Apple says Time Machine over AirPort Disk is unsupported feature

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 77
    Be careful of coming software updates. They could be putting the option off again
  • Reply 2 of 77
    achieverachiever Posts: 23member
    What a d**k move.
  • Reply 3 of 77
    fuyutsukifuyutsuki Posts: 293member
    To quote Garth re: the Spider Donut:



    Quote:

    Yeah, well ? they'd better not!



  • Reply 4 of 77
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,251member
    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!
  • Reply 5 of 77
    mr_zebramr_zebra Posts: 85member
    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.
  • Reply 6 of 77
    macsrgood4umacsrgood4u Posts: 3,007member
    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
  • Reply 7 of 77
    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.
  • Reply 8 of 77
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    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.
  • Reply 9 of 77
    crebcreb Posts: 276member
    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.
  • Reply 10 of 77
    yakkowyakkow Posts: 18member
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 77
    coolfactorcoolfactor Posts: 1,794member
    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.
  • Reply 12 of 77
    fjsfjs Posts: 3member
    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.
  • Reply 13 of 77
    macsrgood4umacsrgood4u Posts: 3,007member
    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
  • Reply 14 of 77
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 77
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    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.
  • Reply 16 of 77
    quinneyquinney Posts: 2,528member
    Things were good, things were bad, things were good,

    things were bad, good, bad, good, bad, gjgjdnnnbjfjjfdrrrrrfguh
  • Reply 17 of 77
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 77
    nofeernofeer Posts: 2,422member
    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
  • Reply 19 of 77
    superbasssuperbass Posts: 688member
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 77
    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.
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