Time Capsule Replacement in 2022

Back at home, my parents have been backing up to an old Time Capsule that’s starting to show its age. I’d like to replace it with a “modern” solution for networked Time Machine backups, but the most I can find are people talking about using a Synology or something, which isn’t really what i’m looking for. I want something that I can effectively set up as a drop-in replacement, with minimal management required. I know I can connect an external drive to it over USB, but given that the Time Capsule is already quite a bit old anyway, I would like to be future-proof and use a solution that doesn’t require it.

(FYI, they’re not using the time capsule for WiFi. They have an Eero setup, with the Time Capsule connected to it over ethernet, and is only used for backup)

Would you consider using a refurbished, minimal spec. Mac Mini as a backup server?

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This is my solution and recommendation. I just bought an affordable 2014 Mac mini from OWC/Mac Sales and set it up as a target for Time Machine backups. It works great. And the 2014 model can even be upgraded to macOS Monterey (but no further).

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If this is their only backup, or they don’t have an online backup, Backblaze might be a good solution. That would take care of theft/fire/etc. scenarios.

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+1 for @JohnAtl ‘s suggestion.

Set it and forget it. They would also get regular email notifications showing them that the backups have happened/are happening.

The only reason I wouldn’t recommend this is if they have slow or data capped internet access

That’s an interesting idea, though I’m afraid it will make things more complicated in the long run, and unless I were to get a 2018-ish Mini, it’s not much more future-proof than just plugging in a new external drive to the Time Capsule

I’ve tried selling them on Backblaze, but they’d prefer not to pay an ongoing subscription

For my 94-year-old Dad, I plug in an external drive and run a Time Machine backup whenever I visit. (I live only two miles away.) This could be done periodically over the phone with your parents, if necessary.

Given those parameters, something like this might work for them.

(Noting that it is accessible from “the cloud”, but doesn’t back up to a cloud server, so it is still vulnerable to fire/theft/etc.)

You don’t mention what machine they are using nor how many.

For my Mac Studio, I have a drive directly attached I use for Time Machine. An option to consider if it is a desktop system and it doesn’t need to be a network solution. Drives are pretty cheap these days.

Of course if the network solution is a requirement this will not work.

And as Christmas is coming, you could gift them a Backblaze subscription. :slight_smile:

Unfortunately, as you’ve probably already surmised, there is no direct replacement for Time Capsule. The closest thing would be a Mini running as a Time Machine server, as suggested by @ACautionaryTale and others.

Might I ask what sort of issues you’re running into with your Time Capsule?

Backups seem to be failing every now and again, and I suspect the hard drive doesn’t have much more life left

It looks enticing, but doing some research earlier it looks like Time Machine on it has become a bit unreliable as of late

Time machine in the long run is almost always unreliable and needs to be started over again from scratch. Happened again recently with my 2018 Time Capsule. But because of its age I did not pursue keeping it in service. I’m glad you are looking for an alternative.

I switched to Carbon Copy Cloner because of online reports that TimeMachine is unreliable, and like it very much so far. It takes more skill to set up than TM (unless I chose an advanced setting mode without remembering it). But it can be easily automated, including running a backup when you plug in a specific external drive.

The drive can be replaced, ifixit.com has the deets on how it’s done. Or you could try another TC, lots of listings on eBay.