Experts are warning Apple Time Capsule users of a potential flaw in the Seagate hard drives used inside the Time Capsules that could put their data at risk. The issue could affect users that rely on the Time Capsules for backup. Although Apple discontinued the combination router and hard drive back in 2018, many users still use the device.
Apple AirPort Time Capsule Drive Failures
German data recovery company Datenrettung Berlin (via Golem) reports that Apple used Seagate Grenada hard drives, which are now apparently suffering from a design flaw that is leading to abnormally high failure rates.
We must assume that this is an error in the design1 of the Seagate Grenada hard drive installed in the Time Capsule (ST3000DM001 / ST2000DM001 2014-2018). The parking ramp of this hard drive consists of two different materials. Sooner or later, the parking ramp will break on this hard drive model, installed in a rather poorly ventilated Time Capsule.
The damage to the parking ramp then causes the write/read unit to be destroyed and severely deformed the next time the read/write unit is parked. When the Time Capsule is now turned on again or wakes up from hibernation, the data disks of the Seagate hard drive are destroyed because the deformed read-write unit drags onto it.
The company says that this flaw in the Seagate drive design is the cause behind nearly every Time Capsule failure it has seen. While data recovery is said to be sometimes possible, it requires “very high effort,” and in some cases, the data on the drive is not fully recoverable.
Datenrettung recommends if you are still using a Time Capsule, to back up your important data as soon as possible and then remove the device before it is too late.
Affected Time Capsule Devices
The devices that showed almost 100% identical damage without a user error being present are the Time Capsule devices of the 5th generation.
2TB ME177Z / A with Seagate Grenada ST2000Dm001
3TB ME182Z / A with Seagate Grenada ST3000DM001
As noted by 9to5Mac, iFixit offers a detailed guide on how you can swap the hard drive in an AirPort Time Capsule for another, more reliable alternative.