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Backup strategy for MacBook Air for college student

Kiran has a MacBook Air which we just purchased as both high-school graduation (2019) and birthday gift (November). We did the same for her sibling in 2017. When she starts college next year I want her to be somewhat self-sufficient when it comes to tech support. I was thinking through the options for backing up her MacBook Air, and I realised that a Time Capsule would not be a viable solution.

Based on our visit to the college tour, we learned that the colleges she is considering (Oberlin, Smith, Mount Holyoke, etc.) provide campus-wide W-Fi. There are no Ethernet ports in the student residence rooms to connect a wireless access point or router. For the Apple Time Capsule, it could not be connected physically to a router or an Ethernet port. It’s also not possible to connect the Time Capsule to the campus Wi-Fi as a Wi-Fi extender.

The bottom line here is that the Time Capsule has been designed to connect permanently to wired Ethernet, college residence halls do not have Ethernet, my daughter will need an external hard drive to use with Time Machine.

2 comments

  1. Hi!
    I’ve missed this post in the feeds, anyway…

    Why did you need an internet connection for the Time Capsule? A friend of mine uses the backup solution offered by that using a private network, different from the cabled connection with public IP that his main Mac has.

    So, I was wondering, Kiran could be connected via wi-fi over the campus broadband connection, and locally to her TC via a private network using an ethernet adapter. What I am missing in the scenario?

    1. The newer Apple Time Capsule had no Ethernet port; WiFi only. The campus network does not offer ethernet, only WiFi. Just like a secure corporate WiFi network, access also requires a login, and devices are isolated and can’t communicate with each other. So, there would be no way to connect the Time Capsule to the campus WiFi network and have her MacBook Air access it.

      So we the decided that the easiest solution was to use an external drive.

      My other child had a similar experience. The campus WiFi signal was weak so we bought a router to connect to the Ethernet port in the room. But the university uses NAC and routers are blocked.

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