Seagate drive flaw could damage your data stored on Time Capsule

A flaw discovered in the Seagate drives inside the AirPort Time Capsule routers is causing fatal failures for some Apple customers, potentially putting their personal data at risk.


  • The Seagate drive in your Time Capsule has a flaw
  • The issue could lead to drive failures for some
  • This may put your own data at risk

A photo of Apple AirPort Time Capsule

Some Apple users suffering from Time Capsule drive failures

When unveiling the original AirPort Time Capsule, Steve Jobs enthused over the fact that the NAS functionality utilizes an internal hard drive that Jobs called “server-grade.” The phrase was meant to give would-be shoppers peace of mind by suggesting their data would be safer if stored on a drive that might be used in servers than a traditional one.

But now, data recovery experts over at Datenrettung spotted a flay in the Seagate Grenada hard drives used in Time Capsules that could cause hardware failures. The drive’s parking ramp, which consists of two different materials, is the primary source of the issue.

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When the parking ramp breaks, it causes data being read or written to be damaged or severely deformed the next time the read/write head is parked. The greatest damage to the drive is done when the whole device wakes from sleep or is powered on. Doing so destroys data due to a malfunctioning read-write head dragging across the sensitive magnetic surface of the disk.

And when the drive fails, good luck recovering your data unless you bring the drive to a specialized data recovery service that may or may not salvage your data, at a pretty high cost.

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A capable router with a built-in NAS

Time Capsule debuted on February 29, 2008, as a great solution that combined a wireless router and network-attached storage (NAS) in one smoothly designed wireless appliance. The internal drive can be used as an external drive to store files on it, but Time Capsule also works in tandem with a macOS feature dubbed Time Machine to provide a seamless backup solution.

Other features include three Gigabyte Ethernet ports for fast local networking, another one for connecting the device to a router and a single USB port for plugging a peripheral device like a printer or another disk that can be shared with other users over the network.

The product was updated and redesigned several times, gaining a three-terabyte hard drive in 2013, before Apple disbanded its wireless router development team in 2016. Two years after that, Time Capsule and the other AirPort-branded accessories got officially discontinued.