My Airport Extreme just died! (Correction. - Time Capsule)

Well after 5 years of flawless service my Airport Extreme threw up some errors last week. Research online alluded to the possibility of fixing disk errors by connecting my Airport via USB or Ethernet and running Disk Utility (First Aid) and have it repair said errors.
That’s all fine and dandy if you could connect an Ethernet cable to a modern MacBook Pro.
Katie mentioned once on MPU that she has several storage tubs in the closet full of cables and the likes, and I’m no different. My tub has every cable or connector know to mankind. Or so I thought.
Whilst I can drag out my old iomega zip drive and an external floppy disk drive (I even have 1.44Mb disks to suit) I simply do not have a male USB to male USB cable. Luckily plan B was finding my 2009 Macbook Pro which does have an Ethernet port. I ran disk utility (This MBP is stuck on El Capitan) but alas, no luck.
So, my weekend project is to fix it myself. Armed with a screwdriver and I managed to successfully disassemble the unit and remove the hard drive.

I’ll buy a replacement drive this coming week. Most likely replacing the 3TB drive with a 4 TB drive. Stay tuned, I’ll report my progress.

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I want to buy a used or refurbished AirPort Extreme simply for over the air Time Machine backup. However, there’s not many for sale in Malaysia and my hunt was not successful. I’d eyeing your replacement to see how easy it is as I’d imagine if I ever get my hands on a used one, I’d be changing the HDD anytime soon. I wonder if it will work with an SSD :thinking:

The effort so far has been easier than I had expected. Definitely follow the instructions on the ifixit website because there is no way you’d work out how to do it by trial and error. I think the SSD idea wont work because of the different shapes and connectors used. (I stand to be corrected if anyone knows more)


I believe what you guys have is Time Capsule, not strictly AirPort Extreme.

Since you’re both on this side of the planet, I have recently decommissioned an old (flat type) AirPort Extreme which I can make available to anyone in Hong Kong, Singapore or Brisbane. For parts or whatever.

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Yes, exactly. I was confused at first by the post, because the Airport Extreme (I’m using one right now) does not contain storage.

Fair enough, you are correct it’s a 3TB Time Capsule.

Hi guys, just if you’ve been wondering how I’ve been getting on with this, I have been slowed down somewhat this past week due to a car accident. I got rear-ended by a semi trailer carrying about 40 tons of logs. Needless to say, I didn’t win that battle.
I’ll get pictures and results regarding the Time Capsule repairs up on here as soon as I can.

Hope get better soon

Thanks Captain! (That’s a Voyager reference in case you’re not a Trekky)
I faired reasonably well. My car however… different story.

@Russell Yep I got it, Star Trek Fan since the original series. Glad you are ok.

OK. All has been restored and I am posting this connected to the internet via my repaired Airport Time Capsule. Here’s a few pictures of the reconstruction after my earlier deconstruction pictures.

I replaced the dead 3TB drive with a 4TB Seagate ‘Ironwolf’ drive.

The rubber footers and capping from the original drive needed a little trimming with a sharp knife just to get the right snug fit and in it went.

The toughest part of the whole process was reconnecting the three very small and delicate connections once the drive was in place. Very important to follow the ifixit instructions I linked to earlier. The connections don’t connect how you’d expect and if you didn’t know how to disconnect and reconnect I am confident that you (and definitely I) would break them.

The second rubber footing needed some creative trimming to accommodate the new drive but once that was done the final clamp and screws went it and I could snap back in the bottom cover and I was good to go.

And here’s the final result. Old hard drive. The knife I used to trim the rubber mounts and the bits I trimmed off. I used the tweezers to align the small and delicate connectors before snapping them into place with my pinkie finger.
It then took 11 hours to make a 157Gb back up and then today it took another few hours doing a substantial back up because of the changes that MacOS Mojave 10.14.5 made after yesterday’s update.
So, there you go. A happy ending.