Around a year ago I purchased a second hand time capsule to run backups for my macbook. I had previously created a raspberry pi solution, but it seemed somewhat unreliable, so I decided to buy a cheap(er…this is apple equipment after all) second hand, first generation, time capsule. It only has a 500GB hard drive, but my mac only has a 500GB SSD and I don’t back the entirety of it up. I basically wanted one so that if the macbook goes pop, I can replace it quickly and be back up and running without any hassle.

01 dead time capsule

I noticed recently that my mac was suggesting that it hadn’t completed a backup in some time. I checked the time capsule andI could see it on the network but I couldn’t find the actual hard disk inside it.

I decided a hard reset (push a pen into the small button on the back) might help and, to an extent, I was right. After the reset I could see on my Airport Utility that the disk was failing. I tried a format but it still was failing. As a result I decided to do some reading and found that this is fairly common (so much so that ifixit created a guide for replacing one).

Firstly we need to expose the screws. They’re on the under side and covered up by a rubber base.

02 this needs to be removed

This can be peeled off after applying a little heat. I used a low setting on a heat gun but apparently a hair dryer will work also.

03 heat gun and a mini spatula

After removal we can see the screws. We need to remove the 10 bigger screws.

04 screw points to remove

Now we can pry up the metal base by turning the time capsule so the ports on the rear are facing us and by prying the left side up.

05 lift this way to avoid breaking fan connection

After I had opened it I sat it on a spare box I had on the desk (a raspberry pi box of course) to avoid putting any strain on the connection for the fan.

06 resting on box to avoid damage to fan connection

Now we can remove the temperature sensor. It’s stuck down with some foam so we can just peel it off and keep it to one side for later.

07 removing temperature sensor

The hard drive should be clear so we can now remove the sata cables from the rear of it and remove the drive completely.

08 removing hard drive

Upon closer inspection, I can see exactly what the drive is. A seagate barracuda. Time to head to ebay to pick up a new (used) drive.

09 dead hard drive

Now we have an empty slot ready for our new drive to fit into. I’ll just have to wait for it to arrive before completing this repair.

10 empty time capsule

New drive arrived. As you can see it’s a little thinner. Time to put it in the time capsule.

11 new drive has arrived!

I’ve added the spacers from the old hard drive and I’ve unscrewed them slightly to try to fill the gap left on account of this difference in thickness between the old and new drive.

12 spacers added

13 replaced in chassis

I’ve attached the temperature sensor onto the new drive with the foam that I removed earlier.

Now a quick test to see if it works before fully rebuilding the time capsule.

14 testing before completion

The time capsule is showing a disk failure so I’m going to format it through “edit” and then the “disks” tab.

15 hard disk failure

16 erasing disk

That seems to have sorted it so now I need to put the screws in and reattach the rubber base.

17 working!

And we’re done…time for my first backup with the new drive.

Update The time capsule seems to be much quieter and doesn’t kick out as much heat after a week of running. Hopefully that will continue.