My main router for the past six or so years was an Apple Time Machine that’s been dutifully handling the routing needs of the house here in Seattle. Before the move, it was the primary router in Solon as well.

In the past few weeks, I started getting random backup failures, but everything seemed to function normally generally. I chalked it up to a slowly dying hard drive; spinning drives eventually fail since it’s a mechanical bit of the system. I was going to throw in a new drive in the next few days and call it fixed.

The problem got worse on Tuesday. It stopped routing network traffic as well.

With two unrelated subsystems failing I’m suspecting a more fundamental problem. I’ll do an autopsy of it over the weekend and see what might have failed. My guess is that a capacitor has reached the end of its useful life. The thing with capacitors is that they are a heat-affected component; with the hard drive in the enclosure adding heat and a network switch in close proximity the electrolyte may have dried out of the cap. Once that happens you don’t have the rated capacity anymore. Without the capacitor, the power rails are no longer stable, and all sorts of things can start acting wonky.

But we’ll have to wait to see what’s inside to get a better idea.