Apple’s new Airport Extreme N base station has a neat feature called AirDisk. You can attach drives to the USB 2 port on the base station and share them with users on your network, or over the internet apparently.

Installation is easy. With the Airport Utility, you click Disks and choose how you want to share the drives you might attach. You can simply use the same password as the base station, assign a password to access the disks, or create disk accounts with privileges.

I chose to assign a single disk password. I pressed Update to save my changes and the base station rebooted. I found this fairly poor, as if I want to do basic disk administration, I have to knock off other users who might be using Skype, etc. You should not have to reboot the base station to change anything other than WAN settings.

I attach my drive and my laptop says “hey, I see new drives!” because I had installed the Airport software. I told it to mount the drives and gave it the password. Instantly they showed up.

Disk performance is poor. Over gigabit ethernet to the base station (which only has 100/10) I got roughly 700K/s to the drive. I don’t know how this compares if the drive is attached directly to the computer, but I will test later and update.

I do however think this will be nice for Time Machine in Leopard. What one could do is have one time machine drive per computer in the house. Attach it directly via firewire and let time machine do its full backup. Then attach it to a hub in the base station and let the nightly backups happen, slower of course, but they should be much less data.

This way, the drives won’t need to always be on the machine, which in the case of a laptop, is nice.


  1. I replaced a great DLink DIR-655 Extreme N Gigabit router with the latest Airport Extreme with Gigabit in order to get the Airdisk. All functions ok except Airdisk, which does not work on my mixed PC/Mac network. I now know that Apple’s definition of “Windows Compatibility” is this: If you convert your 400gb NTFS drive into a 32gb FAT32 drive, Airdisk will be Windows compatible! AirDisk requires FAT32 and a single partition to work with Win. This is 2007, Apple folks. THis is not high tech, or compatibility.

  2. Well this is not up-to-date but as it’s a high toped google link, I’ll just put some corrections. As we know now, it’s NOT possible to time machine to any airport disk. Only to Time Capsule.

    And secondly, you can’t attach your drive locally then put it on another computer (not airdisk I just said it) and do a time machine backup over network, because it use another way to do it. Locally it makes a folder and work in it, over network it creates a sparse image file.

    Worst, you can’t do a time machine backup on your time capsule with ethernet plug then via airport, because it use the mac address… Well for that I have to say it’s not nice… I tried network backup, it’s not wrong to say 80GB needs btw 12-24 hours. REALLY LONG. 🙂

  3. haybarn, before you start being foul mouthed about apple products (which you were already aware of), Let me tell you that it is MICROSOFT who prvents you from having FAT32 disk larger than 32GB. I can anytime format a 200GB FAT32 partition even on leopard!!!

    And talking about compatibility, I think it’s MICROSOFT who is trying their best to “not be compatible” with the rest of the world, a.k.a. linux and all other open system!!!

  4. Seb, Apple updated the airport extreme. You can now use it plus a usb drive for time machine, instead of buying a time capsule.

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