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External Hard Drive for backing up simple home network - recommendations

 
 
cymbalzzz
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      06-30-2006
I have searched the newsgroups, and I cannot find a simple answer to my
situation.

I have two Dell Inspiron laptops in two bedrooms/home offices (mine and
my husband's). We share a DSL connection via a Linksys Wireless router
and internal wireless cards on the laptops/notebooks. I do have shared
folders set up on each laptop, simply for the convenience of not having
to have duplicate folders on each machine, since we work together (ugh)
and access some of the same files. I also have the B&W laser printer
in his office set to share so I can use it, and the same for the color
laser printer in my office, so he can access it.

I have recently migrated all of my iTunes/music files to his computer,
since mine was beginning to run low on HD space, and his has plenty.

I'm getting nervous about backing up. My several attempts to do so via
DVD and various software package evaulations have been dismal. I've
decided I need to go the route of an external hard drive.

My question: I don't fully understand the
purposes/capabilities/requirements/benefits of NAS external drives
versus plain 'ole external hard drives. I don't need to move the files
to the external drive for dual access; I simply want to make backing up
both these machines simple as possible. Do I need a network external
hard drive? If so, that's fine, and I'll buy one today. If I buy a
plain 'ole external hard drive, will I run into problems backing up his
machine too? (I don't want to physically move this thing -- I want to
set it up and push a button and forget it -- and set it up to backup
both machines each night or every couple of days. Does an NAS offer me
any benefits which might be attractive? I am looking to buy at least
400 gb and perhaps 500, since my music collection is getting rather
large, and I plan on beginning a huge photo archival project in the
very near future. I worry about hurricane season being upon us again
and not having my disaster plan down pat.

I certainly appreciate any insight/help anyone might give me -- or any
direction/links to lead me to a source of information.

Thanks!
Sara in Cajun Country.

 
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ato_zee@hotmail.com
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Posts: n/a
 
      06-30-2006

On 30-Jun-2006, "cymbalzzz" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

> I certainly appreciate any insight/help anyone might give me -- or any
> direction/links to lead me to a source of information.


You could choose USB external drives, I like the
principle of 2 independent copies. With the drives switched
off there is no way that a destructive virus or system
malfunction can wipe everything.
In too many cases the tale of woe is my drive(s) are
unreadable.
Switched off is less wear on the drives. I keep one remote,
as protection against fire, flood, theft, lightning strike,
and I rotate the backup drives.
With a C:\ XP drive, and a D:\ data drive, I use Ghost to
backup the XP drive, and FileBack V4.0 to backup the
data drive to a folder called D. the drive hierachy of
files is retained, uncompressed or altered, if
it came to the worst case scenario the data could
be read by any (or a replacement) PC.
If you have to replace the PC you can buy one
over the counter, with XP and a basic software suite
pre-installed, plug into the USB and you can access
everything. I wouldn't in a crisis want to struggle with
getting NAS working, hoping that the data could be
accessed.
I chose 250GB Diamond Max 10's but you can
choose any size, some ready built external USB
drives come with backup software, but I bought
the drives and enclosures separately.
Note that first generation PATA drives aren't exactly
fast, there are now faster PATA drives, even so a
300GB backup would take some time
Whatever you go for check out how long a 300GB
backup will take.
I've had two total drive failures, and one a dying fast
of bad sectors. One was an IBM Deathstar.
I need to recover reliably and quickly from
catastrophy. Yes I've tested the restore of both
OS and data. An OS restore to different HW
isn't always successful, XP may boot, find new
hardware and sort itself out, but it might not.
So my plan covers the not.
 
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=?Utf-8?B?RnJhbmtDaGlu?=
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      06-30-2006

Here's the way I do it.

At home, I have a laptop, and my wife uses a desktop, both connected to a
router wirelessly, and we use these machines to enter data. Then we have a
third desktop we keep on from 5:00AM to 9:30PM wired to the router.

This third PC serves as a "data server" as data entered on the first two is
"saved" on this one, and acts as a print server as the laser is hooked up to
it, though one other machine has a "color printer" and can be used by any PC
in the network. In addition, the third PC has "remote access" via GoToMyPC
and I can access any files on the road. And because all the data is on this
third machine, I have a USB external backup drive hooked up to it, and I used
Norton Ghost 9.0 to do weekly complete backups, and daily incremental.

I thought of going the route of Network drives and Network printers. But,
because the two working machines are connected to the server wirelessly, I
did a test backing up 20 Gigs of data from the remote laptop to the server
machine wirelessly, and it took almost 4 hours. When the USB drive was hooked
up directly to the laptop, backing up 20 Gigs took a lilttle over an hour.

Because I envisioned storing up to 100Gigs of data or more eventually
because of music files, photo albums etc, I couldn't picture transferring
data wirelessly for 20 hours each time to do a backup, as 20 Gigs now takes 4
hours. And 200 Gigs of data would take 40 hours!!!

One way I was going to do it is entering data and having saving the data on
a network drive (rather than the third PC), and then backing up the network
drive to a second drive. But having a 3rd PC instead of the drive, I'm able
to use it also for remote access, and as a print server.

In conclusion, in you situation, I would enter data through the laptops,
save the data onto a Network drive, then backup the network drive. In my
case, I found that I can do this the best if the network drive was a third PC
when I can backup data on this machine direct to a USB drive, and allow me to
do remote access.

And I have this machine wake up 5:00AM each morning th do jobs like baqckups
so it is free when I get up.




"cymbalzzz" wrote:

> I have searched the newsgroups, and I cannot find a simple answer to my
> situation.
>
> I have two Dell Inspiron laptops in two bedrooms/home offices (mine and
> my husband's). We share a DSL connection via a Linksys Wireless router
> and internal wireless cards on the laptops/notebooks. I do have shared
> folders set up on each laptop, simply for the convenience of not having
> to have duplicate folders on each machine, since we work together (ugh)
> and access some of the same files. I also have the B&W laser printer
> in his office set to share so I can use it, and the same for the color
> laser printer in my office, so he can access it.
>
> I have recently migrated all of my iTunes/music files to his computer,
> since mine was beginning to run low on HD space, and his has plenty.
>
> I'm getting nervous about backing up. My several attempts to do so via
> DVD and various software package evaulations have been dismal. I've
> decided I need to go the route of an external hard drive.
>
> My question: I don't fully understand the
> purposes/capabilities/requirements/benefits of NAS external drives
> versus plain 'ole external hard drives. I don't need to move the files
> to the external drive for dual access; I simply want to make backing up
> both these machines simple as possible. Do I need a network external
> hard drive? If so, that's fine, and I'll buy one today. If I buy a
> plain 'ole external hard drive, will I run into problems backing up his
> machine too? (I don't want to physically move this thing -- I want to
> set it up and push a button and forget it -- and set it up to backup
> both machines each night or every couple of days. Does an NAS offer me
> any benefits which might be attractive? I am looking to buy at least
> 400 gb and perhaps 500, since my music collection is getting rather
> large, and I plan on beginning a huge photo archival project in the
> very near future. I worry about hurricane season being upon us again
> and not having my disaster plan down pat.
>
> I certainly appreciate any insight/help anyone might give me -- or any
> direction/links to lead me to a source of information.
>
> Thanks!
> Sara in Cajun Country.
>
>

 
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cymbalzzz
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      07-01-2006
And I may have confused the issue with a typo in my original post,
wherein I wrote:


> > I am looking to buy at least 400 gb and perhaps 500, since my music collection is getting rather large, and I plan on beginning a huge photo archival project in the
> > very near future.


What I meant to say is:

"I am looking to buy at least 400 gb OR perhaps 500...."

I really only want one unit to accomplish this. I don't want an
external HD on each laptop, but rather one central unit.

I like the idea of a third computer as a "data server" of sorts, but
I'm afraid space constraits will be prohibitive in this instance. I'm
wondering if this:
http://www.buffalotech.com/products/...&categoryid=34
wouldn't be a way for me to go...although I get the feeling I'm missing
or overstepping a step here, since I don't particularly need the HD to
act as a network storage server -- just a better way to back up.

But I may be confusing myself. When the get-the-Hell-outta-Dodge
evacuation orders come, I don't want to be digging around for DVDs to
make sure I have the ones with My Documents and the ones with iTunes,
etc. I guess I want to just grab up the HD and go. But I do
understand that even the external HD will need an "insurance policy" of
its own in the way of backing up of it. I've just ordered a new laptop
with 100gb HD. Perhaps part of that can act as yet another layer of
protection. ??? Maybe just DVDs of the most critical things in the
case of worst-case-scenario: My Documents on one set; iTunes on
another; and a set of copies of the disks for my program files?

Yep. I'm confusing myself. I appreciate everyone's help!

~Sara

 
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ato_zee@hotmail.com
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      07-01-2006

On 1-Jul-2006, "cymbalzzz" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

> I really only want one unit to accomplish this. I don't want an
> external HD on each laptop, but rather one central unit.


I did suggest the external USB drive, this can be used,
if the drive is big enough, to back up more than one PC.
Just put the backups into individual folders. Of course
each PC needs to have backup software.
I use two external 250GB USB drives, one kept remote,
and rotated. If they fill up I'll buy bigger, prices
will have dropped. I back up two systems.
 
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=?Utf-8?B?RnJhbmtDaGlu?=
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      07-01-2006

It was a long post, but towards the end, I said:

"In conclusion, in you situation, I would enter data through the laptops,
save the data onto a Network drive, then backup the network drive...."

which is exactly what was shown in the diagram in the link you pointed to.
You save the data on the Network HD abd additionally backup it up to a
second drive, which could be the USB external drive.

The "third PC" that I utilize is important because:

- If the HD crashes there's no guaranty that you can quickly boot up a
replacement HD and do a flawless restore from image files.
- You may not even want to do an image restore if your PC is slowed down by
spyware, malware etc. You may have to install the OS, reinstall all your
software, and then the data separately.
- And then how is it that you can even remember what software you have
installed, and what configuration you have it set at.

In my setup, ALL major software is installed on my laptop, my wife's
desktop, and this third PC, that also acts as "an extra" PC that swings into
service immediately. For instance, I bought myself TWO licenses for
Quickbooks, and installed the software on all three PC's, and if my wife's
desktop crashes, she can begin working on the third PC immediately, or on my
laptop. If this was April 14, taxes are due, there's no time to go shop for a
HD and figure out a restore strategy.

In fact, any one PC in the group cna stand in for any of the other two, as
all necessary software is installed on all three.

Because software installed are identical, and there's an extra PC:

- I can take my time to shop for the replacement HD, not panic, or a
replacement PC.
- I can chose to reinstall my software, and check out how I installed in on
the other PC's.

In a backup situation, you'll have to envision what is involved in the
restore process, and problems that may arise if the backup dataset is
unusable.

By the way, besides using Norton's Ghost 9.00 to create an image file
weekly, and daily incremental of the entire HD, I also do an "XCOPY" of the
data in "My Documents", assuming that when push comes to shove, the image
file has problems.

Additionally, I subscribe to an "Online" data storage service, for
$14.95/month, for up to 10 Gigs of data, so in the case of Hurricane or
fire, data on the external drive would be flooded or burnt along with the
rest of my equipment.



"cymbalzzz" wrote:

> And I may have confused the issue with a typo in my original post,
> wherein I wrote:
>
>
> > > I am looking to buy at least 400 gb and perhaps 500, since my music collection is getting rather large, and I plan on beginning a huge photo archival project in the
> > > very near future.

>
> What I meant to say is:
>
> "I am looking to buy at least 400 gb OR perhaps 500...."
>
> I really only want one unit to accomplish this. I don't want an
> external HD on each laptop, but rather one central unit.
>
> I like the idea of a third computer as a "data server" of sorts, but
> I'm afraid space constraits will be prohibitive in this instance. I'm
> wondering if this:
> http://www.buffalotech.com/products/...&categoryid=34
> wouldn't be a way for me to go...although I get the feeling I'm missing
> or overstepping a step here, since I don't particularly need the HD to
> act as a network storage server -- just a better way to back up.
>
> But I may be confusing myself. When the get-the-Hell-outta-Dodge
> evacuation orders come, I don't want to be digging around for DVDs to
> make sure I have the ones with My Documents and the ones with iTunes,
> etc. I guess I want to just grab up the HD and go. But I do
> understand that even the external HD will need an "insurance policy" of
> its own in the way of backing up of it. I've just ordered a new laptop
> with 100gb HD. Perhaps part of that can act as yet another layer of
> protection. ??? Maybe just DVDs of the most critical things in the
> case of worst-case-scenario: My Documents on one set; iTunes on
> another; and a set of copies of the disks for my program files?
>
> Yep. I'm confusing myself. I appreciate everyone's help!
>
> ~Sara
>
>

 
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derek.erb@gmail.com
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      07-03-2006
I'm not sure it's appropriate to add this story here... but there was a
mention of using Go To My PC for this sort of function and I thought my
experience might be of interest:

I started using GoToMyPC in September 2004. It was an excellent
product and did exactly what I needed. I could control 65 PCs from a
distance and help my clients, wherever they may be in the world,
whenever they had a problem without having to leave my office. Having
used PC AnyWhere for years I thought this was the greatest invention
ever. I was paying "only" about US$ 700 per month for the 65 PCs and
thought this was excellent value for the money.

About 3 or 4 months ago (April 2006) I heard about Log Me In on a
telelvision show on the BBC while travelling. I gave the free version a
try first. I realised I could use the free version for about 20% of my
needs right away. The greatest limitation of the free version is no
file transfer. But I get around that generally with e-mail or
something else if necessary. I then decided to try the Pro version for
a month.

The Pro version was a revolutionary awakening for me. The Pro version
can do all sorts of thing Go To My PC doesn't. They've got this great
Dashboard feature which allows me to see what's going on in the client
computer without opening a remote control session. I can see the disk
space, the memory and processor usage, the current processes and the
event viewer. I can even go in and manage users, services, the
registry, automatic logons and a whole lot of other stuff without
bothering the user. The remote control system is seemless and offers a
very nice Chat function (as does GoToMyPC) and a screen resolution
management option which works great. The file transfer system in Log
Me In uses a file synchronisation system so when I upload files to a
given folder it only uploads those which have changed. This saves an
awful lot of time on slow connections.

The biggest difference for me is the management options. With GoToMyPC
I have to use an e-mail address and a different password to connect to
the client's computer. With 65 computers I ended up using the same
password everywhere as it was impossible to remember the GoToMyPC
password in addition to the user's password. With Log Me In it
automatically uses the user's password on the computer. It even lets
me use my user account on the user's computer, with my password,
whenever I want. This is much more secure for me as I can change the
windows password on the computer and Log Me In automatically uses the
new password. The other management option is that I can give my
assistant access to certain computers without giving him access to all.
I can even allow a client to connect to their own computers throught
he same account. I can see a connection log on every computer to see
who accessed it when. I can't do this with Go To My PC. The last, and
probably most useful, piece of equipment is the Network Console which
Log Me In sells ($199 per machine one-time charge). This allows me to
open one program and see all of the computers I can access on one
screen. It saves the access information for me so all I have to do is
choose a computer and I can remote control right away.

As you can see I had made up my mind. Two months ago I moved all of my
computers over to Log Me In. I am now paying Log Me In less than US$
200 per month (over 70% less) and am overjoyed with the product and
services.

That should have been the end of this story and allowed me to simply
compare products and have others benefit from my experience. I was
astounded when I then went to Go To My PC to cancel my subscription. I
had purchased a monthly subscription intentionally so as to be able to
change whenever technology and competition changed as it always does.
I was apparently mistaken. According to Go To My PC even though I pay
monthly I signed on for an annual contract. I therefore am now paying
Go To My PC US$ 700 per month for another 6 months (US$ 4,200) for
absolutely nothing! Buyer beware!!!

 
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=?Utf-8?B?RnJhbmtDaGlu?=
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      07-03-2006
Derek:

Thanks for the info. I'm also a happy LogMeIn user.

I have several PC's in the home network, plus several more at my business,
not the number that you have to manage, I'm currently paying for 2 PC's on my
GoToMyPC service and got 5 of my PC's, including the two that's got GoToMyPC
on the LogMeIn "Basic service" that is available totally "free of charge".

In fact I also appreciated that LogMeIn allowed me to evaluate their Pro
service for a five PC plan free of charge for 30 days.

I evaluated LogMeIn's Pro service, and I was not aware of all these other
features you mentioned, as they have a level of service for IT professionals.
During the evaluation period, there were times in the evening when the
LogMeIn servers were busy, and GoTOMyPC was available all the time. Which is
why I'm staying with GoToMyPC for another year, since availabilty in the
evening hours of 7:00PM to 10PM is important to me, and the LogMeIn servers
were busy..

In fact, I'm currently on vacation, and using LogMeIn to access my Home
Office and Business PC's because I'm uisng a relative's PC to access the
interent rather than my own laptop. I didn't want to mess around with his
cable modem and wiring. I even found the free service wonderful even though
it does not transfer files or do remote printing.

In fact, LoGmeIn also offer a backup service which I may be able to take
advantage of and will check into. With PC's at home and at the office, I can
backup files at home to the Business PC and visa versa. While I'm using an
online service right now, the level of service is for up to 10 Gigs. Whereas
with LogMeIn, the charges is not based on the amount of disk base I use.

While this may not be as good as the online service for a disaster like
hurricane Katrina that wiped up the entire city of New Orleans, it's still
soemthing worth looking into for smaller disasters if the home and business
is far enough apart.

"(E-Mail Removed):

" wrote:

> I'm not sure it's appropriate to add this story here... but there was a
> mention of using Go To My PC for this sort of function and I thought my
> experience might be of interest:
>
> I started using GoToMyPC in September 2004. It was an excellent
> product and did exactly what I needed. I could control 65 PCs from a
> distance and help my clients, wherever they may be in the world,
> whenever they had a problem without having to leave my office. Having
> used PC AnyWhere for years I thought this was the greatest invention
> ever. I was paying "only" about US$ 700 per month for the 65 PCs and
> thought this was excellent value for the money.
>
> About 3 or 4 months ago (April 2006) I heard about Log Me In on a
> telelvision show on the BBC while travelling. I gave the free version a
> try first. I realised I could use the free version for about 20% of my
> needs right away. The greatest limitation of the free version is no
> file transfer. But I get around that generally with e-mail or
> something else if necessary. I then decided to try the Pro version for
> a month.
>
> The Pro version was a revolutionary awakening for me. The Pro version
> can do all sorts of thing Go To My PC doesn't. They've got this great
> Dashboard feature which allows me to see what's going on in the client
> computer without opening a remote control session. I can see the disk
> space, the memory and processor usage, the current processes and the
> event viewer. I can even go in and manage users, services, the
> registry, automatic logons and a whole lot of other stuff without
> bothering the user. The remote control system is seemless and offers a
> very nice Chat function (as does GoToMyPC) and a screen resolution
> management option which works great. The file transfer system in Log
> Me In uses a file synchronisation system so when I upload files to a
> given folder it only uploads those which have changed. This saves an
> awful lot of time on slow connections.
>
> The biggest difference for me is the management options. With GoToMyPC
> I have to use an e-mail address and a different password to connect to
> the client's computer. With 65 computers I ended up using the same
> password everywhere as it was impossible to remember the GoToMyPC
> password in addition to the user's password. With Log Me In it
> automatically uses the user's password on the computer. It even lets
> me use my user account on the user's computer, with my password,
> whenever I want. This is much more secure for me as I can change the
> windows password on the computer and Log Me In automatically uses the
> new password. The other management option is that I can give my
> assistant access to certain computers without giving him access to all.
> I can even allow a client to connect to their own computers throught
> he same account. I can see a connection log on every computer to see
> who accessed it when. I can't do this with Go To My PC. The last, and
> probably most useful, piece of equipment is the Network Console which
> Log Me In sells ($199 per machine one-time charge). This allows me to
> open one program and see all of the computers I can access on one
> screen. It saves the access information for me so all I have to do is
> choose a computer and I can remote control right away.
>
> As you can see I had made up my mind. Two months ago I moved all of my
> computers over to Log Me In. I am now paying Log Me In less than US$
> 200 per month (over 70% less) and am overjoyed with the product and
> services.
>
> That should have been the end of this story and allowed me to simply
> compare products and have others benefit from my experience. I was
> astounded when I then went to Go To My PC to cancel my subscription. I
> had purchased a monthly subscription intentionally so as to be able to
> change whenever technology and competition changed as it always does.
> I was apparently mistaken. According to Go To My PC even though I pay
> monthly I signed on for an annual contract. I therefore am now paying
> Go To My PC US$ 700 per month for another 6 months (US$ 4,200) for
> absolutely nothing! Buyer beware!!!
>
>

 
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Diamontina Cocktail
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      07-03-2006

"FrankChin" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:(E-Mail Removed)...
> Derek:
>
> Thanks for the info. I'm also a happy LogMeIn user.
>
> I have several PC's in the home network, plus several more at my business,
> not the number that you have to manage, I'm currently paying for 2 PC's on
> my
> GoToMyPC service and got 5 of my PC's, including the two that's got
> GoToMyPC
> on the LogMeIn "Basic service" that is available totally "free of charge".
>


If you only have THAT many computers and not a huge amount, why would you
not use UltraVNC? I currently use that to take over one PC from any other in
my own network at home and have 5 computers wirelessly networked through a
router/modem. Best of all, it's free.


 
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Diamontina Cocktail
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      07-03-2006

"FrankChin" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:(E-Mail Removed)...
> Derek:
>
> Thanks for the info. I'm also a happy LogMeIn user.
>


Just went and had a look at LogMeIn. Now please take into account that this
is the first time I have ever seen it so I am not meaning to sound like an
expert on it but my big problem with this program is the insecurity inherent
in it. You have to store, with another company, details of every computer
you use/control? Given the problems found in other remote control programs,
this one leaves me feeling exposed at the thought of it.

So, having said that, I am asking if you had thought of that and what your
thoughts on the issue may be. Thanks.


 
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