Backup, backup and backup some more……

Have you ever woken in a cold sweat from your sleep with that nightmare where you have lost all of your business data because of a computer disaster?

No?? Well I guess you must have a great backup procedure in place, coupled with off-site backups, and a disaster recovery program in the event that a meteor lands on your premises and wipes your office out!

On a slightly more serious note, I have just visited a new client that had a backup routine running that was setup and installed by another company, and when they needed it most after a hardware failure…… turned out not to have been working for the last 3 months!!!

Backups are a critical core element of any business computer system, whether you have a small home office with one desktop and one laptop computer or a large office with 50 users and 2 servers.

It’s not just setting up a backup routine to protect your data, it’s making sure that your backups are working and you can recover yourself in the event of a failure.

Restoring the backup for testing purposes and making sure your data is intact is a core element for any business backup plan.

Cloud backups are a good source of offsite backup where your data can be held on a secure server in a remote location in the event of fire, flood or other act of god! Cheap, unlimited broadband now makes this solution viable for many home business and small business users with costs from as little as £50 per year to protect your data.



Network attached storage – NAS devices

File sharing in a modern business is something no that no-one gives a second thought to, but what if you are a home office user or small business user and you want to share files between a combination of laptops and desktops in the most cost effective way?


The simple solution would be to share files on a peer to peer basis, but that doesn’t work if laptops are out of the office, a desktop machine is not switched on or a particular machine is not working. The simple solution would be to have all the files you want to share on an always on device such as a NAS ( network attached storage ) device.

A NAS drive ( often referred to as a NAS box, NAS server, NAS appliance ) is normally a small(ish) always on device connected to your network ( often plugged straight into your router or hub ) that is available to all network users. This is the ideal solution for smalloffice/home office file sharing and could also be utilised for backups.


The cost of NAS boxes has dropped considerably over the last 5 years with entry leve devices now coming in at around £100.This will give you network attached storage with a single 1TB drive. If however you intend to use your NAS box for file sharing and have no other way of backing up your data, then you will want a business focused NAS box with RAID 1 ( a NAS box that has two drives that mirror the data on both drives to prevent data loss in the case of a drive failure ) – entry level boxes starting at around £200.




Windows Home Server – The obvious small business choice

Most small businesses have a basic need to protect their data, regularly backup their critical business information and share documents between several or more users.

Servers and server software can be a big expense that is just beyond many small businesses, let alone the setting up cost and ongoing server support – but there is a cheap cost effective solution for home office and small business users!

Welcome to the HP ProLiant MicroServer and Windows Home Server 2011 – don’t be fooled by the name, it’s for businesses as well.N40L whs2011

The HP Microserver can be purchased with prices from £200 and Windows Home Server ( WHS 2011 ) for as little as £49.00. Add 8GB of extra memory and 2 x 2TB drives for a total of about £200 and you have a micro RAID server with operating system for under £500, which is staggering!

I have recently just bought one on special offer with the Christmas £100 cashback HP offer and added 4GB of memory and 4x1TB drives that I had on the shelf in 2 RAID arrays ( so I actually have 2TB of usable space as the drives are mirrored for redundancy ).

I have been running the micro server in my home office for about a month serving a combination of desktops and laptops for backups and document sharing. I also have a couple of Jogglers ( my wife hates them so I have to use one in my office through a micro stereo and another in the garage with a small set of usb powered speakers! ) with Squeezebox Server ( Logitech Media Server as it is now ) and Plex Server for my film collection ( also housed on the HP Microserver ) with my Samsung TV and the Plex app.

It backs up all my desktops and laptops, serves all my music and films, shares everything I need and hasn’t missed a beat since installation day.

Yes it does make the ideal home server, but with the inbuilt RAID features, 4 drive bays and small footprint, it would be equally at home in a small office or home office serving up to 10 users for a cost effective business solution.