Apple brings back Leopard feature with update, but users report problems

Apple issued firmware updates for its AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule base stations late Wednesday, bringing back a feature it initially touted for Mac OS X Leopard, but later dropped.

AirPort Disk was supposed to allow users to hook up an external hard drive to their AirPort Extreme base stations and perform automated backups using Leopard's new Time Machine feature. Shortly before the operating system launched last October, however, the feature was removed from Apple's Web site.

Although Leopard was able to transfer files to an external drive connected to the AirPort, backups were not possible; Time Machine would not recognize the disk was available to it. In addition, Leopard had problems reliably detecting some drives and making them available to users over the network.

Apple has reportedly been working on the bug in conjunction with the launch of Time Capsule, the company's new wireless base station that has a hard drive built into it specifically for backups with Time Machine.

Version 7.3.1 of the AirPort firmware was released Wednesday to remedy the situation and add the external backup functionality to standard AirPort Extreme base stations, as well as the Time Capsule for those needing even more storage space.

Users haven't been completely pleased with the new updates, however, with reports of bugs strewn across Apple's discussion boards. According to a number of posters, the 7.3.1 firmware breaks the ability for a user to forward all incoming traffic to a single computer, a setting typically called the DMZ and useful for gamers and those connecting to a VPN.

Time Capsule has problems of its own, as the base station crashes and requires a factory reset when a user sets up port forwarding across a range of ports.

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