic, they wouldn't support printing or burning DVDs since apple doesn't sell the printer or blank media.

Of course they could say that your drive is bad, but that's completely different than not supporting the feature ever.
post #23 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by minderbinder View Post

What was your source?

Apple included the feature, how was AI or anyone else for that matter, supposed to know that it wasn't officially supported? Now are we supposed to be paranoid every time a release includes a new feature that it might not be Official and may be taken away later?



I'm not sure what you're talking about. The update actually DID enable the feature, people used it and it worked fine. Are you saying it always worked (you were able to choose an airport disk and successfully backup to it?), or are you saying that the people using the feature are just hallucinating it?



That's idiotic. They have plenty of features in the hardware and software that require third party stuff. By that logic, they wouldn't support printing or burning DVDs since apple doesn't sell the printer or blank media.

Of course they could say that your drive is bad, but that's completely different than not supporting the feature ever.

Taylorman called Apple and talked to them. They clearly told him it was not supported.

Also if others would have looked at the manual pages for TM and for the AEBS they may have noticed it was not mentioned.

Also if people go to the Apple web site and look into TM and AEBS, again the feature is not mentioned at all.

If it was a supported feature, it would have been advertized.

AEBS and TC share a lot of the same code, so probably they screwup. Also if you noticed the build of the system changed to a weird number (compared to the previous build number) and they also screwup the OSX copyright, they changed it from 2008 back to 2007. That update was all screwup.

I am afraid that some of those issues will be corrected in 10.5.3 and this "feature" will be turned off.
post #24 of 78
That's all well and good, but the fact remains that apple DID enable the feature. It's just flat out wrong to insist that the feature wasn't enabled (as some have here) just because apple says they won't support it.

Apple doesn't always do a good job of keeping their documentation up to date - does that mean every feature in apple OS or app that isn't mentioned in a manual or advertised somewhere is also "unsupported" and I should be worried it might go away?
post #25 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by minderbinder View Post

That's all well and good, but the fact remains that apple DID enable the feature. It's just flat out wrong to insist that the feature wasn't enabled (as some have here) just because apple says they won't support it.

Apple doesn't always do a good job of keeping their documentation up to date - does that mean every feature in apple OS or app that isn't mentioned in a manual or advertised somewhere is also "unsupported" and I should be worried it might go away?

You are fixating on whose fault it was. That is not really that important.
What is important is that it is not a supported feature, and while it may seem to work for most, you maybe putting your data at risk.

I assume your data is important.

I started by looking at the lack of documentation, the lack of adverticing a hot feature in Apple web site, and the screwups of the build number and the screwup of the copyright. That told me it was not thrust worthy.

I wrote here several time, at macrumors and macatack, and many others I also talked to Taylorman and quoted his post at all those places and others.

Yet it is still a surprice to people.

I can understand why people are angry, to them I say ... Be glad you did not find out after your disk crash and the restore did not work.

Lets all look for alternatives like TC and superdupper or CCC.
post #26 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by minderbinder View Post

Apple doesn't always do a good job of keeping their documentation up to date - does that mean every feature in apple OS or app that isn't mentioned in a manual or advertised somewhere is also "unsupported" and I should be worried it might go away?

There is a major difference between keeping documentation up to date and not listing specs and features you don't wish to officially support.

There is no evidence that Apple will remove this feature. I suspect they will keep making it better so that all AEBS can use USB connected drives for Time Machine, but that doesn't mean they will ever officially support it... and I reckon they never will.
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post #27 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by EagerDragon View Post

You are fixating on whose fault it was. That is not really that important.
What is important is that it is not a supported feature, and while it may seem to work for most, you maybe putting your data at risk.

I assume your data is important.

I doubt it.
post #28 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by Superbass View Post

Yeah, this is the beginning of a cash-grab. First, they know Apple Computer users are almost 100% faithful to Apple MP3 players, keyboards, mice, and displays, and indeed almost exclusively support their own hardware. Now they want to add external hard drives to that equation... I wonder how long it'll be before Apple releases several of their own branded hard drives minus airport, and then drops LaCie from the Apple Store.

Somebody (is) will be wrong, http://store.apple.com/1-800-MY-APPL...sories/storage
post #29 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abster2core View Post

Somebody is wrong, http://store.apple.com/1-800-MY-APPL...sories/storage

He didn't say that they had dropped Lacie. He did wonder how long it would be until Apple only sell Apple-branded hard drives and dropped 3rd-party items (such as Lacie).
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post #30 of 78
What's the matter Mr. Jobs, too busy with your iPods?? I was waiting to add to my Mac collection a Mac Pro (I have a MBP), but I was waiting for the new Cinema Display so I can put them both on the warranty. Now, since Apple Computers, Um, I a mean Apple Inc. finds computing too difficult, I'll just build a Hackintosh. I LOVE OS X, but they are just pissing me off with everything else. Sheesh!
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post #31 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by audiopollution View Post

He didn't say that they had dropped Lacie. He did wonder how long it would be until Apple only sell Apple-branded hard drives and dropped 3rd-party items (such as Lacie).

I stand corrected.

But it will never happen,
post #32 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacsRGood4U View Post

Yeah what the hell is Apple's problem? Why the F*(# can't they just provide a simple explanation, set the record straight, and then be done with it? And then they wonder why things get garbled all over the internet and users do things they apparently shouldn't. Why must everything be so god damn secretive, from a color change of a computer, to software release notes that tell you NOTHING about what will change after an update, to garbage like this.

I'm in a cranky mood today. OK. But Apple only has itself to blame for this mess because they advocated the feature. Had they not, and rumor sites report it, fine. Not their fault. But they very publicly told customers it was coming. Then they swept it under the rug and hoped no one was looking. Well PEOPLE WERE LOOKING. And there's A LOT OF OTHER DUST UNDER THERE

MRG

I completely agree. I've already written about this numerous times, and always get flamed by the psychotic faboys. Apple has every right to keep product development secret, and I think we all love to speculate and be surprised by what Jobs reveals on stage at Apple events. But this secrecy-for-secrey's-sake bullshit has got to stop.. It just makes them look bad and creates way too much unnecessary animosity between them and their customers. I seriously cannot even comprehend what Jobs is thinking! Why would he want to put so many people off like that?
It seems like recently there have been more of these situations... the Inability to add/edit calendar events on the iPod touch, The unclear situation on charging for updates on the iPod Touch, The 8800GT mess, this Airport disk mess, etc.
I'm sure there have been more I can''t think of at the moment and I'd bet that many if not most have had at least a small effect on current and future purchase decisions, and attitudes towards the company. Also, I bet many of the situations involved no intentional harm or screwjob on the part of Apple, and that is the biggest problem. Without any information, people are going to assume the worst.

Can anyone think of a reason why Apple would not want to be transparent on minor issues like these?
post #33 of 78
I hook up a HDD to my AEBS just like Apple says I can. I turn on Time Machine. TM sees the HDD and asks if I want to use it to back up my computer. I confirm I do. It works. To me, that is IMPLIED support.
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post #34 of 78
The whole, entire reason I switched to Mac was because of how impressed I was by Apple fans.

This is shi**ing on us.... if Apple takes this back. It's total BS.
post #35 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by 8CoreWhore View Post

I hook up a HDD to my AEBS just like Apple says I can. I turn on Time Machine. TM sees the HDD and asks if I want to use it to back up my computer. I confirm I do. It works. To me, that is IMPLIED support.

Supported means that Apple has clearly specified this as a feature, will assist you if you have trouble setting it up and that you'd have a case for litigation if it doesn't work.
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post #36 of 78
I'm in love with Apple just as much as the rest of you, but it's clear they make business/profit-motivated decisions over making users happy. It's pretty obvious they pulled the feature at first just to push new hardware (Time Capsule). Granted, I don't know about possible hardware changes between AEBS and TC, but it seems that it should just work for both.
post #37 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by winterspan View Post

Why would he want to put so many people off like that?

Because he doesn't. Just a handful of the same disgruntals that repeatedly same the same crap.

It seems like recently there have been more of these situations... the Inability to add/edit calendar events on the iPod touch, The unclear situation on charging for updates on the iPod Touch, The 8800GT mess, this Airport disk mess, etc. [/QUOTE]

What do you want for a couple of bucks. As we promised, there is more to come. He didn't charge at all for updates, they were brand new apps. What mess?

Quote:
Originally Posted by winterspan View Post

Can anyone think of a reason why Apple would not want to be transparent on minor issues like these?

Because they were minor. Better question, why make a mountain out of a mole hill?

Interesting that Apple is doing so much better than anybody else in the business in every aspect, continues to get better all the time, can be maligned by so few. A few, that for whatever reason never have kind word to say. And can't wait for the next article to vent their spew.

Perhaps Apple's policy of patience is something that more could make use of. Invariably Apple comes through.
post #38 of 78
Rather than take on trying to psychically fathom Apple's intent- or rationale- write them a letter telling them what you think. (Not that it will make any difference- short of class action lawsuits- they typically don't respond to customer complaints very well) What annoys me more is the slipshod reporting on this "feature set" by Appleinsider. I do expect more from them - and have let them know.
post #39 of 78
I would suggest that apple leave the feature on so people that want to can use the feature and apple can continue to work on the feature. Apple can post a disclaimer or just say as apple has that airdisk is not a supported feature and use at your own risk and leave it at that.
To turn the feature off again at this point would ,in my opinion look really bad.
post #40 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by Taylorman View Post

As I have posted twice before- in two other Appleinsider threads reviewing TIme Capsule and Time Machine over an AEBS using a USB disk-the latter was not EVER officially supported by Apple- and if Appleinsider had done some simple homework- a lot of people would have been saved the frustration of thinking that it was.

I wrote to Appleinsider directly about this- and I suppose this is there response. Thanks.

I quite agree. Apple has been making it very clear that this is NOT a supported function of the AirportExtreme. Kind of reckless of AppleInsider to declare that it was a "feature." So now AI comes along and spins this really hard to make it look like Apple has again withdrawn this semi-functionality.


Seems like somebody at AI is auditioning for White House Press Secretary
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