Sunday, January 3, 2010

Re-thinking my backup and storage strategy

Remember the days when backing up your data meant saving it to a floppy disc, and a 40 MB hard drive was considered HUGE? Well, that's not the case in today's world of affordable 2 TB hard drives.

I have a 1.5 TB hard drive which holds my media consisting of 69.5 GB music, 44.5 GB photos, and 168 GB of videos. My collection is growing daily as I continue to digitize all of my media. And if you're wondering... yes, it is all legitimately purchased. I want all of my media digitized so that I can stream it to my various televisions without the need to bother with a disc.

I currently use Acronis True Image Home 2010 to back up my data to a Western Digital My Book 500 GB external hard drive. The problem that I run into is that I have outgrown the ability to do a full image backup of my system drive.

Options that I have considered include:
  1. Purchase a larger external drive to accommodate the larger backups.
  2. Purchase another 1.5 TB or 2 TB internal hard drive.
  3. Only back up my media files and not the entire system.
Well, with my goal of streaming my media to other rooms in mind, I decided not to go with any of these. Continuously purchasing larger external hard drives would be costly. And I really don't want to have to keep my computer up all the time, preventing it from entering sleep mode.

I decided to look into NAS (Network Attached Storage) options, and I found an affordable solution that meets my needs. I chose the Netgear ReadyNAS Duo RND2110.

The Netgear ReadyNAS Duo that I ordered comes with a 1 TB hard drive. That's more than enough to store my media. But by adding a second hard drive to the NAS, it will automatically clone the existing hard drive so you have a complete backup of all of your data automatically. And it is DNLA compatible, so you can share the media with a compatible device (such as an Xbox 360, PS3, or any number of devices for streaming media) without the need for the computer to be on!

One of the nice things about a NAS is that it is expandable. This one comes with a 1 TB drive, but I can toss a 2 TB drive in there now as the second drive, and when I set aside some money to upgrade the original 1 TB drive to a 2 TB drive, it is as easy as pulling out the existing drive and putting in the new one. It will then mirror the 2 TB drive over to the new one. If I want to keep an offsite backup, just get a third drive and rotate them out on a schedule.

This is much more appealing than my original three options. It saves electricity by allowing me to shut down my power hungry PC while making my media library available to devices for playback on my televisions. And if I bring additional computers online, all of my media is instantly available via the NAS.

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