Danger
Potentially Dangerous
Injury may result if this procedure is not followed properly. Use caution and follow all warnings.
Danger

Introduction

Outgrown your Time Capsule? This guide describes how to swap the hard drive in a Time Capsule A1470 from the original 2TB Seagate drive to a 6TB WD Green.

Warning Risk of Electric Shock:  Unplug the Time Capsule and disconnect the power cable and all other cables before you begin.  Be aware that internal capacitors can retain a dangerous charge.
  • Warning Risk of Electric Shock: Unplug the Time Capsule and disconnect the power cable and all other cables before you begin. Be aware that internal capacitors can retain a dangerous charge.

  • Tools used: Metal and plastic spudgers, Torx T8 screwdriver and tweezers (optional). The thin wooden chopstick shown on the right is for poking around inside the far end of the device, so it needs to be longer than the height of the Time Capsule.

  • You'll also need a scalpel, or small sharp craft knife.

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The base is held in place by twelve plastic retention lugs evenly spaced around the inside perimeter. Slide a thin strong spudger between the base and the body (not too far in) to gently prise the edge of the base up, while trying not to mark or dent the soft plastic. There are cables routed "too close for comfort" to the lugs at the front and back of the unit - so starting at the left or right side seems a safer bet.
  • The base is held in place by twelve plastic retention lugs evenly spaced around the inside perimeter.

  • Slide a thin strong spudger between the base and the body (not too far in) to gently prise the edge of the base up, while trying not to mark or dent the soft plastic.

  • There are cables routed "too close for comfort" to the lugs at the front and back of the unit - so starting at the left or right side seems a safer bet.

  • Once one side is unclipped, things get a touch easier - work gradually around the perimeter gently levering with the spudger until the base eventually pops off with a sound like a warranty vaporising.

  • Careful, as the white plastic casing may flex alarmingly, and the black plastic is quite thin in places - you can see a damaged loop here.

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A top metal plate, power cable, and three delicate looking cables guard the entrance to the cave hard drive bay. The power cable with socket attached lifts away easily. Removing four T8 Torx screws releases the plate. Use a T8 screwdriver, as it is difficult to gain purchase on the screws with an L-key and risks rounding them.
  • A top metal plate, power cable, and three delicate looking cables guard the entrance to the cave hard drive bay.

  • The power cable with socket attached lifts away easily.

  • Removing four T8 Torx screws releases the plate. Use a T8 screwdriver, as it is difficult to gain purchase on the screws with an L-key and risks rounding them.

  • Once the four screws are removed, the metal plate simply lifts away.

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Deck the Halls
With tools and Fix Kits
Disconnect three thin delicate cables from the PCB. The largest cable ① comes away without too much trouble, by sliding it gently in a same plane as the PCB - but the really small fragile connectors are a different story. The two smaller connectors ② & ③ do not disconnect like the first - despite appearances, they pull directly away from the PCB (credit Feanor - thank you - see references in conclusion). Place a small plastic spudger at the top of the two connectors, behind the wires and, pull gently forwards - click, off pops each connector.
  • Disconnect three thin delicate cables from the PCB. The largest cable ① comes away without too much trouble, by sliding it gently in a same plane as the PCB - but the really small fragile connectors are a different story.

  • The two smaller connectors ② & ③ do not disconnect like the first - despite appearances, they pull directly away from the PCB (credit Feanor - thank you - see references in conclusion).

  • Place a small plastic spudger at the top of the two connectors, behind the wires and, pull gently forwards - click, off pops each connector.

My connectors, for 2 & 3, did not pull directly away from the PCB. I tried that and it broke one pin on #2. On my model, they were designed to slide along the PCB.

Hal Vaughan - Reply

A rubber pad lifts grudgingly to reveal the hard drive beneath. Still can't extract it though - there's the combined drive SATA & power connector to ease off first. The SATA connector has a couple of lugs at either end - ease each up gently with the corner of a plastic spudger or tweezers and move the connector clear of the drive. The SATA connector has a couple of lugs at either end - ease each up gently with the corner of a plastic spudger or tweezers and move the connector clear of the drive.
  • A rubber pad lifts grudgingly to reveal the hard drive beneath. Still can't extract it though - there's the combined drive SATA & power connector to ease off first.

  • The SATA connector has a couple of lugs at either end - ease each up gently with the corner of a plastic spudger or tweezers and move the connector clear of the drive.

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Pull the drive out - it's a fairly tight fit. At the bottom of the hole are two rubber segments where the drive is usually seated. Unfortunately these are custom shaped to match the original hard drive shape exactly - and won't seat the new replacement drive going in which has a chunkier profile. The two rubber segments have to come out for trimming, and then placed back inside which is all quite fiddly but doable using a long thin wooden implement, such as a chopstick, to fish them out, and then prod them back into place. Confirm that the trimmed segments are both located back in the correct position at the bottom of the drive bay before proceeding.
  • Pull the drive out - it's a fairly tight fit. At the bottom of the hole are two rubber segments where the drive is usually seated. Unfortunately these are custom shaped to match the original hard drive shape exactly - and won't seat the new replacement drive going in which has a chunkier profile.

  • The two rubber segments have to come out for trimming, and then placed back inside which is all quite fiddly but doable using a long thin wooden implement, such as a chopstick, to fish them out, and then prod them back into place.

  • Confirm that the trimmed segments are both located back in the correct position at the bottom of the drive bay before proceeding.

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Slide the new drive into place, making sure no cables get caught up on the way in.  Ensure the drive is seated properly in the newly trimmed rubber segments, and not sitting proud of the enclosure. Reattach the drive SATA/Power connector. The top rubber pad also requires trimming bits off to accommodate the 6TB replacement drive.
  • Slide the new drive into place, making sure no cables get caught up on the way in. Ensure the drive is seated properly in the newly trimmed rubber segments, and not sitting proud of the enclosure.

  • Reattach the drive SATA/Power connector.

  • The top rubber pad also requires trimming bits off to accommodate the 6TB replacement drive.

6 TB this is maximum size support?

Ilia Bagaev - Reply

I saw that on Mac Rumors someone replaced it with an 8TB drive.

Andy Milne - Reply

The two delicate cable connectors are reconnected to the PCB by offering them into place then gently pressing them back onto their respective connections with the aforementioned wooden implement. The larger of the three connectors slides back into its socket without trouble.
  • The two delicate cable connectors are reconnected to the PCB by offering them into place then gently pressing them back onto their respective connections with the aforementioned wooden implement.

  • The larger of the three connectors slides back into its socket without trouble.

  • Offer the power cable and socket back into its holder on the inside of the case.

  • Reattach the metal plate using the four screws removed earlier with the Torx T8 screwdriver.

  • Finally, clip the black plastic base back on to close the unit up - and it's time to test...

  • Launch Airport Utility to check the disk is recognised OK, and erase it if necessary.

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66 other people completed this guide.

Cascade

Member since: 04/10/2016

2,163 Reputation

4 Guides authored

40 Comments

Considering the pain of pulling the base off the device, I'd recommend testing the new drive before putting that back on. I had an old Mac Mini with the same design, and it was an absolute pain to upgrade the RAM and HDD for the same reasons. Nothing like realizing that the SATA port isn't _quite_ seated right after reassembling the whole thing... O_O

David Rogers - Reply

Absolutely — as soon as you have the cables hooked up to the drive and board again, you can just plug the power cable into the jack even before re-seating it, check the drive out and then finish with the plate, power jack and base.

Geoffrey Wiseman -

Thank you for this step-by-step lesson. Apart from a skinned finger joint and playing hide and seek with a mounting screw, my 2TB Airport Time Capsule now has a 5TB Seagate drive that fit perfectly into the rubber mounting blocks. Those pesky micro connectors are not designed to be fitted by fat old Western fingers. And yes, having fiddled with Macs of yore, I too have leart it pays to test a drive in situ before reassembling.

chrislewis1 - Reply

I put in a WD Green 3 TB disk(WD30EZRX), everything came apart and went together fine, but when I started it back up, still have the same issue of "internal disk needs repair". Any ideas on what the problem might be?

C K - Reply

"Launch Airport Utility to check the disk is recognised OK, and erase it if necessary." Try repeating that last step in Airport Utility - your TimeCapsule may need to erase the disk itself before use.

Cascade -

When I go to airport utility, no disk is recognized. I've tried restarting and resetting the time capsule. If I go to the disks tab, the partitions list is just blank.

C K -

hi all if i dont have WD green wath you recomend?

Dionisie Vasilache - Reply

Thanks for this guide, I change 2 TB to 4 TB WD Green, and all is work perfect Now!!!

Dionisie Vasilache -

Hi guys! I want to know is it possible to put there the SSD drive to upgrade the speed read/write?! Is anybody do something?!

Stan - Reply

I'm wondering if it is the best to use an SSD in a Time Capsule. Wouldn't all of that writing shorten the life of the memory cells? For a back-up source, I'd be concerned about having it die on me just when I need it and since you can't really get access to the status of the memory cell health while in the Time Capsule, you'll never know when it is going to die.

Also, I see a Danger warning for this repair. At which step should I be careful about doing the repair? I know all, but just would like to know at what stage and what elements should I be careful not to touch.

SkipR - Reply

I just did this procedure... The old 3TB drive had failed. Thanks for the instructions.

One comment. If you use Seagate NAS drives then you don't need to modify the rubber pads as indicated in step 6. So a simpler replacement, with no mods.

Thanks again.

philgrocks - Reply

Used a Seagate IronWolf NAS, still had to trim the pads — so maybe don’t worry about which drive to buy (or if you’re doing it in person, just bring the pads and see if you can find a drive that fits them well.

Trimming the pads isn’t THAT much of a pain in the grand scheme of this project anyhow. I was much more worried about possibly snapping a cable.

Geoffrey Wiseman -

Dear Philgrocks,

do you mean Seagate NAS drives as the Seagate 10TB IronWolf Pro 7200RPM SATA 6Gb/s 256MB Cache 3.5-Inch NAS Hard Disk Drive (ST10000NE0004) that is available on Amazon?

Will this drive fit inside without need to modify the rubber pads?

Thanks for a kind answer.

Giorgio Piras - Reply

Just replaced a failed 2TB with a HGST Deskstar NAS 3.5-Inch 6TB 7200RPM SATA III from Amazon. Lower rubber pads required no modification, top rubber pad needed minor trimming. After booting it back up Airport Utility still said 'internal disk needs repair' so I did a quick erase as suggested and it works great now! Thanks for the instructions!

proud2beod - Reply

Can someone please be specific about what HD was originally in the Time Capsule? I'm kind of surprised it's not in the notes, not in the photos, nothing. I'd rather get the same/similar drive so I don't have to modify the rubber supports. I'd also like to be able to order the replacement ahead of time before opening the enclosure. Thanks.

Richard Forester - Reply

The introduction says it's a 2TB Seagate drive. I don't know what the original drive is in the 3TB Time Capsule, but see philgrocks and chrislewis1's comments posted above for a couple of replacement suggestions. This Time Capsule design A1470 has been available for several years, so it is possible that the internal drive used may vary over this period. The one removed from mine was a Seagate Barracuda 2000GB, Model ST2000DM001.

Cascade -

I used this guide to replace the old noisy fan. Not really easy but thanks to this guide I made it. Thanks

gedenis - Reply

Worked great no problem other than I broke one of the holes on the base while removing it but it reassembled with no problems. Hard to see all the small bits for an older guy might want to get a magnifying lens or similar.

Martin Zardecki - Reply

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.

https://www.amazon.com/Blue-SSHD-Desktop...

Cristian Contreras - Reply

Just replaced original Seagate Barracuda 2000GB with WD Blue 4TB. Replacement was straightforward other than trimming rubber drive holders to fit. Did a quick erase of drive and an upgrade of the Time Capsule software. Time Machine saw new drive right off and have the backup running!

Thanks....

Mike Kosche - Reply

used the seagate NAS 8 TB on sale from Amazon. Directions were perfect; reformatted and up and running; time around 1.5 hours because my trimming wasn't good enough the first time and the drive didn't sit down far enough for the metal plate/torx screws to go on nicely; slight re-do but everything worked great. PS. Pair of long nosed pliers worked well to remove and re-place the rubber pads at the bottom of the cavity for the hard drive.

Alex Abler - Reply

Confirmed it works fine with Seagate Barracuda 4TB ST4000DM005. Didn't need to trim rubber since it was replacing original Seagate Barracuda 2TB (same profile). Thanks.

dadioh - Reply

Thanks a lot for the guide. I managed to replace the HDD by a WD Blue 6 TB drive WD60EZRZ. Has been working fine so far.

Christoph Hollwich - Reply

Thanks for good instructions; just replaced a failing drive with a Seagate ST8000NM0055 (8TB).

One hint for step four: the three cables are routed together across the top of the drive. Gently pulling them apart and away from the rubber pad on the top of the drive makes them a little easier to get off the PCB.

Bradley Dilger - Reply

Hello and congrats for the guide. However while trying to remove the drive I accidentally pulled the small cables and bent their insertion points in shown in step 4 point 2. Does anyone have an idea if they relate to the disk or the router part? in case they relate to the disk could I still use it as a router in case the connections are damaged?

Thank you

mla - Reply

I have exactly the same issue: two smaller connectors are so small and I broke it !

---> Good news, the TC look working fine without ... Any people know the usage ?

clarennequentin -

Why a GREEN? >>> Green is not suitable for 24/7 operation.

WD RED is for a NAS enclosure, like the time capsule.

Benefits of RED (8TB):

High speed (serial 180 MB / s) for the hard disk to 5,400 rev / min

Low power consumption

Moderate noise levels

Optimized for 24×7 in NAS systems

bowers.matthew - Reply

Thanks for instructions, replaced the drive with a 6TB Toshiba TOSHIBA X300 HDWE160 7200 rpm, 128MB buffer. Looks fine.

Evren Er - Reply

Does anyone know the exact specs of the 2 small connectors? Are they JST connectors?

Aurelien - Reply

I just installed a WD Red Pro 6TB in my 2013 TC. The old drive just went away, could not access it. After I removed it I tried to access it using a drive doc connected to my iMac with USB, and it could be seen, but when I tried to reformat with secure erase it had errors.

When I started the TC, the Air Port util said it was possibly overheating, and the fan came on full blast. I checked my cables, and re-seated the larger of the three cables. When I powered it up again I still had the error message, but the fan did not come on. I was able to format the disk, and I quit out of the Air Port util, and restarted the AP util, and everything was normal. I am now backing my iMac and MacBook Pro. Our household also has another iMac and Mac Book which I will back up tomorrow. I used the 6TB WD Red Pro only because I had one "on the shelf", but it is a very good disk that hopefully will last a long time. Been on 7 hours and running cool. At the prices, why fool with anything else?

Eric - Reply

I just successfully finished the replacement of the 3TB Baracuda drive by a 4TB WD red drive. I initially tried it with my own old Tools, but failed in steps 3/4. I then bought your tool box and due to the better tools (namely the blue plastic parts) I could remove the old drive. In order to put the newly trimmed rubber segments in place I set them in place on the new drive and used OKS 1110 Multi-Silicone Grease to coat the outer parts of the rubber segments. This made it possible to insert the drive and the rubber segments much more easily into the cave.

Thanks for the good description. Full points for the author.

Albrecht Däweritz - Reply

Thank you so much for the instructions! I just successfully finished the replacement with (Seagate ST10000NE0004 Iron Wolf Pro 10TB Internal Hard) and I can confirm everything works just fine.

https://www.amazon.de/gp/product/B01M4FU...

Note: Both rubber pads inside will still need to be slightly trimmed as written in "Step 6".

Daniel Brown - Reply

I just destroyed my time capsule trying to do step 4 getting wires 2 and 3 off. I think mine had become fused to the board because mine is as old as possible since I got mine when first released. BE CAREFUL if you try to do this to a model that has been in place for a long time.

Mike Schinkel - Reply

Interesting but unnecessary. Just buy a standard USB 3 2.5” drive and connect it via USB to the capsule. Won’t look really fancy - but devices like a TimeCapsule are normally placed out of direct sight. The advantage is, that you can easily replace the external drive and extend it with a better model from time to time without risk of damage and within no time. External 2.5” drives are available with drives up to 4 TB and do not need external power source. So you would have the internal memory + external memory. It’s that simple ;-)

Gumba Mumba - Reply

Ah… And do not waste money on SSDs. You won’t have any advantage. Wireless is slow, USB is a bit faster but not comparable to SATA interface (regardless if SATA I, II or III - okay, if you have connection via USB 3, that SATA I and II will be slower). WIFI brings up to 1 GBit / s under ideal circumstances. USB 3 will bring up to 5 GBit / s - but has some latency and overhead. SATA III will bring 6 GBit/s. It doesn’t matter if you put a SSD into the case or not - it’s just waste of money and reliability. The TimeCapsule is not a NAS - it’s intended for use as backup device. Use a enterprise grade hard drive for backup /archiving. It may be a bit slow compared to NAS drives or SSDs, but for TimeCapsule it is fast enough and - more important - extremely reliable.

Gumba Mumba - Reply

I can install 10TB or 8TB hdd ?

Ilia Bagaev - Reply

I had no problem with 6 TB drive, installed in August and still working great, but I have no idea if there is a size limit. Apple only sells 2 TB and 3 TB versions, but since 6 TB has worked, even larger drives may work, you just have to try and see. Be careful with the cables, they are very delicate.

Eric - Reply

Installed a 6GB Seagate NAS drive to replace the 3GB Seagate Barracuda that was in there. This is like my fourth 3GB Barracuda to die on me, thanks, Seagate. I didn’t even know that’s what was in this Time Capsule, or I would have expected this hard drive death sooner.

Was hoping that by getting the Seagate NAS, I wouldn’t have to trim the rubber, but I had to trim it quite a bit anyway. The cables are super-finicky — delicate, with not a lot of extra slack, and I had to do it twice because I didn't trim enough the first time. Still, all went well, nothing broke in a serious way during the replacement, and the drive is recognized.

If Apple would update these with newer hardware, mesh networking and higher capacity drives, I’d probably just have bought another one, but I couldn’t handle spending $500 for out-of-date hardware, so I ended up doing this instead.

I am waiting for first backup to complete. Thanks for the solid replacement guide.

Geoffrey Wiseman - Reply

This guide was great — I successfully upgraded my hard drive (6TB WD Green) and replaced the fan due to continuous warnings about over heating. The fan replacement required removal of the entire unit from the white enclosure and with some careful examination it is clear how this all comes apart and fits together… would be good to have a guide that walks through all the steps involved in doing a fan replacement since that seems to be a common problem. I am now happily using my new 6TB, cool (due to new fan) device.

Larry Henry - Reply

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