On routers, Time Capsule, and Back to My Mac

This last week, I was working on getting Back to My Mac working on my computers. This requires everything in your router (specifically UPnP or NAT-PMP) to be working just so…and it wasn’t. :-) I had a Linksys BEFSR41, which is on Apple’s supported list, but no love. UPnP was enabled, but nothing.

So then I get the crazy idea to just unplug the router’s power, and then plug it back in. I mean, if all else fails, power cycle, right? Well lo and behold, it started working…who would have thunk? So then I’m playing with Back to my Mac, and it’s all looking good. For a while.

Then my router started getting flaky. Like, every few minutes it would stop responding in the admin interface, and connections to the internet would be stopped. The only way to fix it was to either wait a few minutes for it to come back, or power cycle it. Clearly this was not going to be ok.

So I went down to the Apple store (about 5 minutes away), and bought the last 500GB Time Capsule they had in stock. I was thinking about doing this anyway, since I wanted 802.11n in the house, but a dead router was a great excuse to do it sooner rather than later. Got the Time Capsule home, plugged it in, everything worked as expected. Actually, not everything worked right away – I had to power cycle my cable modem to get things talking to each other – but after that everything was great. And Back to My Mac is working fine.

On the storage side of things, I switched my Time Machine backups to use the drive in the Time Capsule; again, everything worked as expected. I’m seeing about 10MB/sec doing backups over a gigabit ethernet network – not stellar, but it’s fast enough for what I’m using it for. And it’s working about 5x faster than Glenn Fleishman is seeing in his Macworld first look, for some reason. I won’t complain about mine. :-)

6 thoughts on “On routers, Time Capsule, and Back to My Mac

  1. Evan DiBiase

    Awesome! Glad to hear that things are working out.

    I just wanted to let you know that, in my experience, cable modems bind themselves to the MAC address of the machine to which they are attached, and require a power cycle if you want them to work when networked in to a device with a different MAC address. So I think your issues there were probably more with the cable modem than with the Time Machine :-)

  2. Glenn Fleishman

    To be clear, I wrote a “first look,” which is prefaced and bracketed as a quick first pass — it’s not a review. I’ll have a review next week. So far, my testing using just PowerPC G4 equipment is showing really weird results. I can’t achieve more than 11 to 16 Mbit/s. I’ll be testing with Intel gear and gigabit Ethernet later. I haven’t even begun Wi-Fi testing. I would say there’s a processor problem, but I’m watching the same system that can’t top 11 Mbps via Time Machine to Time Capsule over 100 Mbps Ethernet do 100 Mbps via Time Machine to a directly connected FireWire 400 drive. Sure, FireWire is faster, but if you’re only using 10% of the raw signaling power to move data, then quadrupling that shouldn’t provide a 10x boost in data backup.

  3. gregr Post author

    @Evan – I think you’re right…that explanation is consistent with what I was seeing.

    @Glenn – I didn’t mean to imply otherwise; I’ve updated the article text to say “first look” instead of “review”. I was really just trying to say I was pleased that it was running faster than I expected…

  4. Brian R

    Off topic from the Apple Fanboy essence of the post, but…

    I’ve had a Linksys router for quite a while, and it seems like they’re a bit flaky all the time. About once a month my wireless will drop out and I’ll have to power cycle to router to get it back.

    There was also a known issue with some of the earlier versions of the firmware that if you used certain types of encryption then after 30-60 minutes the router would lock up. That was incredibly annoying to figure out. Sounds somewhat similar to the issues you were having as well.

  5. Mark

    I have never been able to get Back to My Mac to work… though I can get to my work Mac via Apple Remote Desktop and via IP based file sharing, Back to My Mac doesn’t work.

    I have a 802.11N Airport Extreme base station (100MBit ethernet) at home and my work mac is on a routable IP with my .mac account signed in on both ends.

    I have tried logging off of .mac on both (even done this via ARD), tried opening ports on my AEBS – and I haven’t had any success. Is this some sort of magic trick to get it to work?

  6. John Hancock

    I have ATT ADSL and airport extreme. When I try to configure the router to work with ‘back to my mac’ I get the message ‘double NAT’ with advise to put the airport extreme into bridge mode. When I put the airport extreme into bridge mode I get a message ‘you need to use a router that uses NAT!!

    What am I doing wrong? Please no smart remarks! I’m new to this stuff and I’m beginning to think this ‘back to my mac’ is joke!


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