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Time Capsule Hard Drive Upgrades

Apple’s Time Capsule was released in 2007 in 500GB and 1TB capacities which were, at the time, sufficiently capacious to accommodate backups of most anyone’s Mac or Macs. Today, Apple sells Time Capsule in 1TB and 2TB configurations with substantially improved wireless speed due to compliance with the 802.11n standard, not just the draft standard.

With current generation iMacs standard storage starting at 500GB, and more and more laptops with 500GB and larger drives, 1TB is no longer enough for everyone. I bought a 500GB Small Dog Refurbished 500GB Time Capsule and quickly filled it with backups from my MacBook Pro. When my girlfriend bought a new iMac to replace her aging PowerBook running MacOS X 10.4 (Tiger), the added strain of an another Time Machining Mac made 500GB downright unusable.

I didn’t want to shell out for a whole new Time Capsule, so I asked Google how to replace the internal drive in a time capsule. I found an excellent guide that explained that the server-grade drive that Apple ships in their Time Capsule is not entirely necessary, and that an energy-efficient, lower-RPM drive would put less strain on the internal power supply and reduce the strain on the small internal fan. I picked up a 1.5TB 3.5-inch SATA hard drive (though 2TB would work just as well).

The first step is to remove the rubbery bottom of the time capsule, which is kept in place with some very sticky adhesive. Rebecca suggested I use the original drive for some time to warm the adhesive, but in the end a heat gun was necessary to cleanly remove it. This reveals ten phillips screws holding on the bottom plate, which comes right off. Once inside, it’s quite obvious how to proceed. Be careful of the temperature sensor, which must be removed without damaging its cable. The SATA power and data cable must be carefully unplugged from the main board inside.

Once you’ve installed the new drive, button the Time Capsule back up, and fire up AirPort Utility, you’ll be guided through the process of formatting the new drive. All told, the process took about twenty minutes, but as you probably know from experience, the initial backup took all day. Instead of 100GB free, I now have well over 1000GB free – plenty of space for my girlfriend’s and my backups!

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