Time Machine now works with Airport Extreme USB Disks

It’s official, you can now use Time Machine with a USB drive attached to your Airport Extreme, don’t rush out and buy a Time Capsule just yet! You can even have multiple USB drives connected to a USB hub and use a different drive for different computers.

Apple have released several updates for the Airport Utility, Time Machine and Airport Disks.

Apple annoyed a large number of Airport Extreme owners when they released the final version of Leopard with Time Machine. Beta versions of the operating system allowed Time Machine to select a USB hard drive connected to the Airport Extreme Base (AEB) station as its target drive. By the time the final release of Leopard hit the streets, this functionality had been stripped out and you could only use Time Machine with a USB hard drive connected directly to your machine or with the up-coming new Time Capsules, which in essence are just an Airport Extreme with a SATA hard drive strapped into the unit.

Many people came up with “fixes” or “tweaks” to get Time Machine working with their AEB but I decided I’d fork out for a new Time Capsule. Fortunately for me my local Apple reseller still hasn’t had any Time Capsules delivered, and with the latest firmware update for my AEB I’ll be saving my pennies for something else as I have all the Time Capsule features with my Airport Extreme now.

First thing is to run the software update utility and download all the updates, which will then require a restart. It’s quite important that you restart at this stage.

After restarting, go to Applications->Utilities and open up the Airport Utility. This should then show a list of all available Base stations and then alert you that updates are available for selected devices:

By default it should select all the relevant devices, but if you have any devices in the list that aren’t currently powered on, tick all the other boxes just to download the firmware for the future. It should then begin to download the selected firmware:

Once the download is complete it will inform you that it’s ready to update your device:

You are then prompted to enter the Airport Extreme Base station’s password:

The update should then start, ensure you do not power off your computer or base station during the update:

You get a progress bar showing the status of the upgrade:

Once the upgrade is complete your AEB will restart itelf so have some patience:

You are then taken back to the main Airport Utility screen where your AEB should now be showing up as version 7.3.1:

That’s it done. Prior to updating the Airport Firmware to 7.3.1, the screen to select the Time Machine disk looked like this:

After the update, I connected a small 40GB USB disk to my Airport Extreme and the list now looks like (ignore the orange 80GB drive that’s another drive connected directly to my Mac Pro):

See the bottom entry….Untitled (Scoopz Airport Extreme). Thanks Apple!

I decided to check everything works ok and let it try and Time Machine my MacPro to the tiny 40GB hard drive even though I need 600GB minimum. Sure enough it started to backup before presenting me with an error stating my disk is full:

All I need to do now is buy a large USB drive and I’m all set.

I have just dug out an old USB hub and connected that to the USB port on the Airport Extreme. I then connected the 40GB drive and a 280GB drive and when choosing a Time Machine location you can choose from either of the connected drives. This is ideal for me as I can now use up all the smaller drives I have lying around and have a dedicated wireless TimeMachine drive for my MacBook Air, one for my MacBook Pro and I’ll need to get a bigger one for  my Mac Pro.

iPhone 1.1.4 update released to fix bugs

Apple have been quick to release a firmware update v 1.1.4 for the iPhone yesterday.

The firmware is supposed to address some of the “bugs” introduced with 1.1.3 such as the SMS sorting bug and wifi connectivity problems. 1.1.4 is also rumoured to contain the framework to allow 3rd party application to be installed without the need to hack/jailbreak your iPhone. Some of these 3rd party apps and games will be made available for download from the iTunes store in due course.I am currently updating my iPhone to 1.1.4 as I type and shall hopefully report back with some good news on bug fixes……

…..140MB download and 5 minutes install time later….

1.1.4 has successfully downloaded and been installed on my iPhone. I didn’t encounter any errors, warnings, or weirdness (using iTunes 7.6.1(9) under OS X 10.5.2)

Unlike 1.1.3 there aren’t any NEW features  for those of you who are looking, but I have checked on the SMS sorting bug by sending myself a series of SMS in a short period of time and I’m happy to report it works as expected now.  I didn’t have any SMS conversations saved that were in a mess from 1.1.3 so if anybody reading this has a conversation that was in the wrong order could you please have a look at it after updating to 1.1.4 and report back in the comments section below?

There haven’t been any immediate issues with wifi connectivity either which is promising. If you’ve read my post about wifi problems with 1.1.3 you’ll be aware that there were problems as soon as the phone had finished updating to 1.1.3. One person has so far reported that under 1.1.4 his wifi issues are almost resolved but the widgets (stocks/weather) are unable to update when connected to wifi. I have just done some thorough testing of stocks and weather running under 1.1.4 connected to my Airport Extreme and can report I have no problems.


  • SMS Sorting Bug = FIXED
  • Wifi connectivity = FIXED (no problems for me at least)

AppleTV update adds Airtunes! AppleTV now appears as speakers in iTunes

Having successfully updated my AppleTV the other day, I noticed something new in iTunes….

Along with my local “Computer” speakers and Airport Express “Lounge” speakers that I used to have in iTunes

the AppleTV now appeared in the drop down list of available speakers to stream music to:

I hit play in iTunes and selected the AppleTV speakers from the selection box, after a few seconds pause to connect with the AppleTV, my song started streaming through the TV speakers and surround system in my lounge.

This is great news for me as I only purchased my Airport Express to stream music to the Lounge since the AppleTV didn’t have Airtunes functionality. Now I can remove the Airport Express and put that into the kitchen, and I was about to buy another Airport Express just for that so I’ve saved £70 thanks to Apple’s free update.

There is an new option page in the AppleTV settings for Airtunes allowing you to turn the feature on/off and also set an Airtunes password:

If you have your TV turned on and showing the AppleTV source, when you change tracks on your computer/laptop and stream to the Apple TV Airtunes speakers the corresonding track name and album art are shown on the TV as if you were selecting and playing the music from the Apple TV.