Home Networking, Printing and Backup

We currently have a wireless modem, two laptops (vista & win7), one old desktop (XP Home) and a USB printer. The desktop is used only to store documents.

I'm wondering if anyone can suggest a good network solution for home owners?
Should I continue to use the desktop to store documents?
Would external drives prove to be a better solution?
What would be a good backup system for the network?
Would it be better to use backup software vs. sync software?
What are some of the best, cheapest solutions available?
The desktop has proven to be reliable over the years, but if I wouldn't mind getting rid of it.

I'm also wondering what would be the best option to add our USB printer to the network. I would prefer go wireless.
Who is Participating?
Mohammed RahmanConnect With a Mentor Commented:
The NAS (Network Hard Drives) have a USB port to which a printer can be connected and it may eliminate the need to buy any adapter for printer.

The QNAP TS-110 and QNAP TS-112 seems to be good. Can connect upto 3 printers directly to the drive and no need of additional print server.

Other few recommended drives are Buffalo Link Station, Iomega Home Media Network Drive, LaCie NAS, Seagate BlackArmor.

** Google "Best NAS drives" and read reviews. You will be the best person to decide the price vs performance/features.

** I was unable to figure out if NAS to NAS backup can be done without the PCs. Will keep you posted if I come across any. UsingNAS as mass storage, to store music, movies, photos and documents would be a simple and good option.

In case you need an opinion or a suggestion, EE is always with you :)
yo_beeDirector of Information TechnologyCommented:
All very good questions;
1:  You can still use your Desktop as a central storage location.
You will need to create a WORKGROUP for all your computers. This will allow the devices to see each other.
You will have to make a share/shares for the devices to access.
Windows XP should have NTBACKUP to use as your backup solution.  I would connect an external USB HD for this.
There is also a robocopy.exe that can be used to backup, but I do not thing you can take advantage of VSS (Volume Shadow Services).
VSS allows you to make a backup of file whether they are open or closed.

You can also share your printer out from the Desktop.  


Mohammed RahmanCommented:
Solution without any investment = yo_bee's suggestion


A wireless printer like (Dell V515W) (HP Deskjet 3000 Series) (Epson 520 Wireless) and
A Network Hard Drive (Iomega Home Media Network Hard Drive) that can be connected directly to the modem to store data (backup) from laptops. It will also have its own built in backup utility.
Or, you can get a Network NAS External IDE Hard Drive Case (ebay) and install the desktop hard drive and connect it to the modem to make it a network storage drive.

Doing so, you will not have to keep the desktop ON every time you want to backup data from laptops and also need not keep it ON to print from the laptops.

Apologies for providing a suggestion against the request :)
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jej07Author Commented:
@mody2579, I like the idea of getting a network case for my desktop hard drive. It seems like a waste to keep the desktop always running, just for storage. If I go that route, would you suggest two network hard drives? One for storage and one for a back up? Do you prefer backup rather than sync? Or is there really much of a difference?

I really like our printer, and would prefer not to replace it at this time. If I take the desktop out of the equation, what other method would you recommend to add my USB printer to the wireless network?
yo_beeDirector of Information TechnologyCommented:
To add to Mody comments.
I had a Dell Desktop functioning as the exact thing you are trying to do.
When I turned this open I did not turn it off for a month and I saw my electic bill increase $10.
Add that up and that is $120 a year for something like that.
You can get various devices like Mody suggested.
Linksys makes some as well as d-Link and netgear, Seagate.
I think some of them also come with backup utilities.

Mohammed RahmanCommented:
A back up or the process of backing up is making copies of data which may be used to restore the original after a data loss event (Wikipedia)

If you take the backup route, you will have to take the full backup of all the files that are important to you and then schedule the backup of a daily basis or weekly basis. Every time the backup runs, it will try backup all the files again (time consuming). You can use the WIndows Vista/7 built in backup utility as in screen shots.
backup1 select destinationselect-let me choose select files to backupsave backup settings schedule backup

OR, you can try some third party software that supports Incremental backup. I found one with incremental backup support (free to user) below.

Incremental Backup
Incremental backup means backing up everything that has changed since last full backup.
Backing up is the fastest
The storage space requirements are the lowest
Restore is the slowest (shouldn't matter :) )

File synchronization (or syncing) in computing is the process of ensuring that computer files in two or more locations are updated via certain rules.[citation needed]

In one-way file synchronization, also called mirroring, updated files are copied from a 'source' location to one or more 'target' locations, but no files are copied back to the source location. In two-way file synchronization, updated files are copied in both directions, usually with the purpose of keeping the two locations identical to each other. (Wikipedia)

If you take this route, I would suggest you the One-way sync. All the files from both laptops will keep syncing with the network drive. If you accidently happen to delete any data from the external drive, it will not replicate that on the laptops.

OR - manually store the data on the external drives on a regular basis. (copy and paste). This might not be very good as we may forget to backup at times and its difficult to keep a track of what have been backed up and what needs to be backup.

Mohammed RahmanCommented:
I would say a single drive would be sufficient to backup data from the laptops. (If you have any ideas as to what you are planning, please let us know, so that we can discuss on that and decide the best).

To make the printer wireless, we can get any of the below. But they may not worth the $$$





Feel free to ask any questions... :)
yo_beeDirector of Information TechnologyCommented:

You are offering Backup solution from the W7 Client.
From the question it looks like what is being asked if a Backup solution on the central storage location.
So W7 backup will not work for backing up Networked Mapped drives and if the version that is being run is Home edition then Backup will not be possible because it is not part of that version.

The user will need to backup the data on the NAS or the Desktop via some other means.
If you want to backup data from the NAS and there is not backup utility included then ROBOCOPY (Which is included on W7 and Vista) will work nicely.  The user will just need to create a scheduled task to run this.
The command line would look something like this:
robocopy.exe "<source>" "<Dest>" /e /xo /w:1 /r:1 /z /COPYALL /log:<Log file name> /NP /TEE
<source>  = \\\Shared1
<Dest> = USB drive letter m:\Backup
/e = all directories including subs
/xo = exclude if the file in the source is the same date or older
/w = warning for number of seconds
/r = the number of retries before moving on to the next file
/COPYALL = all the files attributes including security
/Log: = the log file that will be created (c:\WeeklyBackup.txt)
/NP = Do not show the Progress (this helps with very large files.  The progress will show a % tha is completed and logged.) with this switch all you see if the fle being logged.  Reduces the size of  the log file)
/TEE = will display the files be processed. if not used all you see is a Black window with nothing going on.

This needs to be run from a Windows machine.
Mohammed RahmanCommented:
thanks dear.
I have windows ultimate and it gave me the option to backup on the network drive (2nd pic). I was really not aware that it cannot be done in the home premium. Thanks for correction.
yo_beeDirector of Information TechnologyCommented:
Sorry about that. I was gathering my information from my work computer that is running W7 enterprise.
I am not able to see my mapped network drives as an option to select. Maybe ultimate is different.

What is your I:\games ?You are saying that this is a drive that is mapped to a network location.

I thought that Windows backup was strictly for the local computer workstation or server.
Mohammed RahmanCommented:
All the drives in the pics are local drives. We have an option to backup the data on network drive as below. As of now I do not have any network drives attached. I have selected the local drive in order to proceed to the further steps and take screen shots of each. If we want to backup on network drive, this is how it could be:
 save on network
I thought we will enter "\\server\share" (\\IP of the network hard drive\share folder)
yo_beeDirector of Information TechnologyCommented:
Yes you can backup to a network location. That I am well aware of. I was not stating that in my post. I was clarifying that Windows Backup does not give the ability to backup mapped network shares. So with regards to the question in hand the user wants a central location that can be accessed by multiple machines. This central locations needs to be backup.

What you posted was a central location to store a local computers backup.
This was not the original question.
Mohammed RahmanCommented:

Have a look at the link below. You can get any of these to make the printer work through modem/router.

jej07Author Commented:
@mody2579: Thank you for the print server links. That should work perfectly for me.

As far as the backup goes... I'm a little confused, but I think I have a good idea what I want to accomplish. It would be nice to swap out the desktop for a NAS hard drive case. I would use that hard drive for mass storage, perhaps partition it for music, movies, photos and documents. Then, add a second NAS hard drive and use it to backup the first one. Is that doable across the network? Can it be done without the laptops running?
yo_beeDirector of Information TechnologyCommented:
That is the purpose of the NAS.  
This one has a built backup utility that will allow you to make your backups without have either laptop running.
 Good luck on which ever solution you decide to use.

yo_beeDirector of Information TechnologyCommented:
You can use Robocopy to make a copy from one disk to another whether its a local or a network disk.  So if the NAS appliance that meets the needs for the majority does not have a Backup Utility then the user can always try creating a Scheduled Task with the commands I have posted in Post ID # 36519297.  I use this as a shutdown script on my computer for all my media data (pics, Movies, Music, etc.....).  I works perfectly. I also run a backup using Windows Backup to create an image of my machine just incase something happens to the build.

Good luck
jej07Author Commented:
You both have been a lot of help, and I really appreciate it. While looking at some of the NAS drives, I found the Buffalo Technology LinkStation Duo and the Buffalo Technology CloudStor. Both can be mirrored, solving my storage and backup dilemma. It also appears they have USB ports so I can plug in my printer.

One caveat to mirroring seems to be that it's extremely slow. Would I be better off going with two separate drives, and using Robocopy to back up the drives, rather than a RAID1 configuration?
Mohammed RahmanCommented:
Thanks jej07:

let yo_bee advise on this as I do not have much idea about robocopy. Link Station Duo seems to be the good option with impressive features.
yo_beeConnect With a Mentor Director of Information TechnologyCommented:
If your budget allows a NAS with RAID 1 that will work for fault tolerance, but it is not a true backup.  So if your first drive fails you do not lose functionality while you wait for a replacement drive. When it comes to performance RAID1 will not have a noticeable hit.  You will not see a slowdown.  The hardware will do the mirroring without a hit.  

What happens when you accidentally delete an entire Picture directory.  RAID 1 will not bring it back, but a backup copy from a point of time will.  So if you have a setup with both RAID1 and a backup drive you will be all set, but the RAID is not necessary.

So RC will meet your needs for backing up your data without a cost for any backup software.  

Personally if this is not a mission critical area of stored data (Can handle a period of down time) then I would not even mirror the drives.
I would only mirror an OS Drive and backup your data drive.

Typical Server config.   5 + (1 optional)  Drives:  OS (2 Raid1)  + Data (3 RAID5) + (optional 1 drive for a hot spare).
For Home use can do something similar for data: 3 Drives in the NAS and setup as RAID5 and backup that NAS

So my conclusion is RAID is overkill and costly if not needed.

Backup is always needed.

If you need assistance with creating and setting up a schedule RC I will be more then happy to assist.

jej07Author Commented:
Thank you so much for the help. I did end up going with a NAS hard drive and connected the printer to it. I was looking for a true backup solution, so thank you for clarifying the difference between RAID configurations and a typical backup.
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