Time Capsule Postscript: Wow, Even iPhone Synchronization is Slow | iLounge Backstage


Time Capsule Postscript: Wow, Even iPhone Synchronization is Slow

Had our Dual-Band Time Capsule been faster at doing the two simple things we mentioned we were trying to accomplish—(1) transferring a large media library, then (2) merging it with a much smaller library—there probably would have only been one Backstage article on the topic, and it would have ended with great satisfaction. But it’s slow - so slow in fact that we’re now on our third consecutive day of trying to deal with its sluggishness, and have officially decided to give up on using it as any type of iTunes storage device.

Late yesterday, we succeeded in task (2), and had two hours to try and fill an iPhone 3GS with some of the library’s contents. By the end of that two-hour stretch, we’d gotten a grand total of two Gigabytes of content synchronized back from Time Capsule to the iPhone 3GS, and had to basically abandon plans to bring videos over to the device until today. We started that task this morning, watching as the progress meter moved at a snail’s pace to transfer a 1GB video file to the device, and then watched as telephone calls killed the video transfers part way through. Many hours later, we’re still not done. And there are too many other examples of Time Capsule’s slow performance to count.

Our conclusion: we’re officially forgetting all about using the Dual-Band Time Capsule for even the most meager of iTunes-related tasks, and sadly going back to using a wired hard drive. iLounge’s Charles Starrett opines than the device’s single biggest flaw is that it was built and marketed as both a router and a networked storage device, which compromises its performance for the thing people really want—networked storage—in the name of including functionality they don’t really care about, namely replacing their existing wireless routers. While Time Capsule’s appeal for both purposes really is an initial selling point, it’s obvious after using the original and new versions that both have missed the boat; Apple would have been much better off stripping the router features and multiple Ethernet ports, adding a FireWire 800 port, and enabling it to work either as a wired or wireless hard drive for $100 less.

« Is the iPhone a Dud for Serious Business Users?

Time Capsule, Part III: Parting Thoughts on Slow Transfers and Wireless Interruptions »

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I COMPLETELY DISAGREE.  I have the previous model of the time capsule and i am SATISFIED with the performance of using a time capsule as an itunes library…

while it is not lightning fast, neither is adding music to your iphone using the USB cord..  how fast do you expect to fill up an iphone?!?!  even an external hd is gonna take SEVERAL hrs to fil up a 16-32/+ GB ipod

The result is that i have over 300GB stored wirelessly and i can play music and movies with a great loadtime. I had fears that it would take forever to move files onto the iphone, or that playing files would be 2-3 times as slow, but its not… compared to an external hd.

MY REASON to implement this was that I was tired of having to set up my external hd to play music or add music to my iphone.. its ANNOYING… especially b/c i have one of the old external hds (3 years old) that had to be plugged into the wall as well as the computer

OVERALL IMPACT: storing 500/+ GB wirelessly, saving your macbook/etc alot of space

Posted by maroon_tiger on July 8, 2009 at 8:42 PM (CDT)


and no offense, but its not smart all all to transfer over 500GB into your iphone and NOT PUTTING YOUR PHONE ON AIRPLANE MODE… its not just an ipod, its a phone too.. you cant blame the iphone for stopping the data sync..smh

Posted by maroon_tiger on July 8, 2009 at 8:49 PM (CDT)


^ i meant 500MB/+

Posted by maroon_tiger on July 8, 2009 at 8:58 PM (CDT)


#1/#2/#3: The transfer was done with a docked iPhone 3GS that never has any issues transferring similarly sized files when connected to a typical iTunes library. It takes less than two minutes to receive 1GB of data via a wired USB connection, which is to say under 30 minutes to completely fill a 16GB device, though the fill discussed above was far smaller and incremental. If Airplane Mode was required or even a good idea under normal conditions, it would be turned on automatically. Only in a situation like this one does the transfer take so long that a phone call would interrupt it with frequency.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on July 9, 2009 at 12:34 AM (CDT)


I just bought the same unit. But I use gigabit ethernet connections for backup tasks, and the WiFi for laptop Internet mobility. I would blame WiFi, rather than any Apple product.

I don’t care what type of device you use, if you’re transferring gigabytes of information, you don’t use wireless, period.

I connected a 1.5TB drive to my Airport - it did exactly what it said it would.

I never expected Apple to somehow make WiFi go at Gigabit ethernet speeds.

Posted by Damien Stolarz on July 9, 2009 at 1:31 AM (CDT)


I love apple but you have to admit if you ship a 1tb device, people are going to expect it to work better than it does.  Even using the hard wire option is not as eadycas say a plug and play Lacie drive.

Posted by Chopper on July 9, 2009 at 1:55 AM (CDT)


I had the ame experiance in attempting to use my iphoto library (50GB) on an external 1TB HD connected to Airport extreme (2009 model). Startup of iphoto took minutes. Accessing a photo to edit took about 10 secs. Viewing the album over Wifi was like stepping back 15 years in internet speeds.
So I gave up, dumped iphoto and moved back to Picasa. It screams along on the external HD over Wifi. Access is instantanious from any of our WiFi connected Macs. Picasa has a few rough edges on the Mac but it’s easily as good as iphoto and is far more logical in it’s structure. Some may even see the lack of facial recognition as a plus.

I blame iphoto and iTunes. They don’t seem designed to handle their big file databases over a network.

Posted by Donal on July 9, 2009 at 2:13 AM (CDT)


@Jeremy Horwitz…

i’ll time the transfers when the new ipod touches come out. My iphone is full, and its not worth freeing up space to prove a point…. its not lightning fast, but 1gb is going to take 30 mins maybe an hr… you cant expect the time capsule to load that much data in 5-10 mins.

the time that the TC takes to sync data might be slow for you.. but i’m used to using external hds, which dont load very fast either, plus the peace of mind that im not worrying about disk space….

and if you think the time capsule is slow(i disagree), i know you’d never try to download a movie on the iphone..

Posted by maroon_tiger on July 9, 2009 at 10:34 AM (CDT)


#8: With a pure USB 2.0 connection - about as slow as wired hard drives get these days - transferring the same 250GB library from one USB drive to another took three hours, or less than a third the time. While “very fast” is relative, there is no comparison between TC as a wireless drive and a USB drive; TC is way, way slower.

We did try to download a movie on the iPhone. That was also stupidly, pointlessly slow.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on July 9, 2009 at 11:10 AM (CDT)


What you need to compare is the difference between a separate NAS attached to a wireless router and see if that makes any difference. Comparing a wired HD to a NAS (which is what Time Capsule is) is not a fair comparison. I’ve got my old AEBS with a HD drive hooked up to it via the USB port and my iTunes and iPhoto libraries on the USB and it runs okay. Definitely, it’s usable and solves my needs of having access to the same libraries across different computers.

Posted by PS on July 20, 2009 at 2:26 PM (CDT)

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