Western Digital fixes OS X Lion Time Machine incompatibilities with My Book Live series

One of the teething problems in Lion is that the operating system does not work well with some third-party network attached storage (NAS) solutions. As we await OS X 10.7.1 update to fix those problems, manufacturers like Western Digital are taking this matter into their own hands. Western Digital, for example, yesterday released a firmware update for the My Book Live series, making it compatible with OS X Lion and Time Machine.

Western Digital uses Netatalk, an open source AFP fileserver. When Apple made changes to AFP function in Lion, it caused major woes as Netatalk had to be updated. According to release notes (PDF document), the software can be downloaded manually or automatically, by accessing the drive via Bonjour or using the WD QuickView app on your Mac.

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OS X Lion loses compatibility with some network-attached storage drives

CNet has discovered that OS X Lion users lose support for Time Machine backups with third-party NAS hard drives. Time Machine in OS X Lion is now only compatible with Netatalk 2.0. This means that third-party NAS (network attached storage) drives will need a software upgrade from their respective manufactures in order to work with Apple’s next-generation Mac operating system. Users of cable-connected external hard drives will not be affected. Drobo, the company behind popular network attached storage devices has noted the issues on their website:

DroboFS, B800fs and DroboPro FS users running Mac OS X Lion (OS X 10.7) will experience problems with Time Machine.

The next official firmware release for all “FS” products will ensure full compatibility with the released version of Mac OS X Lion,  including use of Time Machine.

Another popular NAS drive maker, Synology, has already released a fix in beta form. Other NAS drive makers will likely follow up with their own OS X Lion compatibility updates.

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Time Capsules accept user 3TB drives?

Apple last week bumped up its Time Capsule wireless backup appliance to 2TB and 3TB models, priced the same $299 and $499, respectively. In addition, Apple appears to be now using consumer public drives from Western Digital (bumped up from Hitachi Deskstar drives). That, plus the $499 price point puts the new 3TB Time Capsule pretty much out of reach on price-conscious buyers. In fact, you’re better off, as we explained, hooking up an external USB drive to your 1TB Time Capsule.

But if you hate the clutter and yearn for a sealed, elegant solution with only one plug, you needn’t pony up $200 extra for a 3TB Time Capsule: It would seem that the wireless gizmo accepts 3TB internal drives, if properly partitioned. According to a HardMac reader:

I personally installed a 3 TB WD Caviar Green 3To (by chance!), when it came out 5 months ago, in a 1 TB Time Capsule that I bought around that time as well. I formatted it with Airport Utility to have the 3 partitions that are necessary for Time Machine and it was immediately recognized as a 3 TB disk. I’ve been using it ever since without any problem.

One caveat…

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Why buying the 3TB Time Capsule is crazypants

We know Apple charges a premium on storage.  That’s why many people buy RAM and HDD/SSD storage for their Macs from third party retailers, saving lots of money.   With iOS devices, however, Apple is able to keep out third party upgrades because the devices are sealed shut.  That’s why a device with 16GB costs $100 less than a device with 32GB of RAM, which in turn costs $100 less than a device with 64GB of flash storage.  Apple buys Flash for less than anyone else on earth but mere mortals can get storage for a fraction of what Apple charges.

So here’s this Time Capsule thing.

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 $299 for 2TB.  To upgrade to a 3TB drive, you’ll need $200 more.  How absurd is this?  The difference between a 2TB and 3TB drive is like $40.

Not only is this beyond the call of the “Mac Tax” but it is crazy easy to get around.  For an extra $150 (Still $50 less than the 3TB model) you can buy a perfectly good 3TB USB Seagate or Western Digital hard drive from Amazon.  Then just plug it into the back of the 2TB model and you have 5TB of addressable space.    You’ve been able to use USB drives since 2008 as Time Machine backups or Network Attached Storage.

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Of course it is nice to have the drive in a convenient little package with only one plug, but for $200, only getting an extra TB seems a little absurd.   Read more