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Which router to replace 2011 Apple Time Capsule


I am using the Time Capsule with two AEX WiFi extenders for WiFi needs at home that also serves Dots around the home. Sonos is served via Sonos net, with a Boost and a WD My Cloud NAS wired to the LAN ports of the Time Capsule. This is all working fine, but I may have the opportunity to manage the logistics of replacement and one never knows how much life is left in the 2011 TC.
My question is what would be a good modern replacement for the Time Capsule with the following conditions:
1. International voltage range like Sonos kit.
2. Should be available in Best Buy stores in the US.
3. Should work as a drop in replacement for Sonos.
4. Should work as a drop in replacement for WiFi - either with the two AEX extenders at either end of a single floor apartment, or by not needing these.
5. If 4 is not likely, what extenders will have to be bought as well?

While I use the Time Capsule for Time Machine back ups, I can easily use a wired to Mac HDD to do this, so this functionality is not needed.

Airport Extreme would have been the obvious choice but for the concern that Apple have stopped development of the line since 2016.

Thank you!
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Best answer by pwt 3 April 2018, 12:38

And the only reason to change is in anticipation of failure and the chance to get a router cheaper in the US than in India - at about half the price. On the other hand, the TC may even soldier on for a few more years, so there is that option to also consider.

Fwiw, my wireless network infrastructure also includes a Time Capsule (4th Gen) and an Airport Express (2nd Gen). Both have been easy to use and trouble-free, rather more so than the ISP-provided cable modem / router that is also part of the set up. Although Apple appears to have ended new product development for network equipment, it's still selling devices and I would expect a 3-5 year support window for significant security issues from the point at which a device is discontinued.



Not very exciting, I know, but I'd be minded to keep your exisiting devices if they are meeting your needs. I certainly have no urge to replace mine.
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29 replies

And no Raspberry type solutions please, I am not comfortable handling open circuit boards that come minus boxes!
Kumar,

I don’t have much personal experience in this area, but maybe the below will help...

Perhaps get rid of the time capsule and your WiFi extenders and look at a set of three or more Google WiFi Mesh units, which I think retail at around $99 each

See this video comparison too (and others) on YouTube:

https://youtu.be/DPm_yQlwFdY
Ken, thank you, I will research this further.

While I do, a question for you/others - do these make nice with Sonos? I ask because there are a few routers in the Sonos Hall of Shame.
As you are already running your devices on SonosNet, I don’t see you will have any issues at all, as long as you maintain WiFi channel separation.
You'd need to wire your BOOST to the LAN port on one of the Google pods. In mesh mode the Google kit introduces another router, in the first pod.
Also just to add to Ratty's comment, once you have wired your boost to one of the pods, you must then go around all your other Sonos devices and switch each one off and back on again... your system should then be all up and running with no issues... it’s that simple to switch things over when they are already running on SonosNet... (famous last words).
it’s that simple to switch things over when they are already running on SonosNet... (famous last words).
Lol; I do have the small "Let sleeping dogs lie" thought. But thanks, gents, this sounds like it will keep Sonos just as stable via Sonos net while perhaps doing a better job for the WiFi side of things. Or at least as good a one.
Also a question for Apple experts: even with development stopped will Apple continue to update the Extreme that they still sell, where this is necessary for protection from hacks/attacks? Or will it be left with more and more of its rear hanging out as time passes?
A couple of question on the Google kit:
1. I see only one LAN port, on the modem connected unit where the WAN port will have to be used as such for the modem. I suppose I can wire the Boost to it, and wire the WD NAS to the Boost with no change in music play performance? I don't use the NAS for anything other than as a document storage back up and for Sonos; it sees only occasional use in cut/paste mode for document back up storage. The Mac will "see" the NAS on the network as it does just now?
2. Do I have to worry about compatibility between the broadband service provider supplied modem and Google?
Gents, any comment about this with reference to Sonos net and keeping channels separate:
"Google Wifi is designed to adapt to that automatically. It does this by using a dedicated “sensing radio” to scan the surrounding wireless environment, work out which channels are least congested, and hop from one to the other to maintain a consistently strong signal."
Further, with these kind of mesh devices, might it now be better to use Sonos in WiFi mode and then not be affected by cross channel interference?
A couple of question on the Google kit:
1. I see only one LAN port, on the modem connected unit where the WAN port will have to be used as such for the modem. I suppose I can wire the Boost to it, and wire the WD NAS to the Boost with no change in music play performance? I don't use the NAS for anything other than as a document storage back up and for Sonos; it sees only occasional use in cut/paste mode for document back up storage. The Mac will "see" the NAS on the network as it does just now?
2. Do I have to worry about compatibility between the broadband service provider supplied modem and Google?


I can only say what I might do... I would use my providers router but switch it over to modem mode only... I would wire a google hub to that and then I would install an unmanaged switch ... I would need 16 WAN ports in my case to feed the cable links around the house.

I would plug my boost into one of my other google hubs as central as possible to my home Sonos System and then drop a few more google hubs in any areas that had weak signals for WiFi in general.

Obviously each home is different so I guess you would have to adjust things to suit your own setup.

If for any reason the Google hubs were not up to the job, or were incompatible with my providers modem ... I would return them and simply get my money back under the usual new purchase guarantee in-line with the consumer laws available in your country.
Gents, any comment about this with reference to Sonos net and keeping channels separate:
"Google Wifi is designed to adapt to that automatically. It does this by using a dedicated “sensing radio” to scan the surrounding wireless environment, work out which channels are least congested, and hop from one to the other to maintain a consistently strong signal."
Further, with these kind of mesh devices, might it now be better to use Sonos in WiFi mode and then not be affected by cross channel interference?


Most home routers now perform similar tasks on reboot... but I think you can fix the channels in the settings. I don’t see any harm in switching your Sonos system from SonosNet to WiFi to at least try it but my thoughts are that some Sonos devices may switch back and forth between WiFi and SonosNet in areas where the two signals may converge... personally I think SonosNet would be your best option.

Even if you couldn’t fix the channel on the google hubs (although I think you can). If it is doing it's auto channel searching correctly it should avoid the SonosNet channel anyway. Note such channel switching is very rare once things are up and running, its only likely that channels will move when neighbours move in next door with their new router etc.

The automatic WiFi channel movement is usually negligible once s System has settled into a fixed locality.
Thanks, and another point about whether I even need or will use the mesh tech in the first place.

My TC is in the central open plan space and I have AEX extenders in two bedrooms that are on opposite sides of the space and the TC. As I understand, the mesh benefit is like that of Sonos Net; instead of all hub and spoke, in places where the units are placed in the same direction from the router, instead of both being fed by the router, the further one will be fed by the one nearer to the router. Which will never happen in my case. As it does not in Sonos Net; no unit runs as a tertiary node.

And since I know that the existing AEX units will work with the new Extreme, all I need to do is get one, and drop it in place of the TC. The only concern in doing that is the question asked a few posts earlier about on going updates for security, even if new feature development has been stopped by Apple.
If security is your concern then install a hardware firewall, after your modem.

I personally would not be paranoid by such things, as I doubt you, as an individual, amongst, 3.5 billion other internet users would be likely to be targeted specifically, as long as you keep things fairly upto date. It’s far more likely to be a software, or local user failure, that leads to a security breach.

But if you are that worried, then keep any important information or material on devices that are not connected to the internet. Writing things down in a book stored in a strong secure safe is as good as any ... if you encrypt the text in the book, that would be even better.

If you require things to be connected to the internet then look at forms of encrypted storage software ... to encrypt the data on disk or the entire disk.
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I will say I have been very pleased with my Netgear Orbi which is available at about any US Store. I purchased the 2 unit version (primary and satellite) which covers my 6000sf+ house very well (my house is shaped like an L and the main unit is midway on first floor on one side of the L and the second unit is mid-way on 2nd floor of the other side of L - nothing on third floor.

I was going to get a third to kind hit the beginning mid and end of L but the current setup gives me very strong wifi throughout house and have never felt need to get that 3rd unit. I also have my NAS drive hooked to the Ethernet ports of the satellite with no issues.

I personally would not be paranoid by such things, as I doubt you as an individual amongst, 3.5 billion other internet users would be likely to be targeted specifically, as long as you keep things fairly upto date. It’s far more likely to be a software, or local user failure, that leads to a security breach.

I am not paranoid, and thus far I have counted on the periodic updates Apple has made to the routers. But you refer above to "keep things fairly upto date". In the case of the router, Apple has to do that surely, there is nothing I can do? The concern therefore is exposure, if the "no further development" decision by Apple about its wireless routers, will leave them out of date on this aspect as well.

Minus this concern, my preference is for Apple; the UI and how it all works is as slick for its routers and extenders as it is for any other Apple product. And in my case, from ports and the rest, including Sonos and the NAS, it will be a simple drop in.

I have neither the interest nor the capability to start adding firewalls and encryptions. All I have done is kept my passwords on USB sticks that are never exposed to the router and to the net. That to my mind is all I need for that bit. For all else, being one of 3.5 billion suffices.
I purchased the 2 unit version (primary and satellite) which covers my 6000sf+ house very well (my house is shaped like an L
My situation is if I need one satellite, I will need two. Or none, if the primary has a lot more grunt than the present unit. For either bedroom on opposite sides of a centrally placed primary in an open plan core, with internal walls of brick. Which is how the present Apple TC works with one AEX unit in each bedroom. That works in hub and spoke mode, not mesh, but as I wrote, in my case, the mesh will not see use. Both bedroom units, if they are needed, will have to get their signal from the primary.
As an Apple user I would look at the extremely popular 1Password encrypted software for storing your passwords and information (credit cards/bank cards etc.) across all your devices... at least that is updated on a regular basis and allows you to take your passwords wherever you go. It even clears your clipboard automatically. Probably safer than a USB stick at least, which is no good at all for many mobile devices like iPhone or iPad or Mac Mini... at least 1Password is accessible by all current Apple devices.

I just said I personally would not be paranoid by the way, because there are so many folk out there, some using modems and routers that have not been updated for years, most probably. Moments after any update is released, it can become out-dated.
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I use 1Password. I would be pretty lost without it.
because there are so many folk out there, some using modems and routers that have not been updated for years, most probably. Moments after any update is released, it can become out-dated.
Lol. I shall take comfort to be surrounded by those many, by being a Mac user, and to top it all, in being one of 3.5 billion, in the event of the simplest decision: a drop in Extreme unit.
I use 1Password. I would be pretty lost without it.

“ditto” .. my family all use it too.
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I have been pretty impressed with the Orbi in both setup and reliability. The 3 pack (1 base and 2 satellites) is probably the package I see at stores most. Very strong signals and good high speed connection between base and satellite making the satellite Ethernet ports fairly reliable as well. And no issues playing nice with sonosnet.
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Here's my two cents...

I have 3 Apple MBP's, 2 iPods , 2 iPads, an iMac, 2 Windows 10 computers, Asus (Android) tablet, Ring and Orlo security cameras, HP Laser Printer, Echo Show, Google Home, Phillips Hue lights, Netgear NAS and, xBox, PS4 and 3 Netgear gaming switches.

I'm not telling you all this to brag but rather to really make my point. I moved from Apple Routers and Airport Express units three years ago as I knew I wanted three (3) things:

1.Mixed environment with no problems
2.Strong Signal
3.Ability to tweak my router settings

That said if you want a single piece of kit here's what I use: https://www.asus.com/us/Networking/RT-AC5300/

Cheers!


That said if you want a single piece of kit here's what I use: https://www.asus.com/us/Networking/RT-AC5300/

Cheers!


Yes indeed a very nice router AjTrek1...and similar to the top spec Netgear Nighthawks. I am rather envious, as I too would like that router, as i believe it supports OpenVPN Server and would be ideal for tunnelling home to my LAN when on holiday.
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That said if you want a single piece of kit here's what I use: https://www.asus.com/us/Networking/RT-AC5300/

Cheers!


Yes indeed a very nice router AjTrek1...and similar to the top spec Netgear Nighthawks. I am rather envious, as I too would like that router, as i believe it supports OpenVPN Server and would be ideal for tunnelling home to my LAN when on holiday.


Thanks for the vote of approval :)
Funny you should mention the Netgear Nighthawk series. I actually tried the Nighthawk AC4000-X6S and the Nighthawk AC5300-X8 before settling on the ASUS RT AC5300. Yes it does support Open VPN.

Cheers!