The title pretty much says it all. I currently have an Airport Extreme Base Station and I want to be able to use the USB port on it to hook up an external hard drive and use it as a wireless means of backing up my hard drives, and have Time Machine act just like it would with Time Capsule.

Has anyone had success in setting this up? Is there a specific hard drive that has had success? Any spec I need to be looking for in shopping for a hard drive? Any help is appreciated.


Unlike the Time Capsule, the Airport Extreme doesn't support being a backup destination, no matter what drive you use. It is possible to force Time Machine to use unsupported destinations, but this is unsafe - the AEBS lacks features that help protect data, and without them, the slightest network error can make your backups useless.

Some of the technical reasons for this have been explored here: Why won't Time Machine work with a drive connected to an Airport Extreme?

However, you can look for a network-attached drive that supports Time Machine, such as WD's My Book Live. These are drives that attach by ethernet instead of USB, and they implement the file-sharing features that Time Machine requires.

  • This is true, but you can use other software to back up to a drive attached to an Airport Extreme via USB. I use Carbon Copy Cloner for this and it seems to work fine. – Chris Herbert Oct 21 '12 at 2:37
  • So buy a WD My Book Live Hard Drive, and connect it via ethernet and I'm good to go? – tarheel Oct 21 '12 at 3:44
  • Sure. Or any other drive that supports it. It should specifically mention Time Machine support. – gabedwrds Oct 21 '12 at 3:53
  • Ordered a My Book Live from WD. Waiting for it to ship. – tarheel Oct 22 '12 at 15:15
  • My Book Live worked. On to see if I can get all my other devices backed up to it too. Thanks for the help. – tarheel Oct 24 '12 at 21:58

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