I woke up early this morning only to find my Apple Time Capsule had up and died sometime between Midnight and 5:00am.  I had been expecting that moment to arrive, but I, of course, hoped I would somehow be exempt from the inevitability of misbegotten electronic parts.

I had come to realize, since October 2009, that my Time Capsule had an embedded expiration date of 18 months or so and, as I discovered this morning, my Time Capsule lasted just about that long.  The power light was off.  The Time Capsule was cold and dead.

The early Apple Time Capsules have a power supply problem.  There’s a website dedicated to memorializing fallen Time Capsules, but it closed down after processing 2,500 dead devices:

On Monday 15 February 2010, we reached 2500 failed Time Capsule registrations and we decided to close the Memorial Register for new submissions. We know for sure that many more Time Capsules will die in the next months (or years maybe) but we’ve decided not to spend anymore of our time cataloging this disaster.

The Time Capsule Memorial Register was brought to life on October 10, 2009 by Pim van Bochoven from the Netherlands after he found out that his failed Time Capsule was only one of many, and Apple told everyone in his situation that they were out of warranty, so out of luck.  The massive failure started around September 2009 (about 18 months after the first Time Capsules were sold). The Register was meant as a humorous protest against Apple’s unwillingness to offer a solution to the ever growing number of people who ended up with a “shiny white doorstop”.

I called AppleCare this morning and a support tech named Ted told me he’s cross-ship me a replacement because I’d preciously purchased an AppleCare contract for my unibody MacBook.  He told me I’d be getting a refurbished Time Capsule with a better power supply but, he urged, that was a “good thing” — because it meant everything would be hand-tested and not assembly line manufactured.

I asked Ted if that meant I would be getting someone else’s backup drive content, or if my content would be accessible to others in the refurbished swap-and-ship chain — Time Capsules have a hard drive for automatic and transparent Time Machine backups as well as serving as a network hub for USB devices and your cable modem and external network drives — and Ted assured me all hard drives are “wiped seven times” to clear out any previous personal data and, if the drive is dead, it goes into an “industrial shredder.”

Ted said the replacement should arrive by Tuesday.

Ted also told me the new generation Time Capsules have a much better power supply and employ a “Simultaneous Dual Band” mode that means they can connect separate WiFi devices at the fastest possible native speed:  An older WiFi device will not slow down newer WiFi devices on the same network.

We are a 100% Mac shack and the Apple Time Capsule is the heart and mind of our daily computing.  I’m already feeling queasy without its reassuring green light glowing back at me indicating all is well in our virtual online world.  We are now without network printing and access to our network drives is unavailable and we have no WiFi.

I’m currently hardwired directly into our cable modem on a single machine — Tuesday cannot come soon enough — and we are eager to get back to the unwittingly easy protection our Apple Time Capsule provided us from the drudgery of everyday computing.


    1. I’m missing iTunes, too. That’s the danger of putting your music library on a network drive instead of in the cloud. I sure hope Apple soon becomes LAppla to give us streaming music from the cloud again after they swallowed Lala.

  1. Wow, David! That’s a lot of eggs in one Apple basket! Glad they’re replacing it!

    1. That’s a good point, Gordon. The center of our work and entertainment life is not our cable modem, but rather our Apple Time Capsule!

  2. UPDATE:

    Couldn’t wait for Apple Repair. Just received a notice that the replacement shipped via FedEx GROUND — Oooof! — that means an 8pm delivery tomorrow or the next day or the next…

    So, I went out and spent $270.00USD on the Dual SIM 1TB Time Capsule and boy is it ever faster and better than what I was using! Time Machine screams. My network drive loads faster. Network printing is quick. The internet sings. Fantastic. Worth every penny.

    I’ll use the refurb replacement as a backup, or as a separate network elsewhere.

  3. David, I hope that you will reply to this.
    I am wondering if your dead TC was within the serial number range that was stated to be replaced or if it was outside of it?

    My reasoning is that I’ve just had my second TC die on my, the replacement to my first dead one. Obviously my newer dead one is not in the range to be automatically replaced so I’m hoping to find out if Apple is replacing drives not officially covered under their technote.

    Cheers and thanks for answering,

    1. Hi Andrew —

      If the replacement died too, Apple will certainly replace it just as they replaced the original. Get in touch with them and let us know what happens!

      1. I called them this morning. Admits my allergies and sneezing I was able to talk to them.
        They will replace it with basically no questions asked.
        I guess also having a MBP under AppleCare also helped too as the case is registered under that.

        They gave me a few options.
        The could take my credit card number as insurance and send me a new one and them I send them my dead one back, or I could take it into an Apple Store for a replacement there. The problem is that I have data on there that I want to maintain, so they said take it to the Apple Store or an Apple Service provider and they would handle the transfer.

        I don’t have an Apple Store in my city, but have a Service Provider that I know that could do the transfer for me, but I kinda want to do it at the Apple Store because maybe then they would give me a new one instead of another w year tombstone.

        So I need to weigh my options.

        I’ll let you know further what happens.

        P.S. my serial number was not in the range listed, but that didn’t seem to make a difference. I think the key is to be courteous and friendly.

        1. I’m glad it’s working out for you, Andrew!

          The new serial number is linked to the old serial number — so your service clock starts all over again with the replacement for the replacement. The replacements you’re getting are refurbished — so they aren’t new — but they do have “new” coverage when it comes to replacing them if they fail again, so you basically have no worries whatsoever.

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