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Summary:

While we were expecting new firmware for previous generation Airport Extreme and Time Capsule devices to drop this week, some will be disappointed that this update does not magically update the hardware as well. Airport Firmware 7.4.1 enables the Back to my Mac disk sharing feature […]

airportutilityWhile we were expecting new firmware for previous generation Airport Extreme and Time Capsule devices to drop this week, some will be disappointed that this update does not magically update the hardware as well.

Airport Firmware 7.4.1 enables the Back to my Mac disk sharing feature announced this week for previous generation Airport Extreme and Time Capsule devices. This release also updates the brand new Airport Extreme and Time Capsule devices with dual-band networking to fix a few bugs that were not caught in the initial release. It does not, however, enable dual-band networking or guest networking on older devices as that feature relies on the new hardware found in the Early 2009 versions of the Airport Extreme and Time Capsule. Airport Express users get no love (beyond bug fixes) as Air Disk sharing is not supported on those devices.

Here is the list of updates

For AirPort Extreme (Early 2009) and Time Capsule (Early 2009) that ship with firmware 7.4, the firmware 7.4.1 update:
  • Resolves an issue in which a client computer may be disconnected when waking from sleep
  • Addresses an issue in which redirecting SMTP port services may disable IP-layer networking
  • Improves the reliability of Back to My Mac-based disk sharing
  • Includes recent AirPort security updates

For AirPort Extreme with 802.11n (Fast Ethernet), AirPort Extreme with 802.11n (Gigabit Ethernet), AirPort Express with 802.11n, and original Time Capsule models, the firmware 7.4.1 update:

  • Enables remote administration and remote access to compatible USB connected drives via Back to My Mac (except on AirPort Express)
  • Improves reliability when backing up to a Time Capsule via Time Machine
  • Includes recent AirPort security updates

airport741

The Mobile Me features allow you to access files that are stored on a USB drive attached to your base station. I tested this earlier this morning with a spare USB drive. It could not be simpler to turn on the Back to my Mac feature in Airport Utility — you literally just type in your username and password. I then tried to hop on my neighbor’s Wi-Fi to see if I could see my drive. Unfortunately, my neighbor’s router does not support UPnP or NAT-PMP so I could not see my shared drive through Back to my Mac. I assume that if you are on two networks that support Back to my Mac, you would be able to see your shared drive just fine. Maybe I’ll wrap up my Airport instead of See’s Candies for them next Christmas.

You can still enable drive sharing over the WAN port as well, but this is a little different than the Back to my Mac sharing. Sharing over the WAN port just means filesharing via AFP or SMB, only enabled on the WAN ethernet port in addition to the LAN ports. The only disadvantage that this method has is that you have to know the IP address of your Airport base station to connect to it from a remote network. Back to my Mac gets around this by having the computer or Airport Extreme register their current IP address with the Mobile Me service. Your computer just checks in with Mobile Me to get the address of your Airport Extreme and then opens a connection to it.

wansharing

The other advantage of Back to my Mac is that ISP’s often lease out IP addresses for a limited period of time, after which they may change. Back to my Mac will update the IP address automatically on any change. If you do not have the Mobile Me service, you can accomplish the same result by registering your Airport’s public IP address with DynDNS or a similar service. If the Airport is providing NAT services to your local network, you could even set up a computer behind your Airport to automatically update this entry if the public IP address were to change.

Beyond the cool new features, I am glad to see that Time Machine reliability has been addressed for the Time Capsule. I have one client that was never able to get Time Machine to backup reliably to their Time Capsule. I am looking forward to trying this new firmware release, and I will let you all know if this firmware update fixes their situation in the comments below. If you have your own stories with Firmware 2.4.1, be sure to share them here.

  1. this firmware update finally fixed my fast ethernet AESB to see/share USB drives
    attached to the base station.

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  2. @Mikey: That is strange…it doesn’t fix mine….
    I don’t know why…

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  3. >Unfortunately, my neighbor’s router does not support UPnP or NAT-PMP so I could not see my shared drive through Back to my Mac.<

    Please, tell me what router to buy that DOES support this functionality!! I need one for office (DSL) and for home (cable) – and have tried to buy the only one I could find that said this, but it was “not available“ for purchase. TIA

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  4. @ Zanne: Hi! Please go to PCworld or an online store and look for these Router that support these feature…

    1.] DHCP enabled
    2.] NAT 2 / NAT 3
    3.] if your notebook wireless is a “G wireless”, please buy a router that has “G” or G+ compatible. If you’re thinking of getting an N router, please get the ones which has backwards compatibility.

    If you have any other enquiries, please ask…

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  5. Actually looks like the Mobile Me option DOES become available on the Airport Express!

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  6. AustinTexas Sunday, March 8, 2009

    After updating to firmware 7.4.1, I cannot connect to time capsule from a windows XP machine. Initially, I set up file sharing with a disk password.
    I also tried to connect to time capsule by turning off the firewall on the window XP machine, but still got no connection. Does any one experience a similar problem?

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  7. After updating to firmware 7.4.1 I cannot connect AirPort Express from a Vista machine. I have removed the password, “reverted to factory settings” and tried rolling back to v7.3 … all to no avail. Any one else having similar issues? ["Error -6753" often occurs, but that's not the only one]

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  8. [...] Airport Firmware 7.4.1 Update Available While we were expecting new firmware for previous generation Airport Extreme and Time Capsule devices to drop this [...] [...]

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  9. I upgraded to 7.4.1 form 7.3.2 and now My 802.11n network won’t reach past 15 feet. I used to be able to connect my laptop anywhere in the house and my AppleTV is about 50 feet away from the Airport. Now My laptop can’t leave the room with the Airport and my AppleTV can’t see the network at all. When I’m withing 15 feet of the Airport my laptop connects fine. Anyone else having these issues?

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  10. I just purchased the new dual radio N airport extreme and am using a single radio N AE to extend my N network. When I upgraded both routers to firmware 7.4.1 i got decreased network performance. It actually looked like G speeds. I verified the network name was correct.

    I rolled back the firmware to 7.3.2 on the single radio N AE and when I tried to save the changes would get a channel error. It gave me a menu only for channels 1-11. I had to rest the router to get things back to normal and my speeds are now back to good and N network is now on channel 149.

    That channel error and the reduced speed makes me suspect that the firmware on the single radio AE makes it operate at 2.4 Ghz or compatible mode.

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