The price between an airport extreme and 2TB Time Capsule is quite a lot (£100) and as far as I can see the only different is that the Time Capsule has a hard drive built in. Is there any problems with buying an airport extreme and a (£70) 2TB USB hard drive and just plugging it in to the back? Will I still be able to use Time machine? And will I be able (like my last question) be able to use the same drive for windows backup?

(I'm not sure why Apple would charge so much more if you can use them separately?)

  • I’d recommend splitting the Windows backup part into a separate question – the FAQ and moderator level users frown upon different issues being mixed into one question.
    – kopischke
    Commented Oct 22, 2011 at 22:56
  • Well I got told that windows backup would work on a time capsule. So I need to know if it would work on a USB drive.
    – Jonathan.
    Commented Oct 22, 2011 at 23:24
  • 1
    The question is perfectly legitimate – I’m just recommending opening another Ask Different question about it, as “Time Machine” and “Windows backup” are separate issues and unlikely to be answered by the same people. Also, searching for issues is more difficult when topics are mixed (this one isn’t even tagged “windows”), which runs against the grain of what Ask Different is meant to achieve.
    – kopischke
    Commented Oct 23, 2011 at 12:28

2 Answers 2


According to Apple, Airport Extreme with attached disk is not supported for Time Machine. It might work, sometimes, but with a backup system, people usually want more than "might work sometimes".


  • I concur: I have found this setup to be very unreliable myself; for as long as I have ben using the a USB drive connected to an AirPort Extreme, Time Machine has declared its backup corrupted and re-started it from scratch in an interval of 3 days to 3 weeks, effectively voiding the utility of regular backups. Since I have switched to a Time Capsule, about two months ago, Time Machine backups run continuously from all three machines in our household. [removed my answer as it is only from experience – @Daniel’s has the necessary references]
    – kopischke
    Commented Oct 22, 2011 at 23:04
  • Experience can be better than reference often Apple says different things. Thanks.
    – Jonathan.
    Commented Oct 22, 2011 at 23:37

If you attach a USB drive to an Extreme, you can access that drive as a "mapped network drive" in Windows (right-click Network). Once mapped, it is just like any other drive, and your backup program should be able to read/write it.

  • 1
    Not true for Time Machine specifically - it checks and will not use this sort of shared drive for a backup destination. Other programs can use it, but not Time Machine.
    – bmike
    Commented Feb 8, 2012 at 4:12

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