Apple AirPort Time Capsules at Risk of Drive Failure

A design flaw could put your data at risk

Reports from experts have uncovered a design flaw that could lead to a part within the fifth generation Apple AirPort Time Capsule breaking and putting user data at risk.

The flaw in the AirPort Time Capsule’s internal design was discovered by Datenrettung Berlin, a German data recovery company. According to 9To5Mac, though Apple discontinued its AirPort Time Capsule in 2018, many Mac users continue to use it as a way to safely back up their data. Unfortunately, based on these new reports, that data could now be at risk.

Apple AirPort Time Capsule router


When designing the AirPort Time Capsules, Apple used Seagate Grenada hard drives to meet the device’s internal storage needs. According to Datenrettung, a flaw in the materials used to create those drives is the culprit of the issues that users now face.

"We must assume that this is an error in the design of the Seagate Grenada hard drive installed in the Time Capsule (ST3000DM001 / ST2000DM001 2014-2018). The parking ramp of this hard drive consists of two different materials. Sooner or later, the parking ramp will break on this hard drive model, installed in a rather poorly ventilated Time Capsule," the report reads.

"The damage to the parking ramp then causes the write/read unit to be destroyed and severely deformed the next time the read/write unit is parked. When the Time Capsule is turned on again or wakes up from hibernation, the data disks of the Seagate hard drive are destroyed because the deformed read-write unit drags onto it."

The break in the parking ramp that was discovered in AirPort Time Capsule devices

Datenrettung Berlin

The report also says that the design flaw is behind almost every failure that Datenrettung has witnessed in the AirPort Time Capsules, and that data lost to this issue may not be fully recoverable.

The company recommends looking for additional backup solutions, or even changing the hard drive used in the AirPort Time Capsule to a hard drive that does not suffer from that particular design flaw.

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