Answers...

to commonly asked questions.

Routers

Which router should I get?

Apple has gotten out of the router business so I can no longer recommend the Airport devices. That has now left an opening for other companies to fill in the void. The two products I have been happy with over the last few years are:

1. Orbi by Netgear
2. Velop by Linksys

Both of those systems do a great job. They can be a little cumbersome to set up but once setup, they work very well and are stable. I’ve set up many of each system and have had very little negative feedback. The only negative thing I would say about both product lines is that they are convoluted. There are too many models from which to choose. If you’re sitting on 2000sq feet however, almost any of the current packages would do just fine. I think the Apple store is selling the Orbi systems but I’m sure they’re available at Best Buy as well as online via Amazon, etc...

Can I replace one of my Airports with a different router?

Scotty, I have a question. My AirPort Extreme base w/ time capsule started making noises and heating up. The base unit was connected by cable to two other airports extremes located in remote locations in my house. I took one of the remote AirPort Extremes and replaced the base unit with it. I can not get the remote AirPort Extreme to work. Are the remotes just relays for the base? What are your recommendations?

Second question, what router would you recommend to replace our base unit? Will it work with the two remote AirPort Extremes?

Third question, how do I get my back up information from the time capsule?
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1. Any time a hard drive starts making noise, it's time to get a new drive. The Time Capsule was a product that contained a hard drive so always time to replace or move on. When moving around the roles of Airport devices in the home network, i.e. moving a router from extender to main, it's better to just reset all devices and start over. Think of the other like the magician that pulls the table cloth from the table but leaves the glasses and plates sitting perfectly. Not so easy to do and most likely the network will have an issue of some sort. Better to just go around to all the devices, reset them with a paper clip, then start all over again.

2. My golden rule of networking is that one should NEVER miss manufacturer's devices on the same network. In other words, only use all Linksys with Linksys. Only use all Netgear with Netgear. Only use all Apple with Apple. So in the case of your failed Apple router, you would not want to buy a non Apple router and expect it to work with the existing ones. If you are looking to replace your entire wifi network, my go-to router of choice is now the Orbi system by Netgear. They are very good and I've had great feedback over the last year or so from clients who now use them. Linksys Velop is also good although a little quirky at times. Neither of these are as easy to set up as the Apple routers where but Apple has left the router business so it's time to move on. Google's mesh system is ok but my third choice at the moment. I do have a few spare Airport extremes if you'd like, I'd be happy to reset the network if needed, and add an additional Airport. Possibly alternative to purchasing a brand new system at this point.

3. Time Capsule is the worst product Apple has made in the last 15 years. I hate it with every fiber in my body. This is not to be mistaken with Time Machine, the software than backs up to an attached hard drive. That is great. However, Time Capsule, the router/wireless backup can go jump in a lake. It may be possible to get the data off but problems abound. First, if you open the time capsule sparse image bundle from a computer other than the one that created it, it can corrupt the image and it will never be accessible. Second, if the drive has failed (heating up and making noises) you might as well forget it. Third, if the drive is ok but the enclosure was bad, then you'd still need to extract the old drive and put into another Time Capsule enclosure. A standard hard drive enclosure won't do. Apple did not approach Time Capsule in an accessible way. They locked it down so much that it's almost impossible extract information postmordom.
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