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How to backup back up 4 PCs in a home network?

We installed a 1 TB Buffalo device in the basement of a home. 2 desktops and 2 laptops each have True Image Home 11 on them.  3 are xp home and 1 is xp media center.   Each is set to do a full backup 1x a week, then do incrementals the rest of the week. and I keep 5 weeks worth of data

the desktops work fine. the 2 laptops are problems. they both connect wirelessly. 1 is a kid's machine with minimal files and changes.

the other laptop has 60 GB of data (music) that doesn't change much / adds / deletes.

being laptops, and just the way they want to use the machines, they want to shut the machines down when they are done with them - 1 hour or so - at a time.

I want to backup (image) the entire PC in both cases, because outlook, etc are in different places, they may add other apps, etc.

I am paranoid that if I back up just my docs, favorites, etc., I may miss something (they have 4 users on each machine) and / or they add an app that puts data somewhere else and they don't have me update the backup locations.

and the 60 gb of music - there's realistically minimal changes, only some adds.

But I want to do a full and then incrementals repeatedly because of (unwarranted?) paranoia that if 1 incremental is corrupt, then all the stuff after that is NG? (if there's not that many days between fulls, then if this weeks is corrupt, we can go back to last week. and why not differentials? They will continue to grow and the problem of long / incomplete backups with just be delayed.

while the amount of data to backup is minimal on both machines, the window to backup the machines is too small for true image / full image of the drives.

and they want to get email confirms that the backup worked / failed

any other suggestions on backing up 4 machines, 1 with 60+GB of data, sends email confirms and can work quickly?
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1 Solution
Alan HendersonCommented:
I do it this way.

On each machine I have more than one HD or partition. On the first partition I have Windows and applications.
On the second partition I have all my data, My Documents, outlook.pst, music and so on.

Moving My Documants to a different drive or partition:

I use True Image to Backup the Windows/Applications partition to a second HD - internal or external (or both - I'm paranoid too!). I set the options to verify the backup on completion.

With data, I don't use Acronis, I use the free SyncBack to SYNCHRONIZE data daily between machines. Synchronizing is very quick, especially if there haven't been many changes. Once a week or so I BACKUP my data to the Backup drive.

The advantage is that if I have a problem I can restore an image of Windows and programs but my current data are still intact.

Not sure how the programs handle emailing.

More on my strategy here:

I use the paid version, SyncBackSE, because it will back up open and locked files, but the free version is excellent too.

babaganooshAuthor Commented:
thanks for the info.  but there are some apps taht store their files in program files.  and you don't know it untill you go looking for the data (quicken and olympus camera software are 2 that I know of... could you image dutifully backing up my docs (which has my pics) in there... and then the hard drive dies.  all those olympus pics are gone because they are in program files.

I don;t want to reinvent the wheel / change paths for data storage, etc.  (are you moving local settings also? - outlook and outlook express store their data in that folder... and local settings is a hidden folder!)
Alan HendersonCommented:
Setting up a good strategy is never easy, but once it's done once it's a piece of cake.
With programs like Quicken and your Olympic images (in my case Info Select, PhraseExpress, Stickies, Firefox, and others) if I can't change the default data location, I just copy those data or settings to my backup drive and synchronize them using SyncBack.

I don't think there's a "one size fits all" answer to your question. Every installation needs a tailor-made strategy.

Good luck.


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