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S.O.S. - Rescue by a Time Capsule

Backup your data By Robert Jensen

If you've owned a Mac for any length of time then you'll have had your "OH NO...NO...NO!!!" moments where something happened and you lost some valuable data. The next thing going through your mind is "Why, oh why, didn't I make a backup?" Smarter motorcycle riders understand, its not so much 'If you'll have an accident ... but when.' and they are prepared for it by wearing a safety helmet and leathers. I can't offer any help if you ride a chopper but as far as your data goes I'm here to tell you about a device from Apple that can save the day, Time Capsule.

I have to warn you in advance that this is really only useful for Mac owners since it relies on Time Machine, a part of Apple's OS-X Leopard operating system (version 10.5.2 or later). If you have an older version of the operating system (OS) then it's well worth it for you to update to get Time Machine.
Time Capsule is actually an amalgam of four things:

  • wireless router
  • firewall
  • backup software
  • mass storage device

It also does some other handy things like letting you or anyone else on your network access your USB printer or other devices wirelessly. You could also plug in an inexpensive multi-port USB adapter and add a second drive (or third, etc.)
Time Capsule comes in two sizes with either a 500GB or 1TB built-in hard drive spinning at 7200 rpm (the same speed as in your desktop computer and faster than most laptop hard drives). These are designated as server grade hard drives which should offer some peace of mind as far as longevity.

Speaking of sizes the Time Capsule is only 7.7" square and 1.4" high.

Sharing the interior is Apple's newer version of Airport Extreme Base Station wireless router. It features the 802.11n draft 2 protocol and is also compatible with 802.11 A/B/G wireless devices. The 802.11n protocol hasn't been 'officially' adopted by the powers that be, hence the 'Draft N' tag, but in reality 802.11n routers have been on sale for the past few years and any changes made to the specification by the time it is officially adopted can easily be updated on your router. The advantage of the 'N' protocol is increased speed and range " up to double the range and as much as five times the speed of the other protocols (A, B or G). How much of that theoretical increase in speed and range all depends on where you place the Time Capsule, the construction of the walls, ceiling or floors that the signal has to pass through to reach your various wireless peripherals as well as interference from other electrical devices such as wireless phones. I found using Time Capsule's router to be noticeably faster than my Linksys 'G' specification wireless router but this is only when used with another draft 'N' wireless device, if you only have a 'A/B/ or G' wireless modem you'll see no gain in speed.) I also had a few more bars on my signal strength meter when using my laptop at the other end of the house. TIP: Its an easy fix to upgrade your computer to the better 'N' spec with something like a USB dongle type modem.

Another feature of the router is a built-in firewall to protect you and anyone on your network from the sharks out there on the Internet looking for their next meal by attacking an unprotected computer. That is as long as you don't purposely download and install programs from unreliable sources or fail to use strong password protection. TIP: Don't use any words found in any dictionary in any language or other easily guessed password like a birthday or someone's name. I highly recommend Steve Gibson's truly random password generator found at, or at least an easy to remember, but obscure, mnemonic. You might also think about using some sort of password vault type of program so that all you need to remember is a single password to access all your stored passwords. Also, be sure to use the better WPA2 encryption method to secure your passwords.

Now on to the real power behind Time Capsule, the Time Machine software. Time Machine is easy to set up and configure. It takes no more than a few seconds using the default settings. I do strongly recommend you take some time to think about which folders you might NOT want back-upped, like a temporary storage folder made by one of your programs, videos or any files that won't be missed. In the Time Machine preferences window you select 'Options' and then the '+' button to add a rule, select the folder(s) or type of files you don't want to back up and you're done! 

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Related Keywords:backup, data backup, data recovery time capsule

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  • S.O.S. - Rescue by a Time Capsule by DMN Editorial at Aug. 11, 2008 6:53 pm gmt

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