Time Capsule Memorial Web Site Launches, Shames Apple

Time Capsule MemorialEnterprising Apple customers unhappy with the inexplicable death of their Time Capsules have taken matters into their own hands and launched a dedicated web site to record and discuss their experiences. It’s called The Apple Time Capsule Memorial Register, and it’s hauntingly beautiful.

The site has been created to provide a central support hub for Time Capsule customers who have suffered the sudden death of their devices, but feel neglected or ignored by Apple, which has yet to acknowledge there’s even a problem.

It seems the main culprit in most cases of Time Capsule Death are fried capacitors. Users are reporting that the lack of adequate ventilation/cooling in the Time Capsules causes the capacitors to run very hot and, eventually, die. For affected customers, “eventually” turns out to be approximately 18 months.

Here’s the introduction from the site:

Your Apple Time Capsule has died. You are now faced with the difficult, but important, need to mourn.

To show that you’re not alone in this process, we’ve opened the Apple Time Capsule Memorial Register. Please take a moment and submit a few details of your beloved Time Capsule. You will instantly notice it will make you feel better but will also help others facing the same difficult period in their lives.

And hopefully, this register will also provide a reliable overview of the scale of the premature passing of Apple’s “server grade” backup solution.

Apple is accomplished in the art of making us part with our money in return for its beautiful, shiny products. It is somewhat less accomplished in admitting when things have gone wrong with those beautiful, shiny products. The recent drama surrounding the problems caused by the iPhone OS 3.1 update illustrates just how slow and stubbornly silent Apple can be when it comes to reacting to glaringly obvious problems with its products. Over 140 comments on that article tell me that the “coma” problem I wrote about last month — caused by OS 3.1 and experienced almost exclusively on iPhone 3G’s — was much, much more than just the “sporadic issue” Apple casually labeled it in the release notes for iPhone OS 3.1.2. Incidentally, to the best of my knowledge, that short line in the 3.1.2 release notes remains the only “official” confirmation from Apple that there was anything wrong.

Ticking Timebombs

The Time Capsule is one of Apple’s more indispensable peripherals; it offers hassle-free, automatic, over-the-air backups along with reasonable storage capacities. Sure, there are cheaper ways to emulate what a Time Capsule does, but the convenience of its simple set-it-and-forget-it nature makes the added expense seem justified.

Imagine, then, the pain when a well-used Time Capsule croaks, taking up to 18 months’ worth of incremental backups with it. I don’t mind admitting that the thought of it strikes fear into my heart. I use two Time Capsules every hour of every day. They’ve proven invaluable to me a handful of times. But these reported problems are making me think of dusting off my old external USB LaCies. I can’t help thinking that I don’t own two Time Capsules; I own two ticking Time bombs.

Apple still hasn’t acknowledged there’s a design problem with the Time Capsules. I wonder whether sites like The Apple Time Capsule Memorial Register could do a sufficient job of shaming Apple into admitting there’s an issue worthy of investigation. At the very least, a perfunctory “We’re working on it” would be better than nothing.

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