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Can anyone recommend a backup solution for <7 computers which includes hardware and software?


Budget <400 GBP

Hardware and software = some kind of NAS disk with software bundled capable of doing timed backups of several machines - some will be laptops so it may need to backup when connected to a given wireless network.

This is a small network for a new charity 2-4 workstations, 3 laptops. The majority of their documents and all their e-mail will live in a cloud based solution with it's own backups - but the workstations and laptops will need user profiles and small amounts of documentation backed up. The budget for the initial 2 workstations, office software, printer and internet is only 1500 GBP so the cheaper the better really. Anything considered, looking for ideas and advice really.

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What is your budget? – Zypher Oct 26 '10 at 21:18
Hmm, well after the computers and such I would think <400 GBP – toomanyairmiles Oct 26 '10 at 23:34
Do you intend to backup the NAS (I certainly hope so!)? – John Gardeniers Oct 27 '10 at 1:07
Backup is off-site and, preferrably, offline. – Evan Anderson Oct 27 '10 at 2:19
No servers? Just workstations? – Cypher Oct 27 '10 at 4:34

What do you mean by "hardware and software"?

If you want to back up user data, there's hundreds of solutions out there for exactly this purpose. Some links include:

If you want to back up "software" such as their installed programs and configuration, you'll want to take a complete machine image. Again there are numerous solutions for this:

If you want to back up hardware... buy a spare PC? :)-

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I was meaning a backup disk which includes backup software which can be deployed on several machines - rather than buying a NASDisk and separate software. – toomanyairmiles Oct 26 '10 at 21:35
If you're looking for an ultra-simple low-budget scale solution, I believe these Western Digital NAS-esque disks include backup software: – PMGoldstein Oct 26 '10 at 21:40
I was thinking about something of that kind, but was wondering what other solutions might be available, preferably with some kind of timed backup. Most of the useful stuff will be in google apps however I never trust users to put things in the right place! – toomanyairmiles Oct 26 '10 at 23:37
The included software seems to be capable of doing scheduled / timed backups. More details available here or on other pages of the same site:… – PMGoldstein Oct 27 '10 at 13:08

The backup functionality in Windows Home Server (WHS) is actually fairly nice (block-level deduplicated store) and it has a nice client (allows the user to self-service accessing backups, etc). Moving that backup off-site is a bit challenging in the current versions of WHS as Microsoft didn't include a "supported" way to do so.


I'm talking about using the functionality of Windows Home Server to backup client computers to the WHS computer's hard disk drive. You install a client onto each protected PC and the PC performs block-level backups to the WHS computer's hard disk drive. The client PC can be recovered from "bare metal" from the backup stored on the WHS computer.

The functionality compares favorably to other solutions that cost quite a bit more. For the cost I'm very impressed with it.

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They won't have a server to begin with, there's no need for it at the moment. – toomanyairmiles Oct 27 '10 at 7:25
@tooamnyairmiles: I've dropped on an edit. I'm talking about using a Windows Home Server computer to backup client computers-- basically using it like a NAS to host backups (though its backup functionality is more advanced than just copying files to a NAS). – Evan Anderson Oct 27 '10 at 15:43
I recall seeing in my feeds recently that MS was going to drop WHS eventually. – churnd Dec 3 '10 at 12:17

I agree with Evan Anderson. Windows Home Server is the way to go, it's a server that's specifically for up to 10 users, and I used it successfully in my office for hardware backups until we outgrew it. The cost should be within your budget, particularly if you buy from a small vendor like tranquil PC. The ecological footprint is tiny compared with a standard server too.

In fact MS are updating WHS to provide a business orientated version. But the basic model itself is quite happy (and not overkill) just doing backups. It does those incrementally. The restore option is great. It doesn't require a domain but works on workgroups. And frankly, it's in a shared office it's always handy to have some form of local file system available even if it's just for the odd Access database.

You're not exactly spoilt for alternatives either. You could go for a NAS box with backup function (e.g. synology) for the same price, but I don't know how well these cope with incremental backups. Online backup is simply not worth considering for whole images - you would have to wait a week for a single client restore. If all your hardware is the same you could use a USB drive, and windows backup one client as a master restore image, but that's going to be harder to manage.

In my opinion, WHS is a set and forget solution...

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To be honest since a .com I worked for got utterly screwed trying to upgrade away from SBS I've been leery of MS's small server offerings as they tend to remove features at random and make it hard to migrate away. All that's required here is timed data backup. – toomanyairmiles Dec 15 '10 at 14:26
up vote 0 down vote accepted

In the end I went with for the backup, it's cloud based so there's nothing on site and they provide software which times the backups. It also allows access over air to phones and laptops which is handy.

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