Apple Airport Time Capsule Review, Is It Still Great?

By Paul Gregory / August 22, 2019
Apple Time Capsule Review

​MacTakeAwayData Rank

You've been able to buy the Apple Airport Time Capsule since 2013.

And those of you who knew the 4th generation will love the significantly smaller footprint of the new 2TB and 3TB Airport Time Capsule. 

This latest 5th generation is more attractive in its design.

But several years on from its release will you find it's still great?

And if it is, Why?

​In this review I aim to give you the insider's view.

Airport Time Capsule Pros

Attractive design with smaller footprint

  • ​You'll find an attractive design with a smaller footprint. Makes it easier for you to find the perfect spot to put it in your home or office
  • ​​Fast performance for your over the air Time Machine backups
  • ​​Supports 802.11ac Wifi for your newer Apple tech
  • ​​The Wifi antenna is now upright. And this means that you'll a get much wider range on the Time Capsule's Wifi

Airport Time Capsule Cons

  • ​​Apple has disbanded the division that develops its wireless routers. And the hot news since May 2018 is that Apple is ending production. Apple will no longer make any of the AirPort Basestation routers. And this covers the Airport Express, Airport Extreme and Airport Time Capsule.
  • ​​You can read the article in Mac Observer and the one in Zdnet to find out more about this
  • ​You'll be able to buy an Apple Airport Time Capsule until all stocks run out. So if you're interested you'll need to hurry. And you'll get support services and parts for the next five years.

Airport Time Capsule Review 2019 Verdict

If you're an Apple user with a 5th generation Airport Time Capsule you'll love its fast dual band Wifi . You'll find its small footprint handy. A be grateful for its large Wifi range. And with its tie into the rest of your Apple eco system.

​You'll have to move quick. When stocks go and you wanna buy an Apple Time Capsule you'll need to go refurbished or second user.

​​Due to the demise of the Apple Airport Time Capsule I decided to check the market. Were there any suitable alternatives? ​Find out how I got on.

​Apple Airport Time Capsule
Airport Time Capsule - 3TB 5th Generation

​Take a Look at the 2TB Airport Time Capsule on Amazon


​Feature Review of the Apple Time Capsule

​​You'll find in this Airport Time Capsule review all the key points. From design to internal storage capacity.

​Apple Time Capsule Model Comparison Table


​​Airport Express

​Airport Extreme

​Airport Time Capsule

​Wifi


​Yes -802.11n

​Yes - 802.11ac

​Yes - 802.11ac

​Internal Hard Drive?

​No

​No

​Yes - 2TB or 3TB

USB Ports

​Printer Only

​​Printers and External Hard Drive

​Printers and External Hard Drive

​Ethernet Ports

​2 x 10/100 BASE-T

4 ​x Gigabit

​4 x Gigabit

​Guest Networking

Yes

Yes

Yes

​Airplay

Yes

​No

​No

You'll see that not all the Time Capsules have internal drives. The Airport Express and Airport Extreme work mainly as Wifi routers and boosters.

How Does Your Apple Time Capsule Work?

You'll find a true two in one appliance.  What does that mean?

For your connection to the Internet you'll have a router. A router supplied by your Internet Service Provider. That router services all your devices in your home or office.

But what

  • ​if you've dead zones in your home or office space? Or areas where the Wifi signal sometimes works and sometimes doesn't?
  • And when you want to use your Mac, iPhone or iPad in that area. It's frustrating as the signal keeps cutting out.
  • You've thought about running cables but you really don't want to. Or you can't.
  • ​​And you'd like to backup your Macs over the air.

That's when the Apple Time Capsule 5th generation comes to the rescue.

The Apple Time Capsule folds into one device your Wifi router, and 2TB or 3TB of external storage.

Your Time Capsule acts as:

  • ​a Wifi router and booster for your Apple devices. Fantastic as it can extend the range of your Wifi network
  • a place where you can centrally store your files
  • a backup device. Use with Time Machine and your Apple Time Capsule can backup your Mac, or several Mac's over wifi
  • a support for a printer. Put a printer on its USB 2.0 port and then its available to you as a network printer. Or
    put on an extra external hard drive. Handy as then you can attach more storage. Storage that you can use on your home network
  • Its USB 2.0 port can support a printer that is then available as a network printer or
  • the USB port can support an additional external hard drive that is then also available as networked storage.
  • and can extend the range of your wifi network

Why not check on the price of the Apple Airport Time Capsule 2TB

Benefit Tear Down of the Apple Time Capsule

​When Apple gets into an area there is no doubt that they do an excellent job.

The Apple Time Capsule is easy to use. And ok, it may not be the cheapest device you'll ever buy. But when you buy Apple, what you buy will look good and just work.

With the Airport Time Capsule Apple doesn't disappoint.

Apple Time Capsule Wifi Range and Speed

The Apple Time Capsule offers Wifi coverage on 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz frequency bands. Which means it will work with your older 2.4 GHz needing devices and your newer 5 GHz ones.

The Time Capsule 5th generation is a true Airport Extreme device. It raises its network credentials by increasing the number of antennas you have to six.

And relocating them at the top of the Time Capsule for better Wifi range. 

You'll have three antennae for 5 GHz. And three for 2.4 Ghz. And there you have it. Your Apple Time Capsule is a true dual-band router able to send  and receive on both bands at the same time. Supporting your Wifi devices, new and old.

The Time Capsule uses something called beamforming in its antenna array. 

This means your Apple Time Capsule works out where your 802.11ac device is. And then it targets its Wifi signal to it.

Meaning you get a stronger and more consistent signal. Clever eh.

UnBoxing The Time Capsule YouTube Video

If you're curious about what comes in the box, I've found for you a cute 1 minute 53 seconds unboxing video on YouTube. Why not take a peek.

Airport Time Capsule 3TB Unboxing

Video Credit: hashtag it

Time Capsule's Better Wifi Speed Support for Your Apple Family

The latest range of Apple: 

  • Macbook, Macbook Pro,
  • iMac,
  • iPad Pro, iPad, iPad Mini 4
  • IPhone,
  • iPod Touch,  
  • Apple TV 4K

They'll support the faster 802.11ac Wifi networking. And for your slightly older Apple devices the Airport Time Capsule supports 802.11 a, b, g and n standards.

So your family's Apple devices can play.

Not only that your Time Capsule's top tier 802.11ac standard gives you 1.3 Gbps wireless data speeds. That is 3 x faster then 802.11n.

These speeds are only available to 802.11ac capable devices at a 5 GHz frequency.

For your 802.11n machines, The Airport Time Capsule offers you 450 Mbps data speeds.

And you need to keep in mind that your real Wifi speeds will go up and down. So can be lower than the headline speeds you see here.

Users who have an Airport Time Capsule rave about its Wifi speed. And its superior Wifi coverage and reliability.

Pairing the new 802.11ac Wifi standard with 802.11ac enabled clients unlocks the Time Capsule's most notable feature ... Time Capsule boasts the fastest wireless data speeds.

Apple Time Capsule Sleek Design

You'll be happy to put this device on display in your home. And there aren't many Wifi routers and storage devices you could say that about.

The Airport Time Capsule's footprint is 6.6” height x 3.85" x 3.85”. Which is a change from the square flatter shape of the older generations.

Apple used a top-down minimalist design. They reduced the Apple Time Capsule's footprint while retaining its attractive style. The 75% footprint reduction doesn’t affect its features. And that is thanks to the smart placement of the ports and the powerful internal hard drive.

You'll see on the front of the Apple Time Capsule, a status light that glows green when everything is as it should be. But glows amber when there's a problem.

What the status light glows and responds to you can configure. This means you can decide what the device tells you through its LED lights. A nice touch.

Connecting Your Apple Time Capsule

For Networking

On the back you'll find four ports.

The 5th generation has its ports stacked vertically. When compared to the previous horizontal set up).

Apple Time Capsule 3TB Ports

Apple Time Capsule 3TB Ports

You have three Gigabit LAN ports. For direct connection your Mac and any wired clients want. There is one WAN port for connection to your Internet source.

Every port is gigabit-compatible with up to 1,000 Mbps data speeds.

The Airport Time Capsule has a built in firewall. Giving you protection you from any nastie hackers over the Internet. But you can't configure the firewall yourself.

Some users have found that frustrating.

For More Devices on your Apple Time Capsule

You'll find a single USB port.

Apple using the USB 2.0 standard for this port is a bit of a disappointment. The faster USB 3.0 standard would have been a more modern, better choice.

But the Airport Time Capsule 2TB and 3TB sized options allows you to connect their USB port to a USB printer.

And then you have a networked shareable printer.

Or you can connect the USB port to an external hard drive for even more storage (see below).

Finally at the front you'll find the power port. And right beside that is your reset button. Should you ever need to reset your Apple Time Capsule.

The Apple Time Capsule is going away. But before you think about buying a wireless external hard drive. Take a look at my article about the current wireless drives.

Expanding Your Time Capsule Storage

The USB port on the Airport Time Capsule allows you to add storage by connecting an external hard drive.

Yes, it is a USB 2.0 port. And many of the external hard drives you can buy now support USB 3.0. But backwards compatibility means you can put those drives on the Time Capsule as well.

Your Time Capsule will talk to those external drives at USB 2.0 speed.

​You can store more documents, photos, music, whatever you want.

And use the external hard drive as a network storage resource for all your Macs on your home or office network.

Note that:

​Any external drive you put onto the USB 2.0 port must be already formatted to Mac OS Extended (Journaled) file system.

​Or partitioned to have ExFAT partitions. You'll need ExFAT if you want to support Windows PCs and share files between Mac and Windows users.

Connect up the external hard drive to your Mac first, format and or partition then connect to the Apple Time Capsule and you are good to go.

You can learn how to set up an external hard drive in my article here.

Can You Use Your Time Capsule as an External Hard Drive?

Yes, and after its great Wifi performance this is its second main benefit.

The 2TB drive and the Apple Time Capsule 3TB version contain a server grade hard drive. What is the significance of this?

Server grade means your Time Capsule's internal 2TB or 3TB drive is robust.  And seems to have proven itself as such in the field.

This is just as well as the Apple Time Capsule’s design does not allow for parts replacement. Or service repair by the user.

In that area it's like most of Apple's other products.

But you may find this a flaw if you're a user who likes to crack open their gear. And get in to upgrade or change parts. 

​But if that doesn't deter you. And you’re the type who likes stylish design on all your Mac’s accessories. Even the ones that are usually hidden under the table. Then the Airport Time Capsule is a great buy.

Find Out What Other Users think and Say about the Airport Time Capsule

It's always worth taking a look at what others say about the Time Capsule.

I've provided a link here to the Apple Time Capsule page on Amazon.

You can click on the link and scroll down to the bottom of the page to take a look at the Reviews.

How do you use a Time Capsule?

You can configure Time Capsule on your iPhone

You can configure Time Capsule on your iPhone

Set Up

You'll find the set up easy. Airport Time Capsule needs the Apple software AirPort Utility. You use Airport Utility to set up, manage and configure the device.

Airport Utility is standard in Mac OS on your Mac. And you can freely downloaded it from the App Store for IOS for your iPhone or iPad.

It is also on the Apple App store for free download, for your Windows PC.

And the beauty is that you can use an iPad, iPhone or iPad Touch to set up and manage the Airport Time Capsule. And it is as easy to use on a iMac or Macbook or Windows PC.

Once you connect your Airport Time Capsule to the Internet and mains power it will boot up. It boots up in a default configuration.

You start up your Airport Utility software on your Mac or Windows PC.

You'll need your Mac or PC's Wifi turned on.

Then you pretty much follow the prompts to install the Time Capsule.

I have an article on how to do that here.

Airport Time Capsule for File Storage or Backups

You can decide how you want to use your Apple Time Capsule,

  • as extra space for file storage
  • as a backup location for Time Machine
  • as a shared drive for Mac, IOS or Windows PC
  • Partitioned up for either of the above options

It's truly flexible.

The Airport Time Capsule connects with Time Machine for Mac users.

It's so simple to set up.

Once set up, backups are automatic over your Wifi. You need do nothing more.

Sync your IOS tech to your Mac. And then your Airport Time Capsule backs up your IOS devices as well over Wifi.

Apple Time Capsule Remote File and Printer Sharing

Back to My Mac is an interesting feature. It's for you if you to access your files on your Mac when you are out and about and connected to the Internet.

You enable it in both Time Machine and on your Mac.

How you find it performs will depend on the speed of network have at home. And the speed of the one you're.

And there is the tricky question. How comfortable are you opening up your network to the Internet. Even when it's managed by your Apple Time Capsule. 

Those issues aside it’s a pretty good feature.

And means that when your desperate to get to that document and you know its on the Time Capsule at home. You can just download it.

You should note that no support for media streaming. Or FTP offered by the Back to My Mac on the Airport Time Capsule.

Apple Time Capsule Guest Networking

You'll wonder how you did without guest networking when you use it on the Airport Time Capsule.

You can create a guest login and password. And hey presto your guests access to the Wifi and the Internet.

And with no access to your computers and the files on your network.

Means clever youngsters visiting your home can't get to stuff they shouldn't be seeing.

 And there is no need for you to share your own Wifi login with your visitors.
Time Capsule on a Network

Expanding and Extending Your Wifi Range

You've the ability to daisy chain Airport Time Capsules together. Why is that useful?

Because this allows you to expand or extend the range of your Wifi.

It's how you can cover those Wifi dead zones or those difficult areas you've on your property.

You could even extend your Wifi out to the back yard or garden.

Happen to have your home office or den down the bottom of your garden?

Why not use the Time Capsule to cover it. ...

​I have an article that discusses extending and expanding the Time Capsule's Wifi.

​You can find it here.

How do I Access My Time Capsule?

Using Your Time Capsule to Store Your Documents on

You can drag and drop or copy and paste your files to the Time Capsule.

Just as you would to your Mac's internal drive.

And if you want to share files with a Windows PC.  Create an ExFAT partition on the Airport Time Capsule to store the files you want.

And then drag and drop there.

Then you make that partition shareable. And both your Macs and Windows PCs can see it.

Time Capsule for Backup

Time Capsule for Backup

Using Your Time Capsule For Backup With Time Machine

It's simple to do and a strength of the Time Capsule

Once your Apple Time Capsule is up and running join it up to Time Machine on your Mac.

​You do this by going into Time Machine preferences on your Mac.

Your Mac will see the Time Capsule on the network and then you can click to use it as your backup device. ​You'll find an article on the site that goes into this in more detail.

IPhone and iPad with Time Capsule

Your IOS devices can't backup to Airport Time Capsule directly.

IPhones and iPads need to be first backed up to a Mac with iTunes.

​And then when Airport Time Capsule backs up your Mac, your mobile devices are backed up.

Airport Time Capsule Review Last Words

I hope you'll agree that the Apple Time Capsule sounds like a great product. And it's a pity that Apple has decided to stop making it.

The Apple Time Capsule 2TB and its bigger brother the Time Capsule 3TB works great with Time Machine.

Time Capsule is also excellent as a Wifi base station, thanks to its 802.11ac Wifi networking.

And there is nothing to stop you getting a second Time Capsule. Then you can daisy chain them for extra backup and file storage.

Unless you move soon to get one you'll be reliant on finding a refurbished or second user Time Capsule.

W​ondering about the other wireless external hard drives out there on the market? Take a look at my post Wireless External Hard Drives For Mac Need to Knows Before You Buy.