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Adam Stout works in the technology field and is currently located in San Diego, CA.

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Last fall I purchased a network storage device (NAS) to store all of my music and pictures in my house.  This allows for Jenny and I not to duplicate what we have on our computers and instead share everything.  This is also a great place to run our backups to.  The NAS is running RAID 1 so my data will be safe even if one of the drives fails.  Hard drives will fail so you need to plan accordingly.  Anyone who writes their data to only a single drive (especially an external drive that they move around) is just asking for trouble.

Once I got this online and moved my data and my backups to the new NAS, I felt much better knowing my data was secure.  However, I realized that a fire or flood would destroy both drives as well as my computers so I still wasn't really safe.  One feature that I'm glad I had on my NAS was a built in FTP server.  Actually, me having it is nice, but my brother's NAS having FTP is what is really great.  With a built in FTP server, I'm able to FTP my really important files to his NAS in California and he is able to do the same to D.C.  It is really pretty cool that we are able to do this without any real cost.  Now even if one of us has a fire and we lose everything, we will still have some important files (like insurance documents or scans of important paperwork).  Now except for Clan Warfare, I'm pretty ok.

One really important component of my remote backup plan is the use of Cobian Backup.  I first found out about Cobian while at school at Carnegie Mellon.  I figure if it is used there, it must be decent.  It is a great freeware backup program (no longer open source, but Cobian seem to be well supported none-the-less).  In Cobian, I setup a job to backup everything on my computer to the NAS each night as an incremental backup with a full backup once a week (and since I have the space, I keep a few full backups).  I then setup another job to do a full backup once a week with differential updates each night that is zipped up, encrypted, and FTPed to my brother's NAS.  It seems to work pretty well and it was surprisingly easy to setup.  So easy in fact, my brother and I are setting up our parents' and grandparents' computers to do that backups as well.

Now if you don't have someone you can trust with your backups, you can always use a service like Mozy or Carbonite that allow you to backup to the cloud.  This seems like a good option as well, but at around $60 a year, it is cheaper to just backup to back up to a friend's NAS that is already paid for.  If I had a lot to backup, the unlimted space that is offered by these companies does seem to be reasonable priced.

Another alternative that a friend of mine mentioned was using a GMail Virtual Drive to backup to.  If you created a new GMail account just for your backups, this would give you 8GB of free storage.  The down side to this is that this may not be compliant to the terms of service of GMail, but since they haven't stopped this ustility from working in the past five years, you should be ok.  If they do turn it off, you should still have access to the files, you just wouldn't be able to write any new backups to GMail.

To the point, spend the $0 and get Cobian (or something like it), and do a remote backup somewhere either to Google or to a friend NAS that isn't in your house.  If you run a business, this is even more important.

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