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Time Capsule for $25 (Using Raspbery Pi) (garmoncheg.blogspot.com)
43 points by garmoncheg 1574 days ago | hide | past | web | 36 comments | favorite

"Time Capsule for $25"

A naked Raspberry Pi costs $35. Add an enclosure and shipping, it will be closer to $60. That doesn't include storage.

Time Capsule contains a 2TB hard disk. The same WD drive retails for $170 at Amazon.

That brings our total to $230, for a product that doesn't work nearly as well as a real Time Capsule and for which you won't receive service and support from Apple.

Or you can just buy a Time Capsule for $299: http://store.apple.com/us/product/MD032/time-capsule-2tb

I think your HD price is off, and time capsules have not had a history of reliability.

However, I've also run a linux/netatalk box, back in the snow-leopard days. It did "work", but things would get screwed up for me if I ever closed my laptop whenever a backup was in progress.

I ended up using an airport extreme for time-machine backups. It works well. I have it connected to a Sabio raid box[1].

I don't think apple advertises that the extreme works for time-machine, but it's basically plug-n-play type setup. No hackery required. Just an external disk with USB connectivity.

[1] http://www.sabioproducts.com/products?page=shop.product_deta...

The title of the article is wrong,but otherwise it's very useful - I had a spare 500GB drive laying around and a Pi for which I had no major use and now I use it as a Time Capsule on a daily basis without spending a penny on top of what I already spent on hardware which I wasn't using anyway.

I agree with your analysis, and that doesn't even include the value of your time.

However Time Capsules run hot and have a nasty habit of burning out every two years or so. I presume the Pi + external drive would run cooler and have a much longer life.

Yup. I bought the original 500GB Time Capsule, the power supply died after 18 months. Apple replaced my Time Capsule for free. This one has been working fine since November of 2009, but I'll never trust it to be my only way of performing backups.

Time Capsule Memorial Register: http://timecapsuledead.org/

Time Capsule is a very convenient way to use Time Machine, and it works great until it dies. Judging from the other comments, that's the difference with the Raspberry solution, which apparently isn't very reliable and doesn't allow for HFS+ with Journaling.

As already stated, the problem is that netatalk has trouble keeping the AFP protocol up to date. On the Linux box it doesn't make sense to use HFS since Ext3 is much more stable and also supports journaling...

Where are you getting $170 for a 2TB disk? Amazon has 3TB disks for $130.

This whole conversation is kind of strange, but let's play along anyway.

If you deal shop, you can get the price down:.

    [1] $40 Raspberry Pi - Model B, because that's all that's available (includes $5 shipping)
    [2] $10 Enclosure (some DIY required)
    [3] $116 WD 2TB Hard Drive (selected WD because that is [apparently] what Apple uses)
    Total: $166
That's an aggressive HD price, and remember, you need an external HDD. A lot of the pricing being thrown around here is for internal drives. Regular price on the drive I spec'd was $180. There are always deals to be had though. The price may be more depending on your timing.

The case I spec'd is extremely DIY as well. If you went with something nicer, you'd spend more as well. It's kind of hard to justify a crappy case when you're comparing to a Time Capsule.

So if you add in $20 for a HDD price not-so-on-sale and $10 for a nicer case (Adafruit is decent), you're looking at $196, which is edging up toward the cost of a Time Capsule, and that's not factoring in time for configuration.

The whole point here is that you don't do projects like this to save money. You do projects like this for the fun and learning experience, or to have greater control/flexibility. If you go in to this project to save money, then I think you're barking up the wrong tree.

1 - Pick a vendor any vendor (pricing is standard)

2 - http://blujay.com/item/Black-Electronic-Project-Box-100-x-60...

3 - http://www.amazon.com/Western-Digital-3-5-Inch-Internal-Desk...

> The whole point here is that you don't do projects like this to save money. You do projects like this for the fun and learning experience, or to have greater control/flexibility. If you go in to this project to save money, then I think you're barking up the wrong tree.

That was where I was leading it, yeah. Attacking it on a price basis just seems weird to me.

"Attacking it on a price basis just seems weird to me."

The title of the article is "Time Capsule for $25", so apparently the author thought the price is the main selling point. The actual price is way higher, he set himself up for someone to point that out.

When Hardmac did a teardown of the latest Time Capsule, they found it has a Western Digital WD20EARS hard disk. [0]

That drive is listed as $169 MSRP at Amazon. [1]

[0] http://www.engadget.com/2011/06/25/updated-time-capsule-open...

[1] http://www.amazon.com/Western-Digital-Caviar-Desktop-WD20EAR...

You might be seeing a premium price for discontinued hardware. The current lineup of WD Green 2TB drives are ~$100. There is no way for me to know if these are lower quality than the previous model or not.

Good point. I'm curious as to which HDD models Apple uses nowadays for their Time Capsule, that would allow for a better comparison. I couldn't find that information anywhere.

By the way, my first generation Time Capsule has a 500GB Seagate Barracuda ES, which used to retail for over $300.


At the introduction of the Time Capsule, it retailed for less than 100€.

That's how much the hard drive is now. That teardown was done before the Thailand floods, which I'd imagine are related to the current Amazon price. [1] The WD20EARS was only $100 well before that Time Capsule was released. [2]

[1] http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/28/us-thai-floods-dri...

[2] From my Amazon order history: http://i.imgur.com/lYYlR.png

Be warned. I used my Raspi with netatalk3 for a while, and it kept corrupting. I reverted to using an external drive on my Mac.

I second this warning. I've never used a Raspberry Pi, but I've used netatalk for years on a Linux server, and after I upgraded OS X 10.7, my backups to it would get corrupted once every month or two. I think it's not so bad if you have a wired connection, but wireless backups from a laptop (which can get put to sleep at any moment) just aren't reliable, for me at least. Also, it would constantly index my Time Machine backups over wireless, which takes forever and made my Macbook Air's fan turn on.

I suspect some of this is due to limitations in netatalk's AFP implementation, but I've never compared to a proper Time Capsule

Same here. Apple changed the AFP protocol in Lion and netatalk had trouble keeping up. But since my last update to netatalk 3.0.1 a month ago I have had no corruption. (I hope they finally got it right!) The initial backup and indexing is very painful indeed, but after that it works smoothly. (and without fan for my MacBook Air)

Aside from the nuisance of having to do a full copy, you end up losing your history beyond that point which really hurts when you try to use Time Machine to go back and retrieve something old.

Another part of it is that as far as I know, Linux does not support HFS+ journalling.

Neat writeup, now please please please search and replace "MAC" with "Mac" so it doesn't look like it's all about Ethernet hardware addressing or cosmetics? ;)

I was actually thrown off for a second by the capitalization and possessive apostrophes.

It's almost like he didn't have a tech literate editor to fix his fuckups.

There is no need to use the buggy HFS instead of the stable Ext3 on Linux. The backup will be in a disk image anyway...

Buggy or no, Ext3 is still the better option for linux when doing network shares for other operating systems since it's pretty transparent anyways.

It should be noted that journaling on the HFS volume should be off or the Raspberry pi will not be able to write to it. When I set this up @ home, I formatted the disk in OS X first with journaling off, and then connected it to the RSBPi. Very effective, cheap backup solution. You can also then use crashplan to upload your backups to the cloud as the RSBPi receives them.

Two weeks too late, I set my Raspberry Pi to serve as a Time Machine all by myself using Raspbian, and boy, it was a massive pain.

As for people saying that the complete setup is almost as expensive as an actual TimeCapsule - yes,but then I had a spare 500GB drive laying around,and had no special use for my Raspberry Pi. Thanks to this both of them are used on a daily basis.

Time capsules of any sort just aren't so useful anymore. They work fine most of the time, but they get inconvenient when you have to reinstall or migrate to a new machine. If you end up doing so and have to re-establish your backup, it might take 12 or 18 hours or more to do that! Add in the Time Machine memory leak, and Time Machine/Capsule no longer makes much sense.

You could rig up something similar for Windows 8 using this hardware, Samba, and Windows 8's File History [1] feature, which is similar to Time Machine.

1. http://www.hanselman.com/blog/Windows8Step0TurnOnContinuousB...

While a useful feature, it's only remotely similar in that it keeps an incremental history of selected user folders, whereas Time Machine backups all files and gives you a 1:1 (file-level, as opposed to block-level, like dd/carbon-copy-cloner/ghost) image of your computer, including the OS.

Great timing on this post! It reminded me to check on the status of OpenWRT 12.09, and I see that the first release candidate came out a week ago ago. 12.09 includes a netatalk 3 package. If like me you have a wireless router with USB ports, OpenWRT should provide a great platform for building your own "time capsule".

The actual read/write speed should be awfully slow. His screenshot estimates that 322mb will be transferring 18hours!

I use this and transfer speeds are around 5-6MB/s. That's because both the hard drive and Ethernet share the USB bus. And it's completely fine, took around 6 hours to backup 90GB from my MacBook Air.

It is 357GB total that it is backing up that will take 18 hours. :)

oh, you'r right, it's my mistake

laptop backup is done over wifi right ? wouldn't that be the limiting factor ?

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