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Wireless Router with the same facilities as Apple Time Capsule

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Wireless Router with the same facilities as Apple Time Capsule

Postby BigRedX » Tue Sep 03, 2019 10:41 am

My 1st Gen Apple Time Capsule has died, and so I need an new wireless router. I could get a second-hand Time Capsule but I'd rather have something new. I don't need the NAS facilities.

Had a look at the wireless facilities of the Virgin Cable Modem it's attached to, but the wireless is very poor compared with Time Capsule.

I need to be able to hide the SSID.

Also to restrict wireless clients to ones with known MAC Addresses.

Must support 2.4GHz and 5GHz.

Bandwidth throttling for selected wireless clients would also be useful.

Any suggestions?
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Re: Wireless Router with the same facilities as Apple Time Capsule

Postby ConcertinaChap » Tue Sep 03, 2019 11:08 am

Routers by Draytek are expensive but versatile and have business grade security. Draytek also have a very good record of notifying customers and updating firmware if serious bugs are found.

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Re: Wireless Router with the same facilities as Apple Time Capsule

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Sep 03, 2019 11:24 am

Look at the Ubiquiti Unifi wi-fi routers. I use them here and am very impressed both with their coverage and reliability, as well as their total configurability.

https://www.ui.com/products/#default

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Re: Wireless Router with the same facilities as Apple Time Capsule

Postby Watchmaker » Tue Sep 03, 2019 11:38 am

I'm assuming you want to hide the SSID for security concerns. If so, you may be surprised to know there's no benefit from that tactic. Your wireless is still detectable.
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Re: Wireless Router with the same facilities as Apple Time Capsule

Postby BigRedX » Tue Sep 03, 2019 1:02 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:Look at the Ubiquiti Unifi wi-fi routers. I use them here and am very impressed both with their coverage and reliability, as well as their total configurability.

https://www.ui.com/products/#default

H

Thanks, the products look interesting, but the variety within the range is simply bewildering! What do I need for WiFi plus 4 ethernet ports that has all the features in my OP?
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Re: Wireless Router with the same facilities as Apple Time Capsule

Postby BigRedX » Tue Sep 03, 2019 1:05 pm

Watchmaker wrote:I'm assuming you want to hide the SSID for security concerns. If so, you may be surprised to know there's no benefit from that tactic. Your wireless is still detectable.

I'm completely aware of that. I just need to deter the casual WiFi snooper.
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Re: Wireless Router with the same facilities as Apple Time Capsule

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Sep 03, 2019 4:39 pm

BigRedX wrote:Thanks, the products look interesting, but the variety within the range is simply bewildering! What do I need for WiFi plus 4 ethernet ports that has all the features in my OP?

I'm not an Apple user, so I'm not entirely familiar with what facilities the time capsule provides. I thought it was just a wi-fi box -- hence my suggestion for the Unifi unit -- but it sounds like it has other facilities too...

4 Ethernet ports are easy to find -- there are countless multi-port routers around with varying levels of sophistication and speed.

Do you need a WAN input for a DSL broadband connection? If so, you'll need a gateway router of some sort (Ubiquiti do one... as do lots of others...)

Personally, I have a Plusnet modem which connects to a gigabit switch, along with a Unifi Long Range access point for the wi-fi (I've disabled the wi-fi in the Plusnet router because the Unifi unit provides much better signal strength and coverage around the house (and is mounted remotely from the incoming broadband line and modem). The Unifi unit supports guest wi-fi access which allows controlled access to the interweb but not to the internal network devices, and then the internal wi-fi has a hidden SSID so only those devices that need to know can access it.

But the Ubiquiti stuff is intended for professional IT installations and isn't exactly trivial to install and configure -- it's not Apple-simple plug'n'play.

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Re: Wireless Router with the same facilities as Apple Time Capsule

Postby CS70 » Tue Sep 03, 2019 10:32 pm

BigRedX wrote:My 1st Gen Apple Time Capsule has died, and so I need an new wireless router. I could get a second-hand Time Capsule but I'd rather have something new. I don't need the NAS facilities.

Had a look at the wireless facilities of the Virgin Cable Modem it's attached to, but the wireless is very poor compared with Time Capsule.

I need to be able to hide the SSID.

Also to restrict wireless clients to ones with known MAC Addresses.

Must support 2.4GHz and 5GHz.

Bandwidth throttling for selected wireless clients would also be useful.

Any suggestions?

Not totally sure, but isn't this time capsule thing simply a router with some storage attached which is visible from the network and can be used as a system backup destination?

In this case most good quality routers on sale these days do that as a matter of course, you just buy a USB hard disk, you attach it to the router via one of the onboard USB ports and voila', network-accessible storage. I have a disk attached to my ASUS router exactly for that reason.

The only difference is that the disk will be outside the casing rather than inside. And likely the router will be a little uglier - my asus has visible antennas and - horror - it's gonna be black!! That the reason of that (the antennas, not the color... black is probably ASUS saving on paint) is that it outperforms anything on this side of the galaxy as connection speed and multiplexing go. But that is incidental :D If you want the looks , then you're in appleland and I have no idea :)
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Re: Wireless Router with the same facilities as Apple Time Capsule

Postby BigRedX » Wed Sep 04, 2019 11:02 am

I thought I had made it fairly clear what I needed in my OP, but obviously not.

The most important feature is the ability to configure the WiFi with the same options that Apple's Time Capsule offers, particularly access via MAC address only. And ideally what I get to replace it should have a Mac-friendly user interface (or at leat a comprehensive manual that spells out all the features and exactly why I would want them - or not).

The Time Capsule was attached to a Virgin Media Cable Modem which offers WiFI, but that is very limited to little more than being able to switch it off and on.

Multiple ethernet ports would be useful but it needs to have at least two because of where it will be physically located in relation to the rest of the network equipment in my house. Looks are unimportant because it will be positioned with all the other "set and forget" equipment under the stairs.
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Re: Wireless Router with the same facilities as Apple Time Capsule

Postby CS70 » Wed Sep 04, 2019 11:19 am

Well hiding the SSID is standard absolutely everywhere and MAC filtering is quite ubiquitous in any good router. The ASUS has a Wireless MAC filter which you can enable/disable per band.

The only thing is the interface - most routers have a web based interface which may be a less seamless experience than having a Mac dialog. Still quite intuitive to use I would say, here's how it looks on the ASUS:

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Re: Wireless Router with the same facilities as Apple Time Capsule

Postby James Perrett » Wed Sep 04, 2019 4:32 pm

One of the good things about the Netgear routers that I've used has been the help panel on the right hand side of most of the config pages which explains all the settings that you can see at the time.
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Re: Wireless Router with the same facilities as Apple Time Capsule

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed Sep 04, 2019 5:09 pm

Yes, I've had a lot of different Netgear routers over the years -- some with ADSL inputs, some with WAN inputs (which is what it sounds like the OP requires), but all had all the facilities the OP requires -- hidden SSID, MAC filtering, four or more network ports and so on. And they've all been easy to set up via a built in web server....

...but no matter which model I had the wi-fi coverage has been okay but not great and never strong throughout the whole house (which is why I changed to the Unifi).
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Re: Wireless Router with the same facilities as Apple Time Capsule

Postby CS70 » Wed Sep 04, 2019 5:26 pm

That is where the Asus really shine, performance. They look like spiders and they cost a little more, but they’re as easy to set up as any other and reach absolutely everywhere.

My experience with Netgear stuff has been at best spotty, so I won’t buy any of their devices anytime soon , but hopefully their higher end products are better than I experienced.
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Re: Wireless Router with the same facilities as Apple Time Capsule

Postby wireman » Wed Sep 04, 2019 7:13 pm

BigRedX wrote:My 1st Gen Apple Time Capsule has died, and so I need an new wireless router. I could get a second-hand Time Capsule but I'd rather have something new. I don't need the NAS facilities.

Not what you want to hear but I would separate the requirements, even if you find something now that does what you want you could be in the same position in the future.
You might find a fancy router you can connect a USB disk to to use for Time Machine.

In relation to some other comments in this thread...

I gave up on Netgear when I realised they had no interest in continuing to provide new features for my fairly high-end router (specifically secure SMTP). I now use Ubiquity products and a NAS but these require a fair amount of setup expertise and expense.

As for hiding SSID and access control by MAC address, I don't know what that gains you. Ubiquity used to argue that there was no point in controlling access by MAC address even though people kept asking for it, not sure of the current situation.
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Re: Wireless Router with the same facilities as Apple Time Capsule

Postby James Perrett » Wed Sep 04, 2019 8:03 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:...but no matter which model I had the wi-fi coverage has been okay but not great and never strong throughout the whole house (which is why I changed to the Unifi).

Yes - Ubiquiti gear is great and we used their Bullet Access Points quite a bit for communicating with our robot subs - with ranges of over 2km. I just couldn't remember how good the web server help features were and they tend to be aimed at more knowledgeable users.
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Re: Wireless Router with the same facilities as Apple Time Capsule

Postby Watchmaker » Wed Sep 04, 2019 8:43 pm

I too use an Asus router (this one) and my network has multiple Apple and PCs connecting via RJ45, and wirelessly on both 5Ghz and 2,4Ghz without any problem at all. CS70's spot on on this. The wifi's have separately configurable credentials, and if you trust trend micro, there's some nifty QoS and other treats.

As a certified Information systems auditor I can definitively state that hiding your SSID is pointless. Restricting MAC addresses might buy you some time but seriously, if someone wants in, they're going to get in. If you're worried about data loss or intrusion, encrypt at the transport layer or below, but once someone's in, your toast anyway.
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Re: Wireless Router with the same facilities as Apple Time Capsule

Postby CS70 » Thu Sep 05, 2019 12:09 am

Price/performance, the Asus RT-AC86U is simply unbeatable at the moment.
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Re: Wireless Router with the same facilities as Apple Time Capsule

Postby cyrano.mac » Thu Sep 05, 2019 3:04 pm

There's nothing that can replace an Apple router and offer all of it's features.

First off, all other routers use a web-based interface. Apple doesn't. Apple's routers also don't run Linux, but either VxWorks, or BSD. It's not that Linux is a security risk, but most router makers don't seem to care. Hence their products are very much insecure. Apple didn't develop these in-house, but contracted a third party to do it.

Second, Apple routers support Bonjour* caching and mDNS. Only a few others do and usually it isn't even in the spec sheet. You need Bonjour caching if you use an Apple TV, Airdrop, or one of the related functions. All of this is hidden from the user.

If you don't have Bonjour caching, strange things might happen. Like your Apple TV waking up for no reason. Or your AirDrop connection trying to connect to the wrong device.

Now I don't know if any of this matters to your use case, but so much is hidden that it might land you in hair-pulling territory trying to it with another router.

If you think you don't need it, go Ubiquity. Security wise they come close to Apple's routers. Performance wise, they're better (will offer more wireless range). They also have regular updates to their OS, what lacks with most other brands. And they at least support Bonjour and mDNS (Bonjour partially, mDNS completely).

*For Rendez-vous, bonjour, zeroconfig and Avahi, see here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero-conf ... networking
Linux also supports this, but very few routers do.

And a lot of routers don't even go to sleep. That's my personal pet peeve, but multiply billions of devices with, say 10 watts per device and you can power a major city for free.
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Re: Wireless Router with the same facilities as Apple Time Capsule

Postby cyrano.mac » Thu Sep 05, 2019 3:15 pm

BigRedX wrote:My 1st Gen Apple Time Capsule has died...

If you're handy with a soldering iron, open it up and replace the PSU caps. There's a 95% chance these are responsible for the router's failure. These caps are underrated and die far too soon.
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