Value Your Home Computer Data

At work, you probably have an IT person who makes sure your servers and desktops are backed-up.  But what about your home computers?  I hand’t thought about it until my 16 year old came to me one day and said, “my laptop is acting funny”.

Turns out her hard drive was going bad.  The drive wasn’t dead so I was able to backup the drive and install a new one without major issues.  However, during that process I did some checking on the data that she had on her computer, which in turn made me think about the data on the rest of our computers.

What I found is that my daughter’s computer housed the bulk of our iTunes library.  An impressive (or is it ridiculous) 4,123 songs.  At $.99 per song, the value of our music library itself was close to $4,000.  I did some checking with Apple and found that they do not offer a “redownload in the event of a hard drive crash” service.  In other words, if you loose your songs, you buy them again.  Yikes!  Then I started thinking about school projects, pictures, business correspondence done on the home computer instead of work computer, etc., and decided to do some research into home backup alternatives.  Here’s what I found . . .

If you have a network (wireless or wired) take a look at a product from Microsoft called Windows Home Server.  Check out the products page which shows several “plug-n-play” options from various vendors.  Setup and use of this product was easy, especially if you purchase a preconfigured unit.  Just take it out of the box, plug in the power and a network cable and follow the instructions that appear on the screen.  Windows Home Server will backup a maximum of 10 computers, both Windows and Apple Mac’s, and does it painlessly, automatically and continuously.

If you only have one or two computers at home or don’t have a home network, it may make sense to look at alternatives.  If you have a Mac, check out an Apple product called Time Machine.  If you have PC’s like I do, check out Genie Time Line or Rebit.

All three products allow you to connect an external hard drive, a USB drive for example, to your computer and manage a continuous, time-based backup.  In other words, these gizmos make backups of your data as it changes.  Accidently delete a file?  No problem, two or three clicks and the file is restored.  Save changes to a file and wish you could see the previous version?  No problem, two or three clicks and you have both versions on your hard drive.