AirPort Extreme and USB Drives

by Erica Sadun

Apple just released a nice support doc detailing AirPort Extreme (802.11n) USB drive support. Looks like you can use HFS+, FAT16, or FAT32 with a 512-byte block size. (Apple notes that not all USB storage devices use 512-byte blocks.) No RAID volumes and no partitions allowed. (Update: At least that's the official word. In the comments below, Jason reports that he's had no problems using a 2-partition disk with his new AirPort Extreme.)


2007-02-23 11:55:02
I wonder if it will recognize a first primary partition or if it will really not work w/ multiple partitions.
2007-02-23 12:09:39
Funny, because I have a 500 GB WD MyBook with 2 partitions running just fine through my new AirPort...
Erica Sadun
2007-02-23 12:12:00
Jason: Thanks for the heads up! The official word is "The AirPort Extreme (802.11n) works with disks that have a single partition and are not RAID volumes (no more than one volume per physical disk)." I'm going to go edit in an update with your findings.
Steve Riggins
2007-02-23 12:46:44
I have a WD MyBook with 5 partitions working just fine.

2007-02-23 14:23:27
I have had no luck with the WD MyBook 1TB Pro Edition. I can see the physical device in the airport utility disk configuration but there is no volume information. This is a 2 disk unit RAID that can be configured as 1 TB or 500GB mirrored. I tried using it as 500GB mirrored and had no luck.
Adam Lindsay
2007-02-23 14:31:03
I am using multiple partitions with no problem whatsoever.
2007-02-23 18:11:18
I am also having no problems seeing partitions. In fact, I have two disks (each with two partitions) connected to a powered USB 2.0 hub with the hub uplink connected to the Airport Extreme 802.11n and it works fine (can see both disks and all four partitions). Also, my drives are formatted as HFSX Journaled, not HFS+ (HFSX is case sensitive, HFS+ is case insensitive).

Does the 512-byte block capability portend the future where we can switch to ZFS in Leopard on these disks? That's what I am banking on.

2007-03-02 16:39:34
I think you'll find that drives configured Raid 1 (2 disks mirrored) won't work... from what I've seen people have had some success with Raid 0 configured drives (two disks acting as one big disk).

This is a big bummer for people looking for a robust backup solution on the Mac os. If anyone knows of a good redundant NAS solution please let me know - would greatly appreciate

2007-04-15 13:37:30
For those who want to use large PC formated usb drive 40-2TB with Airport extreme:

Mikko Hagman
2008-04-02 06:42:57
My MyBook Pro 500GB does not work with AirPort Extreme. One HFS+ partition cannot be mounted. Tested also with 2 partitions. No luck. Latest firmware to WD installed. Also latest SW on Apple-side.


Extreme can handle my USB Flash Memory (can be mounted) so at the moment Extreme is NOT compatible with WD MyBook Pro 500GB. Damn!

Mikko Hagman
2008-04-07 21:18:07

I asked support from WD and they replied:
"I'm sorry but we do not support the drive connected to the Airport router.

The drive was designed to be direct connected to the computer and as you stated it works correctly when connected that way"

---> Do NOT buy WD MyBook drives if you are going to attach it into Extreme. WD sucks.