Apple advertises its Time Capsule product primarily as a simple backup companion solution to its Leopard Time Machine Application. While this is certainly a great application, this Apple Insider Article points another great application, namely Time Capsule’s use as a simple server for home users.
For home users and small businesses with basic needs, Time Capsule (and the identical Extreme) provides a low cost, low maintenance, and extremely simple solution for providing centralized file sharing. In addition, both units can also be expanded via USB to share a standard printer and additional volumes on other external USB hard drives, using a USB hub if necessary.
For me, especially because I have not yet upgraded to Leopard, this is a more compelling feature. It would finally allow me to easily share my iTunes & iPhoto library’s at home without the need to have a dedicated server computer that’s always turned on. Since there are no complex file permissions this would also allow for easy file sharing between computers and between user accounts. Currently, whenever I need to share files between my user user account, my wife’s user account, and the admin account I use the shared folder (conveniently located in my Dock), however, file permissions always get in the way and frequently require me to change ownership via admin override.
Based on the tear-down pictures I must say that I am quite disappointed with the shortsightedness of Apple w/regard to future upgrades. To require a user to rip off the rubber bottom to access the unit’s inside is not necessary and certainly not very green; something Apple has been striving to become more like, or should I say to appear to become more like. Hard disk sizes increased dramatically over the last 10 years (I still remember my first 20 MB, yes, megabyte, HD back in 1987), and likely will continue to do so, such that it is not reasonable to expect customers to buy a new time capsule just to upgrade their disk size. Well yes, of course you can add external storage, but there is a premium to pay, both b/c an enclosure is needed and also because an external disk needs an external power supply.
Without use of the Time Machine functionality, the Time Capsule is of course not much more than a combined wireless base station and Network-attached storage (NAS) device. It has one huge advantage, and that is that is made by Apple and thus comes with a simple setup utility and without much doubt will work flawlessly with minimal effort.