Automatic Back-Up Goes Mainstream

By Branko Miletic

Once only used by business, automatic backups are now happening in the suburbs, too. In the past, two of the main roadblocks to setting up automated back-up systems were the cost and not understanding the technology needed to do a back-up.

Today, there are several products available that will help you that are simple to use and won’t break the bank. Here are some easy to use auto-backup systems, both hardware- and software-based that you can use for all your data and multimedia.

It is important to remember that a hardware-based solution ties you into a particular version or brand of storage, whilst a software-based solution means that you can use whatever brand you want. In the case of cloud computing, there is no physical storage at all. Regardless of what you choose, automating your back-ups is perhaps one of the smartest things to do these days – especially if you are digitising large parts of your life.

Hardware Solutions

Apple's Time Capsule: Apple Time Capsule's 2TB or 3TB hard drive combines with the Time Machine App in OS X Leopard or later to automatically back-up all your files at your chosen time. Overnight would be the preferred option as it won’t interfere with your work. Better still, only your changed files are backed up, meaning that only what you have worked on or changed is backed up wirelessly. RRP: $579 (3TB)

Buffalo Back-up: As the name suggests, this uses the Buffalo LinkStation Live Desktop Hard Drives as the storage option and the Memeo AutoSync software solution to give you a PC-based back-up solutions. The company says Memeo will keep track of any changes made to a file while disconnected and will automatically updates those changes upon re-connection. The drive comes bundled with a search feature so users can find and restore any information – from a version of a single file to an entire computer's worth of data. Make no mistake, this is not a toy- it uses industrial-strength RAID technology or Redundant Array of Independent Disks – a storage technology that combines multiple-disk drive components into one unit. RRP: $299

Netgear Router Combo: One of the best solutions is the Netgear MSRouter, which combines software and hardware to come up with a hybrid solution.You can have auto back-up by connecting a Hard Drive via USB to the router or by adding the Netgear MSRouter to the Apple Time Machine backup software and Apple Bonjour automated networking technology, Macs, PCs and other Bonjour-compatible devices automatically discover each other and can be used as back-up drives. For Windows PC users, the Media Storage Router integrates easy-to-use, continuous backup software with the ReadyShare Vault, for more robust backup capabilities. This automatic backup functionality helps preserve both Apple iTunes music and video collections and family photos and movies. But if you are like me and want to connect your Hard Drive by USB directly to the router to enable auto-back up, the Storage Router also provides two high-speed USB 3.0 ports for adding more storage capacity or for converting existing external USB hard drives into networked drives. RRP: $229

Clickfree CN2: If you want you auto-backup hardware-based solutions to be portable, then Clickfree is the solution for you. The Clickfree C2N is a multi-computer Home Backup solution that connects via USB to your home router and has all of the functionality of the Clickfree C2 backup drive, and also includes the new BackupLink App that helps users to backup their computers automatically without connecting to each computer.  The C2N can backup both Windows and Mac computers at the same time. The setup is easy and no network expertise is required. The C2N comes in storage capacities of 250GB to 2TB. RRP: $129 (500 GB).

Seagate Freeagent GoFlex: An oldie but still a goodie and one I recently purchased for a friend. Rumour has it Seagate has been doing hard drives since King Henry VIII was beheading his ex-wives so this company does have some history. The GoFlex features USB 2.0 plug-and-play connectivity and automatic continuous backup and protects your privacy with powerful encryption software. What more needs to be said? RRP: $199.

Software Solutions:

CrashPlan: Great name, great product. This is an online cloud-based service that allows you to back up automatically or the word that I prefer to use is 'continually'. CrashPlan is designed to constantly watch out for changes to your files and then flags any changes for backup. Its backup happens by itself; nothing to remember, no annoying pop-ups. If backup is interrupted, CrashPlan automatically resumes when computers become available again. Nice and easy. Not only that, but you can also perform backups to different destinations one at a time. In this mode, CrashPlan is designed to automatically determine the order of your backups based on which destination will fill up first, although as a rule of thumb, local destinations start backing up before the remote ones. And now you can download the CrashPlan mobile App meaning you can access your files while on the go. RRP: Prices start at $1.50/month for 10GB of storage.

FileFort: For those that are not that comfortable with the cloud solutions, there are products like FileFort. FileFort Backup Software is a simple backup program that will automatically back up your critical data to virtually any type of storage media. It can back up emails and documents, music and photos and just about any other files and folders Also you can back up to hard disk drives, CD, DVD/Blu-ray discs, remote FTP servers or even USB flash drives. RRP: Free.

Autosave: I'm sure a lot of thought went into the naming of this product by Avanquest. This software solution is designed to automatically save any types of documents – photos, emails, videos, documents and runs continuously in the background to automatically protect your files. Autosave will then create a back-up duplicate copy of your data, photos, music so if disaster strikes, you can restore all of your data in one click. RRP: $39

SugarSync: This is what I use. Yes it’s cloud-based, but it’s easy, reliable and not too expensive. SugarSync allows you to automatically sync files and folders across multiple computers. Fire up a computer or notebook and your most recent files will be waiting for you. On top of that, SugarSync will allow you to access your stuff on an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, and Symbian for free, meaning your data is instantly accessible for mobile viewing, streaming, or editing. RRP: $50/Year for 30GB.

Live Backup Now: According to the company blurb, Live Backup Now is a real-time, continuous file backup software that automatically backs up your files at the moment they are saved meaning you capture every save of a file when it occurs to protect yourself against corruption and of course, file loss. Live Backup Now is also designed to allow you to restore data to any point in time in the CDP mode (continuous data protection) and works with multiple backup/storage (local disk, Network drive, removable media, NAS device),or will backup to FTP in real-time. I haven't used this software before, but if its anywhere as good as it claims to be, it’s worth a look. RRP: $38.

EDL AutoSave 2.5:  This is a mobile application that automatically saves your work at regular intervals. EDL AutoSave 2.5 is a standalone application that runs in the background and will save what you're working on, no matter which program you're running. Just be aware that this program can be a bit buggy and is a low-end solution. I tried it and was not overtly impressed. I guess you get what you pay for. RRP: $4.

USB AutoBackup: What about using a USB drive as your auto-backup storage volume? Well now you can with this nifty little piece of software. Once configured USB AutoBackup will sit silently in the background waiting for your USB drives to be connected, once they are USB AutoBackup will spring into life and backup those all-important files. Just a warning, it will back-up to any USB drive, not just the ones you put in, so you have to keep an eye on who is sticking USB drives into your machine. RRP: Free to try.  


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