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Detailed Removal 2TB HD Plus Install 4TB HD + Formating

I'm wondering if you might show details of step by step removal of the stock 2TB Seagate and the step by step insertion and connection of a 4TB HGST drive plus formatting instructions. ie: do we need to format the 4TB drive before installing it in the Time Capsule or can we do that after it's installed?

Please forgive me if this is a stupid request. But the way you show the step by step so far makes a lot of leaps between steps and isn't really very detailed. I'm very nervous I'm gonna make a mistake because I can't see every gory detail you have skipped over. You take an aweful lot for granted in your explanation skipping an aweful lot between photographs. One photo shows the hard drive exposed followed by it being out with no way to tell how you got it out and how you got the 4TB drive in. You write how easy it is without showing us how you did it.

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The new AirPort teardown is Not intended to be a step by step repair guide (it only offers the differences between it and the new AirPort Extreme). Yes, one can leverage the teardown to at least open it up and poke around used in tandem with the AirPort Extreme teardown.


I recently bought a WD40E31X (4TB SSHD) disk and thought if it is a good idea to install it on the TC 2013 (2TB originally) or better use it as an external disk using a USB3 box.


It's a bit of a waste with the 8GB solid state nand part on the drive as it will not be utilized at a drive speed level. It will always be operating at the TCs network speed. But still it is a well priced drive anyway. Installing it in the TC is not easy. You need reasonable technical skills. It's far easier to put in in the USB box. Plus USB 2 is fine as again there is no benefit from it being USB3. The TC is USB2. Using USB3 or a SSHD drive will give no drive speed benefits. Personally I find the internal drive's read/write speeds are quicker because your operating at Gigabit ethernet speeds, while the USB port is restricted to USB2 speeds.

How did you format the drive? Which format did you use?


You format the drive in the AirPort Utility App in MacOS (in Utilities in Applications). Click on the Disks tab in the app. The format is as used by the App. You do not choose.

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I would say you would likely be one of the first to swap out the HD to a larger drive. Are you sure you need to do this?

So if you're game here take some pictures and write down what it took to swap the drive out. Then you too can become a famous IFIXIT author sharing your wealth of knowledge!

The only thing I can think of here is I would recommend using same drive within the same vendor & series Apple used in your unit.

As to the formatting the drive: No you don't need to do that before you put it in. If Apple followed the same path as the older Time Capsules you'll format it via the units firmware via the AirPort Utility from your computer.

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Thanks Dan. I already have a 4TB 7200 rpm 64MB cache HGST for this purpose. You'll note the Time Capsule author did install a 4TB drive in his as is showed in his Time Capsule System Preference screenshot. I was wondering why he didn't show us that process in his teardown.

So I guess you'll pickup the baton and write up a HD upgrade guide ;-}

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I upgraded the HDD in my 2013 2TB Time Capsule to a 4TB. It is possible as iFixit says but about the same level of difficulty as a hard drive replacement in a Mac mini if you have done that.

You will need some very thin spudgers to get the base off.

Also there are a few thin wire connectors that are not for the faint hearted.

Drive used: Seagate Barracuda 4TB 7200rpm (ST4000DX000). It is a hot running drive ordinarily but does not appear to heat the TC up (any different to what the 2TB did). Even with doing the initial backup of 5 Macs at once it did not get too hot. I am guessing the writing speed is not challenging for it, or the internal fan is efficient in moving the hot air from the top down out the vents in the base.

A few tips worth noting:

1. Find a very thin plastic, but stiff, spudger to get the base of. Two or more would help. The black base is a soft plastic and is marked easy. A thin spudger shouldn't leave any marks.

2. You need a torx kit. 8 from memory.

3. Connectors are very delicate. I used long flat tweezers as I have used on minis and MacBooks in the past.

4. I left the sata cable attached to the logic board and only levered it off the HDD.

5. HDD is a snug fit. I removed it by holding the device end gently letting the HDD drop out the bottom, being super careful it does not grab wiring. Move it side to side to ease it from the rubber edges holding it in inside.

5. The HDD is only held in with rubber edges. You may need to reposition the rubber up inside the unit with say a driver before you fit the new drive back in. It is very snug because the 4TB drive has a little more alloy on the edges. It fits fine though. There is no forcing it.

6. You need to format the HDD through 'erase' in the AirPort App when you boot back into the TC. You can rename it to what ever. I pre-formatted the drive in HFS+ but the AirPort app brings up a note to rebuild the drive anyway. It's a simple excercise in the app.

UPDATE: So I pulled the Time capsule apart after 14 months to check how dirty it was. Unfortunately is was really packed full of dust. I don't live in a dusty environment at all either. I was really surprised. There was dust on the transformer (inside) and on the outer blades of the fan. So I did a full clean with vacuum, soft brush and compressed air can.

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Watch the vacuum!! It is a killer. They tend to build up a static charge so you end up zapping your equipment - RIP. Just use the can'ed air and a soft paint brush.

HOW TO REMOVE THE DELICATE CONNECTORS mentioned in tip 3 above. The big one pulls away as you would expect - along the plane of the PCB. The two smaller ones, however, pull away almost perpendicular from the PCB.

DO NOT try to pull them away as you would normally expect such connectors to come off (ie, horizontal to the PCB). Forcing them in this direction will damage them; I nearly damaged mine until I eventually worked this out. Why noone - including iFixIt - mentions this (aside from a buried obscure comment I found somewhere after the event) is beyond me. It is indeed "a flick of the spudger" as iFixIt Teardown says, but it would help if they mentioned in which direction you have to flick the spudger!!

As mentioned, it's best to remove the hard drive connector from the hard drive and leave the cable on the PCB. It levers off easily with a small flathead.

Also, be careful when first opening the TC as it's easy to damage the cable to the reset button. Again, I nearly damaged mine as I didn't see how delicate it is but I was lucky.

This is quite an easy upgrade except for these connectors, which turned an easy job into a time consuming near disaster for this well-trained, experienced generalist technician.

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Dear all!

In the moment I have upgraded my TimeCapsule A1470 2TB with an 6TB HDD and it works perfect!!

Build in was the old drive, a Seagate Barracuda 2000GB.

The new HDD is a WD 6TB WD60EFRX red with SATA-III.

Speed is not the big problem (5400 rpm or more).

Why to upgrade? In our family we have 6 Macs (4 MBP, 2 MacMini) and now 2TB or 3TB is not enough any more and I didn´t want to add an additional external HDD to the TC. It is much more elegant with an internal 6TB-drive, isn´t it? All is working without anything of formatting the new drive before beginning. You can use the named HDD as it comes out of the box

Here the steps:

(always be very careful with the thin cables!!!)

1. Open the housing and remove the internal HDD (like ifixit has done).

2. Pull out the complete HDD-tray (see ifixit tear down).

3. Now you have to modify the rubber-holdings on the bottom and on the top in that way, the new drive fits exactly in there. For this please use a very sharp cutter.

4. Insert the complete tray with the upper rubber-edges into the white plastic-housing.

5. Slide in the new HDD (!!! be careful with cables!!!). It should now be fixed in the same way as the old one was. Fix all cables again, fix the 4 pieces of Torx again.

6. Close the black bottom. READY!

Now you have only to connect the TC with AC and network and open the Airport Utility software on your Mac. HDD needs to repair. So do this and format/delete and rename the HDD. After a few seconds all ist done! Fell free with a lot of new capacity!

Greetings from Germany,


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The rubber corners for the bottom of the drive need to be inserted into the case BEFORE attempting to put the drive in. Don't do what I did and install the corners first then attempt to push the drive in. You end up with the drive wedged part way in. Very hard to then extract it.

The WD 6TB Red I used required a second reformat before being ready for use.

Anyway thanks for these tips, a successful upgrade!

Would the Western Digital Red Pro 4TB 3.5-Inch 7200rpm 64MB Cache NAS Hard Drive (WD4002FFWX) work with this model as well? https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01CL6R7QU?pd_...

I can add that a Toshiba N300 6TB NAS Drive went in nicely and is currently backing up my MacBook Pro and External Drive. Check your old drive by pulling it out and checking in a drive enclosure for repair (>$30) and have a new drive standing by that you can return if you don't need it.

Spudger kits are 100% worth it. Also compressed air. The hardest part was judiciously modifying and placing the top and bottom rubber mounts.

Reattaching the wires took a steady hand, good cable routing/placement, good eyesight and a tweezer in one hand with a spudge tool in the other. It was kind of a zen moment, but not one to be overly anxious about.

The plug her in and use Airport Utility to erase and rename the disk. Add it to the Time Capsule preferences and off you go.

Good luck - it's awesome when the light goes green!

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Just exchanged the stock 2TB drive for a Seagate Archive 6TB drive. Ordered the 6TB from Amazon as a 'Backup Plus Desktop Drive'. Was expecting a 'Desktop version of the HD (based on online teardowns of the 5TB version), but found the Archive drive instead.

A few notes:

Didn't have a spudger handy, so used a couple of sturdy x-acto knives to pry the base off both units. The Airport was the trickier one, and I broke one of the plastic retaining tabs in the process. However it fits back together just fine (there are 8 retaining tabs in total I believe).

Removing the 3 tiny connectors from the circuit board is fiddly, so be gentle. Others have damaged theirs. The largest connector has side clips that need to be squeezed (I used small pliers) before lifting up towards you. The 2 tiny ones I very gently pried up under the cable with a small screwdriver. This lifts the cable end of the plug up, and gently levers the connector out. Returning the small connectors was simple - just press them straight down into their socket with your finger.

I removed the ribbon cable to the drive at the drive end (NOT at the circuit board). Gently pry the socket connector up from it's detent in the hard drive. It then can be pulled gently to the side, leaving the one end connected still to the circuit board.

Last cable to move is the mains power socket. It simply lifts out of a slot in the outer case.

Cutting the rubber 'shock bumpers' to fit the new drive was no problem (it has no machined lugs on the base, but the overall drive is the same size). Used x-acto knife and carefully cut where required. However, the bumpers become very thin in that corner, and may not provide quite as much protection after cutting.

Reassembly was very simple, with 2 notes:

The rubber base bumper (between the drive and retaining plate) must be pushed quite tight into the ends of the case. Otherwise there's insufficient clearance for the plastic outside base to reinstall. I used a flat screwdriver to press the rubber down in the corners. It ends up looking slightly 'curved' (further into the case at both ends) when finished.

The small retaining plate the holds the drive (and crossing cables) in place is quite a tight fit. I had to press hard on it to get the 4 short retaining screws started. The drive was properly seated, so perhaps the new drive is fractionally longer?

Overall, I'd say this was a very easy upgrade. I'm not a computer guy at all, but very comfortable with small hand tools, if that gives you any indication of the minor skill level required. Patience and care are the key to this job!

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I wanna check something with the HDD in my TimeCapsule, but will it be formatted if I put the HDD out of the TC and then later back in? Or does the TC recognize that it’s the same HDD and it just works?

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No changes will be done to the HDD content if you remove it from the TimeCapsule and put it back in.

I have done that with mine last week, plugged it out, connected the HDD to my Mac, brought it back into the TimeCapsule and it kept working as it used to.

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Well, thanks everyone here. Just U/G my Time Capsule to 4TB and the instructions/advice here was all great!

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I just followed these guides and successfully upgraded my TC with a 10TB drive, but when I formatted it, it only formatted it as a 2TB (the original drive size). What is the fix for this so that I have the full drive capacity? Help!

Thanks in advance

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I don't think there is a fix. 10TB drives were not envisaged back when the TC was designed/built. I do not know what the max capacity is, but 10 is likely too large for it to recognise. 6TB has been used successfully installed above.

Did you ever solve the issue with your 10TB drive?

I was wondering, if you took the new drive back out from the base station after it got formatted, would it be possible to connect it to a Mac and to use Disk Utility to expand the partition to use the full drive capacity?

There should be no particular issues with a 10TB drive. Did you format the drive on your Mac or using the TimeCapsule?

If you connect the drive to the Mac using a USB enclosure, it is possible that your enclosure does not support that size. However, the TimeCapsule software itself should be capable of handling 10TB as I do recall reading (in other iFixit Answers threads) that very large drives (12TB) worked fine. (I have also seen 16TB TimeCapsule sold on eBay but I have no idea if they worked.)

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Dropping by in 2023 to ask a question on this same subject because i want to undertake a DIY NAS project using the Airport Time Capsule. Has anyone successfully replaced the HDD with SSDs? I've searched far and wide and haven't seen anything on youtube or reddit.

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There is only one sata port. So you can use an SSD (one) not SSDs. Plus as said, there is not a traditional screw mount. It is press fit to a 3.5” form factor. So you will need brackets or Magiver it in place. 6TB appears to be the max size that is acceptable by the firmware. Plus you gain zero speed benefits. A HDD saturates the slow network bandwidth. An SSD will be no quicker. It may bring you hardware integrity benefits depending on your SSD. While you have it open, clean the fan and vents. They clog up in 2 years. Poor design.

Thanks for the response. So basically you are saying the Network bandwidth will be the bottleneck regardless of whether it is a high rpm HDD or SSD? I can get a bracket, i'm not sure what you mean by "Magiver." I've noted lots of people reporting the dust collection, it's almost as if it is a vacuum, sucking up all the dust.

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