If you use one of Apple’s Time Capsule devices to backup your computer and data, you might want to switch to another backup solution. German data recovery company Datenrettung has published a report detailing a potential issue that could cause users of Apple’s 5th generation Time Capsule devices to lose their data.
In the report, Datenrettung says the Seagate Grenada hard drives Apple used inside it’s 5th-generation Time Capsule models (made between 2014–2018) are susceptible to failure as a result of the specific material used in the ‘parking ramp’ (where the reader heads sit when not in use) of the hard drives and compounded by the poor ventilation of the Time Capsule device. Specifically, Datenrettung says:
‘We must assume that this is an error in the design of the Seagate Grenada hard drive installed in the Time Capsule (ST3000DM001 / ST2000DM001). 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.’
Below is a video showing how the ‘parking ramp’ inside a hard drive works:
Datenrettung says this specific breakage is found in ‘almost 100%’ of all 5th generation Time Capsule failures its come across. And while data recovery is possible, Datenrettung says it might not salvage all data and is ‘very high effort.’
If you’re still using a Time Capsule to backup your data, Datenrutteng suggests transferring your data to a different drive to reduce the risk of failure. As pointed out by 9to5Mac, however, you could also mitigate the risk of failure by swapping out the harddrive inside the Time Capsule using this detailed guide from iFixit.