By Cliff Joseph | on March 02, 2010
Pros: Very easy to use; good back-up performance using the built-in Wireless-N router.
Cons: Expensive; essentially Mac-only, requires Snow Leopard for optimum performance; wireless router doesn’t include ADSL modem.
Apple didn’t make an elaborate announcement at the time – it was probably too busy updating the iPod, iMac and the entire MacBook range – but it has recently updated its popular storage system Time Capsule, making it both faster and cheaper.
The 1TB model that we tested used to cost a thumping £379, but that price has now come down to a highly manageable £234 (replacing the previous 500GB model), and there’s an added 2TB version for £388 instead. It’s still quite a bit more expensive than most rival NAS drives, but don’t forget that the Time Capsule does also include a built-in Wireless-N router that allows you to back up your files over a wireless network.
Apple also told us that file back-up speeds are up to 50 per cent faster if you’re using Snow Leopard. Using a wired Ethernet connection the Time Capsule took 20 minutes to back up our 10GB batch of test files, which is merely average for this group of products. However, wireless back-up was faster, coming in at just under 19 minutes, so the Time Capsule’s wireless capabilities certainly provide good performance.
And, as you might expect from Apple, the Time Capsule is also impressively easy to use. The AirPort software built into the Mac OS automatically detects the Time Capsule as soon as you turn it on, so all you have to do is open Time Machine and tell it to use the Time Capsule for your backups. Windows users can access shares, but back-up is strictly for the Mac.
Apple seems to assume that customers will only ever use the Time Capsule to make automatic back-ups with Time Machine, so they don’t even bother to explain how to set up additional folders on the Time Capsule hard disk – a useful feature which individual users can set aside for their personal use. You’ll also need to pay for a MobileMe account if you want to use the Time Capsule’s remote access option.
If you’ve already got a good Wireless-N router that you’re happy with then you might want to explore one of the less expensive NAS drives here with a standard ethernet connection. Studios with a mix of Windows PCs and Macs will want to steer clear – but for Mac-only set-ups, the Time Capsule’s consistent and efficient performance, coupled with its ease of use and versatile wireless features, make it a good choice.