Forum Question: Get Time Capsule To Back Up a Connected External Hard Drive?

I would like to use Time Capsule as my Time Machine backup drive. Can I make Time Machine recognize an external hard disk that is connected to the USB port of the same Time Capsule that I am using for Time Machine backups? I am trying to set up my system where my iTunes & iPhoto reside on the external drive connected to Time Capsule so I can access them wirelessly, but I also want Time Machine to recognize and back up that drive. If there is a way to do this, it certainly isn’t obvious.
Mike Kischuck

Comments: 13 Responses to “Get Time Capsule To Back Up a Connected External Hard Drive?”

    6/24/12 @ 1:17 pm

    Good question, but I don’t have an answer for you as I don’t use that configuration.
    One word of advice: Don’t put your iPhoto collection on a networked drive like that. When you browse your photos in iPhoto it is accessing the files at a very high data rate to allow you to scroll through them. Having them on a wifi drive will make it too slow to be useful.
    iTunes, on the other hand, works fine. You don’t “see” the music all at once, so it can stream those files from a wifi drive without much issue.
    So if you only put your iTunes connection on a wifi drive, then just back it up manually every once in a while to another drive. Or, if you use iTunes Match, then you don’t need to worry about it.

      Seth R.
      2/4/13 @ 8:04 am

      I have a MBP with 256GB (just bought) and a TC 2TB (just bought). I wanted to move files onto either externals and or TCs as space is an issues. I assume from your post that photos need to be directly connected (via external) but itunes is okay (through TC)?

      I really wanted a networked based solution so I can move my MBP around (and be remote). Any other suggestions? How about Mac Mini?

      Also, any insight to the other questions about backing up an external connected to the TC?


        2/4/13 @ 8:12 am

        Use your TC as your backup. Get an external for storage. I wouldn’t recommend using it as both.
        How about the cloud? Use iTunes Match for music, for instance. If you have a lot of photos, then it was probably not a good idea to get a Mac with so little storage. Though 256GB can still store a lot of photos. I have more than 15,000 photos and videos in my iPhoto collection, and it is only about 67GB.
        External drive should back up with Time Machine fine. Just check to make sure.

    9/26/12 @ 2:15 pm

    I’ve been trying to set up my Time Capsule the same way. Ideally would use the TC hard drive as the backup drive, and then plug in an external drive to the TC USB port and use that as a wireless media storage device for photos, movies and music.

    I have been doing a lot of research on this topic and so far it appears that Time Capsule treats the USB connected hard drive as a “shared” network drive. It will not back this drive up as far as I can tell.

    If you happen to find a solution, please post it here. Thanks.

      9/26/12 @ 2:35 pm

      Another problem is with photos — using iPhoto with a library on a network drive is problematic because scrolling through your photos requires a lot of data transfer.

        9/26/12 @ 3:07 pm

        I have not even tried dealing with iPhoto with that configuration yet, because I was trying to first see if Time capsule would even back it up before i transfered all my data.

        I would not mind a performance hit if the set up could work as I wanted.

        Basically I have a mac book pro that ran out of hard disk space. Trying to find a way to store media wirelessly AND have the capability to back it all up.

        If you have any setup ideas, Id love to know. Thanks again.

          9/26/12 @ 3:32 pm

          The way I do it is I have a central Mac (Mac Pro, the one I use most) with multiple drives. It is always on, and I can grab anything I want from it from anywhere. All of those drives get backed up via Time Machine to yet another drive (attached directly to the machine for greater speed) and remotely with an online backup provider.

            9/27/12 @ 6:45 am

            That makes sense. I guess Id have to use my current mac book pro with external drives attached as my “central” mac, and add a macbook air or something similar to the mix. I was trying to avoid purchasing another laptop but it might just be time.

    David G
    11/23/12 @ 4:30 pm

    I have a Time Capsule that is backing up my Macpro. The TC is now full and my MP is running slow. Is there a way to backup the TC and clear it out for more data? I understand the TC sheds it off but i dont want to lose whats on the TC now. Also you mentioned to leave pictures on MP but music can be stored elsewhere. So, can I plug in a desttop external harddrive into the TC port and have access to music wirelessly? Will that same external harddrive backup my TC so that i wont lose data?

      11/23/12 @ 9:34 pm

      Let Time Machine manage the drive. Don’t try to clear things out yourself. TM doesn’t work that way. As long as the drive is larger than the data you want backed up, the it will keep at least one copy of everything.
      As for photos, if you want to store them externally, hook the external directly to your Mac, not to TC. If you hook it to your TC, then it will be slow as it has to access the photos over the network. But try to keep them on the internal if possible.

    David G
    11/24/12 @ 10:38 am

    Thank you for your response. Time machine is on but internal Hard drive is full as well as 500GB time capsule. Macpro is running slow. I disconnected the TC to prevent TC from shedding off data that I dont want to lose. Im trying to resolve backup issues before i plug TC back in.
    I read that some users are plugging in an external Hard drive into the USB port on TC to access pictures and music. – Your video clearly explains why NOT to access pictures that way. How about music? My question is: If I plug in a 3TB external hard drive into my TC will it give me wireless access to my music as well as give the TC more space? Certainly appreciate your input for resolve.

      11/24/12 @ 3:07 pm

      I doubt your Mac Pro running slow is related.
      Time Machine keep at least the most recent backup of every file. It only deletes older versions of files, not the current one. So you don’t need to worry about it “shedding data.” That’s not how Time Machine works.
      You can put music on a second drive connected to your TC, but that would only make a real difference if you have a massive music collection. I consider my collection to be large (6,000 songs) but that still only takes up 22GB, which would be less than 5% of a 500GB drive.
      But adding an extra drive won’t expand your TC backup drive at all. It is a separate drive. It sounds like you have a lot of questions and misconceptions about Time Machine, Time Capsule and how backups work. Perhaps a visit to the Apple store and a conversation there would help clear these up more easily.

        3/5/13 @ 6:01 pm

        To answer some questions here:
        * If you directly connect an external hard drive to the TC, you can access it remotely, but time machine will not back it up, it will simply be a storage space now accessible on your home network
        * If you plug an external hard drive via USB into a computer that is using time machine (in conjunction with a time capsule) to be backed up, both your computer AND the external drive will be backed up by time machine

        Hope this helps!

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