Back in about February 2010 our 18 month old, out of warranty, Time Capsule died. One moment it was working, the next it wasn’t.
And with it, our wireless Internet was gone, and that was a big deal. I had a lot of work on at the time, all Internet-based, and being offline wasn’t an option. I gritted my teeth and went out to buy a new Time Capsule.
Once I had the new one home I tried swapping the power cords to see if that would revive the dead one. It didn’t.
The Wellington Apple repair mess
If you’re in the US and reading this, you’re probably wondering why I didn’t take the dead one down to the nearest Apple Store and Genius Bar to get a diagnosis and repair. Well, the Apple service and support situation in Wellington, New Zealand is dire and I needed Internet.
You see there’s now really only one option for technical support here, from a firm called Magnum Mac — there are no Apple Stores in New Zealand. The last time I bought anything or tried to use their ‘service’ was several years ago when they were arrogant, condescending, unhelpful, rude and unfriendly.
Things may well have changed since then, but that’s when they lost me as a customer. Based on previous experience I fully expected that if I tried to get support for the dead device they would:
- Accept it into their queue to be looked at eventually, with no ability to ‘book it in’. It could be weeks before they looked at it.
- Charge me at least $100 to tell me what I already knew: it didn’t work.
- Almost certainly tell me it would cost way too much to repair.
So, why bother? I put the dead one on a shelf and resolved to do something about it later.
A common problem
It seems it was a common problem for Time Capsules to die at around 18 months. I asked for and was promised a refund when Apple eventually instituted a refund programme. I have yet to see the funds, in spite of a recent follow-up call from me to them. The representative I spoke to told me I didn’t need to hand in the dead device.
The lost photos
Who knows what my partner did, but a few days ago she told me she no longer had treasured photos from her trip to Japan a few years ago. After checking various other possible backups with no success I realised there probably were backup copies on the dead Time Capsule disc, as it had died before various other changes of computer.
I extracted the drive
It was time to see if I could access the drive. I generally avoid any computer work that involves a screwdriver, but there was much to gain and little to lose. I cautiously followed the instructions at both AppleFritter: Cracking Open the Time Capsule and iFixIT: Replacing Apple Time Capsule HDD. (Thanks for the link and the idea to extract the drive @kb.)
Eventually I had the drive out in one piece. Then I located a currently functioning spare external hard drive, as per my first photo above, and tried slipping the TC drive into its case.
It didn’t work. The case for the current drive didn’t have the right kind of cabling. I did try plugging in the power supply from the case to the TC drive which powered on, so that was a good sign.
Knowing the drive itself would power up meant I still had a chance of looking at the data on it. Now I needed the right enclosure, with the right connections.
A new enclosure rescued the drive
The Time Capsule Memorial page, linked above, explained that a
3.5 inch SATA hard disk enclosure would be required so I ordered one online.
It turned up in due course and I plugged in the drive. That was easy as there were only a couple of cables and they could only plug in one way.
Then I hooked the still open case to my Mac with a USB cable and all the backups were still there! After some rummaging I located the Japan photos (and some forgotten others) and my partner’s happy now.
The blocking screws
I struck one problem with the drive and new enclosure: the drive wouldn’t fit in the case. It had 4 shiny metal screws sticking out of the top that stopped the case from sliding on. I couldn’t see what the screws were for, but didn’t want to risk damaging the drive until we had the data we needed. The second photo shows the 4 screws loose on top of the black case.
Once I was certain we had the data we required I took to the problem screws. They must have just been spacers or something because they didn’t seem to actually attach anything to anything else.
A spare hard drive
Once the spacer screws were gone I could close up the case. Now I have a nice spare 1 Terabyte external hard drive to store all the movies I’ve been ripping from DVD.
Before long I’ll reformat it, deleting the backups from several computers it still contains, and set it up as the library for my digital media.