Time Capsule Password Fun

One of the reasons I have an awful lot of Apple hardware around the house is that it generally works without too much hassle.

Of course, the counterpoint to that is that when it isn’t working, it’s a right pain in the rear end.

Anyway, I noticed earlier today that my sixish-years-old Time Capsule / router wasn’t serving any wireless clients.  I think this has actually been an issue for a while, but they’d all quietly migrated to the WAP in a different room of the house so it had been a pretty quiet failure.  Rebooting the router got me wireless back, but now it wouldn’t pick up an internet connection from the cable modem for some reason.

Eventually, after I’d unplugged and replugged everything a few times, I had an internet connection and wireless clients and everything seemed more-or-less stable… but it also seemed like a good time to get a more modern router.

So I bought a new Time Capsule (“more modern” is relative), and I hooked it up, and for a while it seemed like it was going to be a simple fire-and-forget thing.

Five minutes later, it disappeared from the Airport Utility window and I couldn’t get it back.  I also couldn’t log in to it using the “Other Connections…” option in Airport Utility – that just gave me password failure errors.

It turns out that the router not showing up is known issue related to having a Back to My Mac username and password entered in the TC settings.  The password failure errors were… well, I assumed I’d typed it in wrong.  I later learned that this was not the case.

One of the handy things about the Time Capsule is that you can soft-reset it, which lets you log in with the default password of “public” for the next five minutes.  So I was able to get in and remove the Back to My Mac username, re-enter my device password, etc – and after a little more unplugging and replugging of devices, I seemed to have my network up and running again.

Then I went to set up Time Machine on one of the computers here, and IT kept giving me password failure errors as well.

Let me save you some tedious troubleshooting that followed, and give you the tl;dr version:

The Device Password for a Time Capsule defaults to your WPA key.  My WPA key is 35 characters, by the way.

The maximum length for a Time Capsule device password is 32 characters.  If you have a password over 32 characters, any excess characters are dropped.  The truncated password is then written to your Mac’s keychain, so logging into the device from that Mac will always work.

When trying to log in to the Time Capsule manually – either from the “Other Connections…” option in AU or when entering the device password in Time Machine – the extra characters are NOT truncated, so the entire 35-character password was passed to the Time Capsule, which looked at it and threw back a mismatch.  Because they didn’t match.

I don’t have enough hair to go pulling it out in frustration, but if I COULD get a grip on it, there would be huge tufts scattered around my desk chair right now.



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