How to do an automated Time Machine backup without an AirPort Extreme or Time Capsule

I’ve used Apple’s AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule for many years. The best part about their Time Capsule is how easy it’s been to automatically backup my MacBook Pro and iMac at home.

Unfortunately, Apple is abandoning the development of their wireless routers. That means people will need to find a new solution for backing up their laptops and other macOS computers using Time Machine. Luckily, I’ve already found a solution that works even better than Apple’s AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule.

The ultimate WiFi network and automated backup solution for macOS

After doing a significant amount of research, I chose to buy the Netgear Nighthawk X8M and Drobo 5N to replace my AirPort Extreme and two Time Capsules.

The Nighthawk X8 is the best wireless access point and router I’ve ever owned. I was using my two Time Capsules to extend my WiFi network from my main AirPort Extreme access point. While it worked well, the connection speed wasn’t ever what it should have been, and it became very slow at the other end of my home. I replaced all three access points with just one Nighthawk X8 and now our Internet speed screams from any part of my home. It’s kind of amazing and I can’t believe I’ve lived with such mediocrity for so long.

For the automated Time Machine backups, I bought a Drobo 5N and connected it via ethernet to the Nighthawk X8. The Drobo 5N is a network drive that supports up to 5 interchangeable hard drives. Depending on how you configure it, Drobo can have 2 or more drives die and you still won’t lose any backup data. Drobo 5N also supports Time Machine backups and allows you to partition space for each computer to backup to.

Drobo supports Time Machine Backups

I sold my AirPort Extreme and two Time Capsules and now rely solely on the Nighthawk X8 for my WiFi network and the Drobo 5N to handle all of the automated Time Machine backups. So far it’s been flawless. Here’s my exact setup in case you want to do the same thing at your home: