Friday, September 28, 2012

File sharing with Time Capsule or AirPort Extreme - Secure with a disk password

For several years I've used a Time Capsule drive to share slide show images for our home machines and to quickly pass files between users and machines. The lack of permission enforcement is a feature, not a bug. [1] (I believe the AirPort Extreme can do this as well.)

For much of this time I did not secure the shared disks, I just enabled Read/Write Guest access. This seemed to work, but it was unreliable. OS X seemed to drop the connection and it took some time to reestablish it with a connection dialog that defaulted to username/password. I had to switch to guest.

This has gotten worse recently, perhaps because my Time Capsule WiFi is dying [2]. On a hunch I enabled "secure shared disks" and simply set a disk password:

Screen shot 2012 09 28 at 9 13 47 PM

I then connected from every machine and saved the password in the key chain. I left Guest as a read-only option.

Since doing that I think connections are much faster, and drops are much less frequent. I think sometimes OS X restores a dropped connection, whereas before it couldn't.

Wish I'd made that change years ago.

[1] It's rather hard to find out what operating system Apple uses with its Time Capsule and Extreme. I've read that at one time they used Wind River VxWorks, later NetBSD.
[2] Apple WiFi devices last longer than most, but even they seem to die after 3 years or so. I don't know why; I assume they die of overheating. 

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