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13 December, 2011

Airport Extreme Frimware 7.6 Upgrade Issues

Back in November (2011 for those from a different year), Apple released Airport Base Station and Time Capsule Firmware Update 7.6. The update was for 802.11n capable Airport Express, Extreme and Time Capsule devices. Since then, a number of folks on the Apple Discussion boards have reported issues in getting the upgrade to work. The chief complaint is network speed but as with many medicines, the symptoms are as numerous as breweries in San Diego.

In my case, my Time Capsule failed to reappear after the upgrade. At least it didn't appear until I went out for a coffee and came back about an hour later. Since then I haven't seen any issues. My network has 3 Airport devices; a Time Capsule, a 802.11n Airport Express and an old fashioned 802.11g Express.  Of course, only the 802.11n devices were upgraded.

Apple appears to be aware of the issue as their web page describing all the features of the update has been taken down. You can find a cached version via Google here. There are a couple of interesting bits about the issues people are running into.

1) Apple reccomended you make sure you are using Airport Utility 5.5.3 or later for the install. This implies that updating your Airport with an older version of the utility may result in issues.

2) People with multiple Airport devices on their network might be having more issues. That or they complain more on the discussion boards.

3) One poster claimed that Apple suggested making sure the Domain Name field (found under Internet - TCP/IP of Airport Utility) contain the same domain on all of your Airport devices.

4) Others claimed that reverting to an older Firmware version and then upgrading to 7.6 fixed the problem. Others of a different Mother claimed that had no effect except to waste precious time.

5) It appears that if you do get into an issue with 7.6, that resetting the device and then reverting to an earlier version of the Firmware puts things right.

My reccomendation -- If you like to tinker, go for the update but make sure you can revert to an earlier version of the firmware. Also, make a backup of your Airport's configuration.  For the rest of you, I'd hold off on the upgrade for now. I am sure Apple will issue a fix at some point.

As an aside, I picked up an Airport Extreme for a friend over Thanksgiving. It worked right out of the box. What did surprise me was that though it did not have the  7.6 Firmware the device did not come back and say "Update me!". Seems even the current stock of Airports know 7.6 has issues.

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