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Apple Time Capsule: What is it and why would I need it?

Time Capsule is a device made by Apple that was released onto the market in early 2008. Currently on its fourth generation, the Time Capsule is an out of the box appliance that acts as a residential gateway router and network-attached storage. Apple describes it as “automatic wireless backup for your Mac” and it works in tandem with Time Machine in OS X. So what exactly does it do and do you need one?
Backing up your files is paramount and with the Time Capsule this task will be done automatically and constantly. Depending on the model, it includes a wireless 2 TB or 3 TB hard drive (the former is $299 and the latter $499) which will work with Time Machine on OS X Leopard and beyond. Simply assign the Time Capsule as the primary backup drive and you’re good to go. The initial backup may take some time, varying on how much data you have, so it’s recommended that you perform this initial backup via Ethernet cable to speed it up. However, after that you can do the backups wirelessly, and the Time Capsule will only backup files that have been modified. By default, all of this is done in the background every hour automatically, meaning that you can go about your daily business in the comfort that you’ve got file security. The great thing is that the backup disks that can be created are compatible with Windows, meaning that your files aren’t tied down to the Mac operating system – a great bonus if you have multiple operating systems in the office.
The Time Capsule will especially come in handy if you have multiple Mac computers. As long as the systems are running OS X Leopard or later then you will be able to back up and store files on the wireless network. This means that you will be able to unify your back up plan (providing all your computers are running Mac) and do away with individual external hard drives. The Time Capsule has four Gigabit Ethernet ports and also a USB port to share devices over the network, like a printer. There is also a fileserver that has support for both AFP and SMB, meaning that there is network access to files on the built-in hard drive (previously an Apple MobileMe account was required, but this has since been changed).
Providing all your systems run on Mac operating systems, the Time Capsule works great as a unified back up system due to its simplicity and ease of use. The fact that it automatically backs up any file that is changed is a brilliant peace of mind. And the ability to add extra devices in like printers and share them wirelessly across the network is great for management. The included 2 or 3 TB storage space on the hard drive should be enough for the majority of small to medium sized businesses. Although customization is limited (this is an Apple product, after all), the Time Capsule does its job and does it well.


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