Ask LH: How Do I Make Wired Backups With My AirPort Time Capsule?

Dear Lifehacker, I want to set up my Mac's AirPort Time Capsule strictly for backup and storage. The Apple rep I spoke to told me to get a Cat5 cable, but these are old and difficult to get hold of. So my question is: will a Cat6 cable work with this setup? Also, how complicated is it to get working? Thanks, Cat Confused

Dear CC,

Connecting an Ethernet cable between your Mac and one of the Ethernet ports on the AirPort Time Capsule is definitely the fastest way to back up your data. There are currently three different Ethernet categories to choose from — Cat5, Cat5e and Cat6 — each of which adhere to different network standards. All three cables use a similar RJ-45-style connector which means they will fit into any router, including the AirPort Time Capsule.

A Cat6 cable should work fine with your setup. Category 6 cabling is essentially the same as Cat5, but with a few improvements. It has stricter specifications when it comes to interference and it's capable of speeds of up to 10-Gigabits. In other words, it will do the same job, but with the potential to get things done faster.

This step-by-step walkthrough from Apple's official help forum explains how to get your backup working:

  • Connect an Ethernet cable from one of the Ethernet LAN ports on your main router to the WAN port (circle of dots icon) on the Time Capsule
  • Open AirPort Utility 5.6 and click Manual Setup
  • Click the Time Capsule tab just below the row of icons to name your Time Capsule, assign a device password and adjust Time Zone settings. (You can use the same settings that you used previously if you want.)
  • Click the Wireless tab and change the setting for Wireless Mode to "Off"
  • Click the Internet icon, then click the Internet Connection tab
  • Connect Using = Ethernet
  • Connection Sharing = Off (Bridge Mode)
  • Update to save settings and wait 25-30 seconds for the Time Capsule to restart
  • Connect an Ethernet cable from your Mac to one of the LAN ports on the Time Capsule. Turn off wireless on the Mac.
  • You are now ready to backup using Ethernet

Once the first backup is completed, you can make all future backups automatic, which will only target files that have changed on your Mac since the last backup was performed. At this point, using WiFi shouldn't be a problem as the backups will be much smaller. If any readers have a similar setup at home, let CC know how you went in the comments section below.

Cheers Lifehacker

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