Recommended free OS or Sotware for data backup?

Posted on 2011-02-24
Last Modified: 2016-03-20
I have a verrrry old PC that I am using as a data server.  One of these days, the HDD is going to fail.  Probably sooner that later.  

I've built a cheap PC base around an Intel E5700, an inexpensive RAID card that supports RAID 1 and SATA 2.0 HDD using two 500GB HDD.  This is not a complete solution.  Can't convince my significant other that critical files need to be stored on a remote secure server like Carbonite, Mozy, etc. also!

I have a legal copy of Win2000 Pro.  That's not a solution.  I've downloaded FreeNSA but it seems like overkill to backup files locally.  I have a copy of  File Server Appliance - Simple Network Attached Storage from  However,  that is a VM and I'm not ready to put important files on my almost running VMWare ESXi.  I don't know if I can convert a VM to an installable OS.

I have student copies of:
 1. MS Exchange Server2007,
 2. Share Point Services 3.0, SP1,
 3. Windows Vista Business SP1,
 4. Window Server 2008,
that I downloaded when I took a programming course at a local community college a few years back.  I don't know if I can legally use any of these products now?  I could purchase Windows Home Server, but that costs $100 and I'm looking for a free software solution.  

My significant other has O&O Disk Image Software on her PC.  That's not a solution.  

Once she's completed a paper she wants to move it to a different PC in case her HDD crashes.  She wants it as simple as  drag and drop or save the file on her local PC and then on another PC within MS Word.  It needs to be quick and simple.  Honestly, she does not have time for anything remotely complicated because she is works full time and going to school full time.

What are my other options for a free Operating Systems (OS) or OSs configured for data storage with synchronization?  Are there Linux packages that do this?  I can easily install Ubuntu on the box, but accessing Linux from windows is a hassle from what I have seen.

Question by:IT79637
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LVL 20

Accepted Solution

woolnoir earned 167 total points
ID: 34974238
I guess it depends how much data you are talking about, but have you considered something free like that handles syncronisation between PC's - you automatically have multiple onsite copies and 1 offsite.

It also handles versioning , you can go back versions through the webinterface.

You can access files on any android phones, or iphones you have.

Also - it can be set what files to syncronise and what not to.

The only issue is data amount v's cost, you get some free, anything extra costs. This way you avoid the need to use extra 'hardware'
LVL 20

Expert Comment

ID: 34974243
And there are clients for OSX / windows and linux... seems like a perfect solution for you.
LVL 20

Expert Comment

ID: 34974256
> Can't convince my significant other that critical files need to be stored on a remote secure server like Carbonite, Mozy, etc. also!

assuming this is a cost issue, my suggestion stands. but if you really WANT something to backup too then please confirm and i can comment further.
LVL 79

Assisted Solution

arnold earned 167 total points
ID: 34975295
Presumably FreeNSA refers to FreeNAS.  openfiler ( is another storage alternative where an older workstation can do provided it can handle multiple internal drives to reach the storage capacity you are looking for.
You could use software RAID to setup mirrored partitions to protect the data against a single drive failure.

Assisted Solution

by:Ned Ramsay
Ned Ramsay earned 166 total points
ID: 34979875
Synctoy, a free  download from Microsoft, create a synchronization between the pc and backup device of a work folder.

Then to backup its a simple click and go, the newest version is always kept.

Expert Comment

by:Ned Ramsay
ID: 34979913
Also it sounds like you are over complicating things, what do you deem critical files? Music/movies?

I just run my desktop pc with raided hard drives and a separate windows partition, at the very worst I have to reinstall windows, but my data is still there. If a hard drive fails I just replace it.

Author Comment

ID: 34982558
First, for my PC, I run image my "C" drive using Shadow Protect weekly and incremental images daily.  There are files that I want to protect continuously.  For example, active Delphi 7 projects, all Microsoft documents, "My Documents", web applications developed (all settings (php, apache, mySQL), the mySQL DBs, all data under the root directory, etc), even Firefox settings and I have several thousand .TIF images for a document imaging system.  Basically, anything that:
1.  changes frequently,
2.  difficult or impossible to recreate, or
3.  if lost, the file(s) can be retrieved immediately.

For now I need to have a much better local backup solution than what I have.  I've downloaded  freeNAS, OpenFiler and MS Synctoy.  I looked a freeNAS Compatible Hardware Lists and it very limited.  I was surprised that Seagate HDD were not the list.  I would think they would work right out of the box.  Wonder why it is so limited.  It must be the stripped down version of freeBSD.

OpenFiler does not seem to have the hardware limitations and it comes in all forms, VM, Xen, x86/64, ISO.  Synctoyrequires a MS OS.  The best I can do for now is Win 2000 Pro.  However, some commercial software like ZoneAlarm does not run on Win2000.

For now seem like OpenFiler is my first choice.  I'm going to load it and see if I can configure it.  I might want to download the VM version.  It may already have a preset configuration.

The last step is to use one of the remote backup services,  but that is for another day.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 34982597
Thanks to all for their input!

Author Comment

ID: 34982631
My apology to arnold.  I'm trying OpenFiler first so it should have been the "Accepted Solution" and not an "Assited Solution".  My mistake.
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