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Apple’s Time Capsule back-up drive is nothing new really, but Apple has announced a refresh to the product line. Until now you could get a 1TB or 2TB Time Capsule, but now the 1TB unit has been discontinued and a 3TB unit has been announced. So, now you have to choose either the 2TB or 3TB unit.
Time Capsule prices haven’t exactly changed, but because capacity has increased across the board, it’s basically the same as a price drop. You now get a 2TB unit for $299 instead of 1TB, and you get a 3TB unit for $499 instead of 2TB. So the 2TB unit costs $150 per TB, while the 3TB unit costs $166 per TB. Clearly the 2TB unit is a better value, but it’s not enough of a price difference to be the sole consideration in buying one. If you have enough data, or nearly enough data, to fill a 2TB unit, then you should absolutely go with the 3TB unit even though you’ll be paying a premium to get it.
The Time Capsule is a wireless hard drive with a built-in 802.11n wireless router that’s also compatible with 802.11a/b/g gear, so you can use it as a wireless backup drive and also as the heart of a wireless network. A USB port on the Time Capsule lets you share a printer on your wireless network. You can also set up a guest network, with or without a password, to allow guests to use your Internet connection. Note that some Wi-Fi devices operate in the 2.4 GHz band while others can use either the 2.4 GHz or the 5 GHz band. But the Time Capsule simultaneously uses both bands for maximum performance.
The Time Capsule works in conjunction with Apple’s Time Machine back-up software, which is part of Mac OS X Leopard and later. All you have to do is set Time Machine to use the Time Capsule as the designated backup drive and you’re all set. The initial backup can take several hours, depending on how much data you’re backing up, but after that only files that have changed are backed up so it happens very fast. The process is completely transparent to the user.
Time Capsule and Time Machine go together like green eggs and ham, but you don’t have to run Time Machine to use Time Capsule. In fact you don’t even have to use a Mac. Time Capsule mounts as a simple wireless hard drive, so Windows users can also access it from a wireless network.