[Update: I think I found a fix - see here.]
Just when I thought I found a solution to my Airport Extreme Base Station issue, the problem crops up again.
To refresh: after installing the latest base station firmware (7.3.2) and the Airport Utility update (5.3.2), both my n-powered base station connection and my external USB hard drive went haywire. My iBook’s Airport card, nor my iPhone, would not recognize the base station. An Ethernet cord connected to the base station made Internet access possible, but any sort of wireless connection was a no go:
Even though my wireless card saw the base station, it wouldn’t connect. Weird, huh?
A few weeks ago, I followed an Apple Support forum poster’s advice by reverting back to the previous firmware, 7.3.1, and reinstalling the Airport Utility fresh from the disc that came with the base station. A fresh start, I hoped, and for a while it worked. Yesterday, though, I noticed my Airport wifi signal dropping out, and my iBook lost the ability to connect to the base station over wifi.
Worse, I lost the ability to connect to my USB drive. As soon as I tried to open up the Airport-connected drive, it signaled a disconnect. The file structure inside was messed up, too: iPhoto crashed immediately after opening as it searched for the drive’s iPhoto library, I couldn’t save files to folders beyond two or three levels deep (see here), and any backups pointing to the drive failed miserably.
Here I had set up a nice system on my new project PowerMac G4, where my iTunes library was synced from the external drive hooked up to the base station. Before, I thought it would be a non-starter because (a) the PowerMac doesn’t have an Airport card, and (b) it didn’t have OS X 10.4 Tiger or the updated Airport Utility. While searching the network, however, the PowerMac spotted the base station and allowed me to connect to the USB drive with a password:
No longer. When I try opening up the drive, it disappear in a cloud of aqua-colored smoke, giving me the above “server connection interrupted” message.
Running Disk Utility showed the drives had some sort of problem, but I’m not smart enough to figure what it means.
And I’m not the only one. Updating to the new firmware and Airport Utility has plagued others, too (in several Apple Support forums), even after the consensus said that reverting back to the previous firmware/utility versions solved the problem. It didn’t solve the problem. The problem came back, for me, after several weeks.
Resetting the base station doesn’t solve it. Unplugging it for a while doesn’t solve it. Resetting my cable modem doesn’t solve it. Disconnecting my USB drive doesn’t help. Even the old revert-back-to-a-previous-version method does nothing. The old strategy was to wait on system updates like this: watch what happens, see what problems erupt, and then download the fix. But who the hell knows when Apple will get a firmware or utility update out? Who would trust it when it is released?
This is a serious issue. Sure, Apple had enough trouble keeping MobileMe up and running, and soothing all the iPhone headaches, but given the choice between a cheap-o Linksys router and an Airport Extreme Base Station, buyers now have a better reason to go with the more affordable option. Who wants problems like these? When I can’t even back up my files without fear of crashing my whole system, Apple’s ease-of-use philosophy is in serious doubt. I can’t imagine what someone with half my patience would do.
It’s hard to put a number on how many base station users are affected by this, but judging from the multiple Apple Support forum discussions addressing this problem, I’d bet it’s no small deal.
Consider this a plea for help. Anyone else having a similar Airport Extreme Base Station issue?