Apple: No Time Machine-AirPort Extreme fix for you

Leopard update doesn't add wireless backup via Time Machine as users had hoped.

Disappointed Mac users confirmed that Apple's latest Leopard update does not let them back up with Time Machine to drives plugged into an Airport Extreme router.

"On 10.5.2, my [AirPort] Disk is NOT available to Time Machine," reported a user named Jespes on an Apple support forum. "I can access the [disk] from the Finder, but Time Machine doesn't see it." Others on that thread, and elsewhere on Apple's forums, echoed Jespes' findings.

Last month, some users had held out hope that Apple would make Leopard's Time Machine backup application compatible with the AirPort Extreme's AirPort Disk, a feature that lets users attach an external USB drive to the router and access that disk via the wireless network. The hope had been fueled by rumors on several Apple enthusiast sites that a fix was among the scores slated for the 10.5.2 upgrade.

People who bought AirPort Extreme Base Stations before Leopard's October 2007 release were particularly incensed when CEO Steve Jobs introduced the Time Capsule backup appliance at Macworld Expo last month. Before Leopard's launch, Apple had said that Time Machine would work with AirPort drives.

Time Capsule, essentially an AirPort Extreme wedded to a 500GB or 1TB drive, fills the niche that Apple originally said would be served by the Time Machine-AirPort Extreme combination. Time Capsule is scheduled to ship this month in two models, priced at $299 and $499.

After Time Capsule's introduction, users rued their purchases of AirPort Extreme, calling themselves "one of the suckers" and saying "I feel like I been had."

Some still hope for an eventual fix that would make their AirPort Extreme-USB drive setups the equivalent of Time Capsule, and noted that a patch might come in the form of a firmware update to the router. On a different support thread, for example, someone using the alias "dchao99" said, "10.5.2 OS X update is not going to fix all the bugs between the Mac and AEBS [AirPort Extreme Base Station]. Because the 7.2.1 firmware on AEBS is also buggy. And we are still waiting for the AEBS update."

The Leopard update did, however, include several other improvements to Time Machine, the most visible of which added a menu bar option for the backup program. Apple's list of 10.5.2 enhancements also spelled out multiple changes to the AirPort wireless technology, including improved connection reliability.

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Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
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