Seek advice re external drive backup w/ firewire & software

After a scary crash (replaced processor, motherbnoard and aasorted other parts, see the need to have better back-up in place.  In short, have got religion big-time.

Configuration is small network with double provessor high memory workstation with 120 gigs on several gard dirives, recent laptop with 40 gig drive, and two other older machines with less essential data netweoked as well.  MainDell 530  workstation has firewire connect, as does laptop.

Questions:  is a large (300 gig) external hard drive with fire-wire conect to main machine a feasible way to do back up?  AM considering using Ghost software to make image of whole drive (s).  Whihc softwares would be best to automate this process?  Can supplement with existing tape drives for non-critical data on older machines, and also for dailay data-only backups.  But I want to avoid the stress of trying to reconstruct a full drive intmhe evenyt of failure.  Would it also be desirable to have multipele smaller external drives with similar configs and swap them out on a rotation basis?   Which back up software is good for this? Is Ghost adaquate?  Other better alternatives?  can one extract individual files from a ghost image or just the whoe drive?

Perhaps not the most difficult questions inthe world for those who have experiecne with all this, but for me, essential, can only have the  funds to do it once.  Essential that the solution I chose will be user friendlly in application, else the back-ups get pushed aside when life gets busy, and that, as we all know, is very dangerous.

Thanks in advance.  
snowden617Asked:
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vtobusmanCommented:
 Yes a 300 gig drive would be good ( But what if something happens to that drive as well )
The bet bet for Hard drive storage is using a R.A.I.D. Controller
and if you plann on using IDE Drives use a raid 1 wich Mirrors the info on each drive if one fails an alarm will sound ( Usually a series of beeps ) and you replace the failed drive and the raid will rebuild the new drive with the same data..

  The most optimal solution would be e SCSI raid 5 Setup you need 3 drives min to do this(and is you are going to do this you might as well get the hot swap drives )
it writes data across the 3 drives and if an 1 fails you just  remove it and add in a new drive with out sutting down the system...  = Longer up time...

  good luck if you would like more detail on this just post back here...
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chicagoanCommented:
You're on the right path in considereing the facility of a disaster recovery solution, if it's not easy, it tends not to get done. Removable hard drives and ghost are great, fast and cheap for backup, but a fairly manual operation.

Backing up over the network to tape requires a fairly healthy ethernet environment, shares to be set up, scripts to be written and doesn't provide a ready system restore unless you have hardware and software that allow "one button restores".

 Making a ghost image of a system after it's built and after any substantial changes means you can recover fairly quickly from disaster. Using the network and some carefully organized shares to store or replicate data after system images are made would allow you to organize your data and simplify backup to tape, DVD, external HD, etc.

The two tenets of disaster recover are "time and effort to recover" and "more than one copy of anything you give a sh*t about".
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snowden617Author Commented:
Thanks...
hmmm,,,   maybe two 300 gig drices and alternate them.
Aboutthe RAID....  like the idea of the raid 5 set up but it does sound costly.  It could back up a series of machines with a series of drives and not just the main rive?  What sort of capacity does one see in such a set up?  It has it's own free-standing houseing?   ANd it backs up exiting drive all at once at intervals or in a steady stream?  What general price category for such an animal?  Where do I look to educate myself aboutthis (aside from your grascious replaies...?
RAID 1 can have ultpe IDE drives on it , each of very large capacity?

Thanks in advance
 
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vtobusmanCommented:
Ok a few sites to go to would be
hmm
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;303237&Product=win2000
 this will tell you how to setup a soft ware raid in windows 2000 you wouldnt have to buy any hardware except for the hard drives....

A better defenation for it would be
  http://www.uni-mainz.de/~neuffer/scsi/what_is_raid.html
and as for the hard ware part of it ....
http://www.pricegrabber.com/search_gen.php/form_keyword=raid/topcat_id=1/mode=google1/ut=d841d47e41767135
   
  This page has mother boards with the raid controller built in, raid add in cards ect....
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