Removing and Rehousing the Hard Drive From Your Dead Apple Time Capsule




If you're reading this, I'm going to assume that yours died and you want to get all your info off of it. Apple does not offer data recovery, and you could go to an apple certified place, the one I called here in LA told me it would cost somewhere between $300 and $1000. That's way out of my range for things that I already own. 

In this instructable I'm going to show you how to crack this badboy open, remove your HD and rehouse it so that you can save at least a hundred bucks. 

I bought my time capsule in '08 and it lasted longer than the 18 months many sites report to be the average lifespan. I did register it with, and that's where some of my research began. 

Luckily Apple was kind enough to send me a new one(even though mine was out of warranty) and all they asked was that I send them my old one. Most people get this far and then fret because while getting a new one is great, their files are still on the old one. I can tell you firsthand your files are still there and still fine, the part that seems to break most often with time capsules is something related to power source. Mine went out when the power went out in my living room, but then never turned back on. 

After politely explaining my predicament to apple, they re-arranged the order so that I could keep my old one, specifically to perform this experiment. Thank Apple!

I'm including my pics, much better pictures can be found here:

And here are much better instructions here :

Step 1: Take the Rubber Footing Off.

 Start at one of the corners and peel back the rubber footing. This was honestly the most difficult part of the entire process, mine came off in sections and not one clean chunk, which would've been cool for my now very expensive coaster. 

After you get the foot off, remove all of the screws, be sure to get the ones hiding under the glue. If it's difficult at all to remove the metal sheet then you haven't gotten all of the screws. Once you've gotten all the screws, be careful not to snap the wire that connects the two sides. 

Step 2: Taking the Hd Out

You can unplug the wire that connects the fan to the bottom part of the case, leaving you with the main section. The hard drive looks like what you'd think it looks like, at least to me. If you don't know where it is, I'm holding it in my hand in the third pic. 

It came out surprisingly easy, I think some of the screws from step one were also holding the drive in. Unplug the cable that are currently plugged into the drive and remove it. 

I put everything back together, I might use some part of it again in the future, who knows. 

Step 3: Buy a Housing and Put the Drive in It.

 First off, I'm not sure why these pics came out sideways. I know I was holding the camera upright, anywho, you'll get the meaning. You now need to buy a housing. I recommend the brand Acomdata because that's what I overheard the sales associate recommend. First I bought a Sabrent, but it broke halfway through me getting the drive installed. Just to cover my bases, the housing will house your old drive, protecting it, powering it, and giving it a usb hookup.  The sabrent was the cheapest and I paid for it with driving back and forth to fry's. The Acomdata was quick, easy, and looks nice to boot. 

Putting the drive in the housing is pretty straightforward, things only go together one way, so take your time and you'll get it right the first time. Know what kind of drive you have, in the apple time capsule case it's a 3.5 inch SATA drive, so I needed to find a 3.5 inch SATA compatible housing. It was a piece of cake, know that just because there are wires inside the housing, you don't necessarily have to use them all, reading the instructions can resolve this issue. 

In the final picture you can see my drive setting in the case-almost finished. 

Step 4: Plug It In, Turn It On.

 Get your case put together, plug everything in, hook the drive to your computer before you turn on the power to your drive. 

After being dead for more than a week, my time capsule(which I named The Delorean) came right back up with everything all there. There are a couple more drives that showed up called, "APconfic" and "APswap"...I don't know what they are and I'm not going to mess with them. I know the first time I tried to unmount one of them the entire thing unmounted, but I just unplugged the usb from my mac and plugged it right back in and they showed back up. 

In retrospect this is a brilliant product and I love it. I can use my computer anywhere in my network's range and have access to files/folders that are too large to keep on my macbook. I hope my new one doesn't poop out in a year or two, but if it does I'm just going to call apple again and keep my fingers crossed their customer service is still A+. Either way at this point they've already done me a solid, I've got 2 terabyte drives now for the price of 1 that I paid for in '08. 



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    17 Discussions


    1 year ago

    I've been reading this for over three years and finally decided it was time to try this and get my TC files back!

    This was so easy to follow and quick—less than an hour and i have access to all my old photos, music and things I thought may be lost forever!

    Again, thanks so much for this. I always knew the files were still there just waiting for me to get them, and this was SO easy to do, even for someone who has NO knowledge of taking apart and putting together external hard drives...


    2 years ago

    Followed your excellent instructions- removed hard drive from power failure time capsule- inserted in external enclosure but now it won't show start up = won't show in Disk Utility or on desktop... HELP / recommendations!


    3 years ago on Introduction

    Great!! Your post makes a feel that its a very easy task to remove the hard drive from apple time capsule.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    You can download Kernel data recovery
    for Mac software. This software is very fast, advance and helpful for
    mac data recovery. This tool is retrieve all deleted data from mac
    digital media.


    8 years ago on Step 3

    This is a simple method of saving data. I have done it hundreds of times for clients (Putting hard drives into external cases that is) and I have never had a non cooled one fail on me yet.  Seeing as i live in Tropical North Queensland Australia you would expect that they would fail beacuse of over heating but they don't.
    Good instructable. 

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Buzzinski, can you tell me how to access my old back-ups once i have completed this. My MACBOOK recognizes the time-capsule drive, but when i enter time machine to pull old files that I need recovered, it will only let me access the current state of the computer. Thanks a bunch.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I did this and the drive works. However, when i enter Time Machine to pull off some old files that inadvertently were deleted from my hard drive, I can only see the current status of the computer. When I hit back-up now, a white drive entitled back-up appears and I can quickly flip through here and see all the old back-ups, but do not have time to search through them before the back-up finishes and the drive 'back-up' drive disappears. What am I doing wrong here?

    The nerdling

    7 years ago on Introduction

    i found one all broken and dead with no hard drive and i have fixed it but i need a power suply


    8 years ago on Step 4

    Great! This makes me feel that I can probably rescue my files from my dead Mac Mini by following a similar procedure! Does anybody knows what kind of HD does the Mac Mini has? To buy the right housing that is.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    To help to get off the rubber backing, before beginning to peel it off, heat with a hair dryer. Continue to heat as you carefully peel the rubber back. This softens the glue, which allows it to come off much easier, usually without damage


    9 years ago on Step 4

    Nice, too bad it is a mac :)

    Might be cheaper for people to buy a 1TB 3.5" and a housing than a time capsule.

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

     definitely cheaper, although the bonus of the time capsule is the wireless router function, as well as the auto backups if you have a later mac os.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Rotating images is a easy as opening it in an image viewer and rotating the image then closing it (In Windows) or using the image editor provided (Artworks i think it is called)

    1 reply

    9 years ago on Step 3

    If I were you I would get an actively cooled case for my HDD. Had one crap out on me in a case that was similar to the one in your pics.