Apple has updated its Time Machine, Time Capsule and AirPort Base Station software in order to enable the use of third-party hard drives as network storage volumes for Time Capsule.

Leopard users have been disappointed that Apple has not enabled use of third party drives with its AirPort Extreme Base Stations with Time Machine.

Time Machine is an innovative Leopard-only feature which can regularly back-up information on a Mac to a hard drive, in order that data can easily be recovered. All changes are saved by date, so a user can literally step back in time to find that missing data.

Users felt that if it were possible to use Time Capsule as a network disc for the system feature, then it should be possible to use drives attached to a Base Station; now it is.

Time Machine and AirPort Updates v1.0 is recommended for all users and includes compatibility improvements for using Time Machine with Time Capsule, as well as AirPort driver fixes.

The also available Time Capsule and AirPort Base Station (802.11n) Firmware 7.3.1 updates include bug fixes.

Although Apple’s release notes for its Wednesday updates don’t mention adding the ability for Time Machine to back up to a USB drive attached to an AirPort Extreme Base Station, numerous users reported that the feature had been introduced.