Home Backup: NAS or Attached Drive


“Bob”:http://bobsplanet.com asked me about backup as did Richard, so here’s a quick review of how to do backup.

There has been a long evolution here for me. Originally, at home I bought a tape backup that did a mammoth 5GB, but I just never used it. Then just had a big PC with lots of storage. Back then five years ago, that was a mammoth 120GB. Then drives started failing, so I just put in bigger drives on all the desktop PCs and duplicated files everywhere. That’s mainly because all the

I’ve been using the Buffalo and the Simpletech NAS for a year and 3 months respectively and I’m amazed at how well they work. Then there is “Drobo”:http://drobo.com that Bob recommended (Greylock, RRE and Sutter Hill are in the deal btw). So here are my recommendations:

h2. Simple backup for home

The other solutions work very differently, they are complete enclosed drives that include a 500GB hard drive. In general, the Simpletech adds just about $20 per drive but each appears as a separate network server. So probably the best low cost solution. “PC Magazine”:
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,1780731,00.asp liked it OK at $400, but now the price has really declined.

Right now “Simpletech”:http://www.simpletech.com/commercial/simpleshare/ offers a wide range at 500GB seems like the best price per bit. The main issue is the fast Ethernet at 100Mbps is pretty slow. About as fast as USB 2.0 in my experience. Right now it is $140 or so according to “Pricegrabber”:http://computers.pricegrabber.com/network-storage-devices/m/22888851/search=simpletech/sort_type=bottomline

h2. Fast NAS

If you really need speed and a couple of 500GB is OK, then “LS-500GL”:http://www.buffalotech.com/products/network-storage/linkstation/linkstation-pro/ at $280 according to “Pricegrabber”:http://buffalotech.pricegrabber.com/search_getprod.php/masterid=22679901/zip_code=98004

It is realy the best choice if you are doing big media files. For instance, copying 40GB of a HD movie takes about 10 minutes over !Gbps Ethernet while it took me nearly an hour on a 100Mbps Ethernet to the Simplestation. It is expensive though.

h2. If your drives are more complicated and you don’t mind slowness

It is expensive at $500 without any drives, but it has some cool management features. It automatically reconfigures based on what hard drives you slam in. It is a USB 2.0 device, so it is not going to be to terrifically fast which is the big problem. I have in the past used a very fast enclosure that uses eSATA which basically runs at drive speed. So you have a choice in terms of either. “PC Magazine”:http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,2146002,00.asp has a good overall review but without eSATA or something faster, its hard to get super excited since these drives are slow at roughly the same speed as NAS. The big issue is how to manage storage.

It goes for $450 according to “Pricegrabber”:http://computers.pricegrabber.com/enclosures/m/39265406/search=drobo so it is a funny solution. It is very flexible and expensive since it doesn’t include hard drives.

h2. The net

There is no perfect solution yet. I would say the Drobo makes sense on the next upgrade when it gets beyond USB 2.0 to ideally both eSATA and Gigabit Ethernet for the high end.

Right now, I’d say that if you had to buy something right now, get the Simpletech if all you want is basic backup and the Buffalo if you want the a higher performance media server.

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