Restoring A Mac From A Time Capsule Back-Up Via the Ethernet Port

This is not publishing related at all, but since I can never remember how to do this on the rare occasions I’ve needed to, I thought maybe I’d post it here so I can actually find the steps in the future.

Whenever we’ve had to completely restore one of the office Macs from the Apple Time Capsule back-up (love that software, by the way, because I never have to worry if the staff is properly backing up), I always want to do the restore via the Ethernet ports instead of Wi-Fi since Wi-Fi could take 50+ hours for the amount of data we’re moving.

But it never seems to work.

Then I remember that there’s something I need to do to make it happen, but I can’t remember what, so I head to Google and I have no luck finding the information I need for some reason.

So then I end up using Wi-Fi and grumbling about it.

Today, though, I guess I finally entered the right combination of search terms because I found the answer: when you’re using the Apple Time Capsule’s Wi-Fi feature for your regular back-ups, the Ethernet ports on the Time Capsule are apparently turned off.

** So if you want to restore a back-up via Ethernet, here is what you need to do:

1) Open AirPort Utility on your Mac (in the Applications folder) — because I was setting up a brand new computer, I just used another computer on our network to do this

2) Click the Time Capsule

3) Click Manual Setup

4) Click the Wireless tab and change the setting for Wireless Mode to “Off”

5) Update to save settings and wait for the Time Capsule to restart

6) Connect an Ethernet cable to the Mac you want the data restored onto

7) Connect that Ethernet cable to one of the LAN ports on the Time Capsule

8) You are now ready to restore your back-up using Ethernet — just follow the regular steps from here

9) When you’re done, just remember to change the Wireless Mode for the Time Capsule to “Wi-Fi” so everyone’s computers can start backing up again.

Instead of taking 50+ hours today, I was done in 45 minutes.  So Future Brian, in case you forget, search for this post!


  1. HOLY CRAP!!! That is EXACTLY what I was attempting to do last night. I had an optical reading device and a hard drive that was about to crash when I took my Mac in back in March (about 4 days before the warranty expired – talk about great timing!). When I brough it back, the optical device worked for a few weeks, but then began acting up again. I took the Mac back to the store, and found out that the culprit was likely some old software that was running in the background which was making it act up. In the process of the diagnosis, we also determined that because the new hard drive was installed, the time capsule wasn’t recognizing the Mac any longer, and hadn’t backed anything up since early March. They wiped the new drive, and now, I’m having to manually restore the Mac from the last time capsule backup. I have to do this with all three users on the mac. When I realized that OSLion wasn’t reloaded, I had to go to iTunes, locate my downloads, and start the process….which …..has……been…….going…..on……since……..10:00…….last……night……

    • Ha, I feel your pain! One of our staffers has bad luck with technology and I’ve been through the process a few times. Yesterday was the first time I was able to use the Ethernet port for everything, which made it feel like a dream!

  2. Great solution, thanks! First restore was more than 12 hours and no success. With this procedure, all the work was done in less then 2 hours!

  3. Thanks! Read a lot of Mac-forums for the solution yesterday morning. Just like you I couldn’t find the link that helped me out with this problem a few months ago. Your solution is even easier!

  4. THANK YOU! Man I can’t believe this information isn’t everywhere. Thanks to you though, I won’t potentially lose a client tomorrow.

  5. I very very rarely (OK never) comment but felt I just had to this time. My transfer over WiFi was calculated to take 2 days. And since I couldn’t get the ethernet connection to work, I resorted to Google. Like you, I couldn’t find a solution and was prepared to wait for 2 days but suddenly I stumbled over this. All of a sudden, 2 days decreased to 4 hours. Thanks a lot!

  6. Oh, bugger! Why didn’t I google…

    Ah well, I may have another problem (shall know in a few hours): the TM/TC backup I’m currently restoring via WiFi may not have my main data at all, but I was able to copy parts of it to the spare machine yesterday with Finder. Awkward, BTW.

  7. Great post. I was pulling my hair out. Kinda ridiculous that it needs to be configured that way!

  8. Dude, I usually never post on anything but you saved me about 46 hours worth of time because I didn’t have to do it over wi-fi. Man, thanks for posting this…
    Detroit – #goblue

  9. Thanks bro! Same congrats that these other fellows have given you… you saved me a lot of time.

  10. I was in the same predicament of having to perform a full restore from a Time Capsule.

    Got it done in 4 hrs. But instead, I turned Wi-Fi off on the computer (not the Capsule). I then hooked the two via an ethernet cable and performed the back-up: no problems.

  11. Thanks for the info! The latest system seems not to require messing with settings, as Mike McClennan says.

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