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volume 10 number 9 september 2005 TipSheet

Welcome to the September issue of MicroMetric's TipSheet.

This monthly newsletter is targeted at addressing the needs of our customers.

This month we'll continue on the subject of Backup's.


Online backup services are a great option for consumers and home-office/small-office users. They offer the kind of protection big business has enjoyed for many years�a secure, off-site facility for storing critical data. Like enterprise solutions, today's online backup services are increasingly sophisticated. Connected (now part of Iron Mountain) and IBackup deliver basic data and full-system backup. This means users can get system rollback and restore services with the same service that backs up their digital photos. And in the case of IBackup, on-site storage is part of the portfolio as well.

But online backup is not without its warts. You must have high-speed Internet access (in the upstream direction), and even then, backups can be painfully slow. You also need to make sure you're comfortable with the security. Data transmission and file encryption are must-haves for most people, so double-check those features before deciding on a provider. And, of course, there's price. Online backup services start at about $80 per year for 2GB or so of backup space and climb rapidly from there. With the rock-bottom prices of external drives and system backup software, it may be hard to justify the expense of an online service.

In the end, the argument boils down to user comfort. If you feel confident that your existing home or office solution can keep your data backed up regularly and free from harm, an online service is probably overkill. But if you're the kind of person who likes to have a�pardon the pun�backup plan, then you should consider at least the data portion of services currently available online.


Home networks link computers via Ethernet or Wi-Fi so everyone in the family can get to the Internet and share printers and files. So why not handle backup the same way? We look here at some techniques and products that offer conveniences, additional benefits, and, in some cases, better pricing for backing up multiple home PCs.

The easiest answer is to back up each PC independently. The downside is you'll need to purchase software and external drives for each machine, and responsibility for the backups will be distributed throughout the house. The next step up involves designating a shared drive on one of the computers�or a network-attached storage (NAS) device�to be the central backup repository. Retrospect Professional includes a client agent and two client licenses, so you can back up three machines to a single shared drive. Other products we liked, such as Argentum, Memeo, and Norton Ghost, can all write to a shared network drive or NAS device, though it should be noted that many backup software products don't recognize NAS boxes.

An always-on device has some advantages over a hard drive attached to one of the networked PCs. You don't need to keep the computer turned on, and backup jobs won't affect the host PC's performance. A number of NAS drives have made their way into the home-network market, and they currently run about $100 more than their USB 2.0 counterparts. The Maxtor Shared Storage Drive ($360 street for 300GB) and Buffalo LinkStation ($380 street for 300GB) offer large drives with fairly straightforward installations. The LinkStation includes a 30-day trial license of Memeo. The devices typically have a Web-based administrative interface for creating shared folders and access permissions, and they often have USB ports for printer sharing or storage expansion.

NAS devices provide a good means to centralize data storage and therefore greatly help the backup process, but their main purpose is storage, not backup. We think it's best to have everyone store all their data files on the central drive. Then you can perform backups on the NAS device to protect your important data. The traditional software packages can back up a NAS device to an external drive without a problem. Of course, if you want to protect your systems and apps, you'll need a system restore/backup program on each computer.

Copyright 2005, MicroMetric, Inc., All Rights Reserved. Permission to copy in total, with this statement and copyright, is hereby granted.

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