So how does this all work? The Planning…
Let me start with a couple of assumptions.
- You are connecting to the Internet through some sort of “always on” connection (ie not dial up)
- You use a router to connect your computers to the Internet
- You are using any version of Windows, XP or newer. The software I’m recommending is only built for Windows based computers… I have not done the research to find equivalent software for Mac or Linux. Reader suggestions would be appreciated!
One. This is how old our kids were when they began to mimic our behaviour of talking on the phone. Sure it was a banana or a bit of cardboard or a toy car, but it was held up to their ear just like a phone would be.
I want you to have the big picture before we get into the details of making it all fit together. At the highest level:
– on a daily basis (or any other schedule you choose), each computer will automatically back itself up to the local storage. If the scheduled backup is missed, it will automatically start the next time the computer is started.
– on a daily basis, or more frequently, all your mobile devices back themselves up to local storage (to be covered in a later post).
– on a nightly basis, normally when everyone is sleeping, the local storage will be backed up to the web. This backup will be executed by one of your computers that is most likely to be left on. I will cover this in another post of this backup series.
If you’re going to buy a new external hard drive or try to use one you already have, the first thing you need to do is figure out how much storage space you need. To assess this, determine the current size of your storage by right clicking on each of the folders you want to back up.
You will have to make your own assumptions and do your own math about how fast your storage requirement will grow. To give you some basis, I assumed a 4 year life of my external storage. The drive may last longer but in four years I’ll likely change things around anyhow. I made a number of assumptions about how my storage would grow over the next four years:
- I estimate my documents would grow by 20% per year
- I estimate I will take about the same number of photos I have in the past, but that the size of photos would double every 2 years.
- I estimate that my music collection will not grow over the next 4 years
- I estimate that my ripped movie collection will grow about 5GB per month over the next 4 years (1-2 movies per month)
- And finally, I estimate that my home movies / clips will double over the next 4 years
I currently am using about 2.6TB of space. I estimate that in 4 years time I will require about 3.5TB.
Once you know your requirement, round up to the nearest terabyte and find a great deal on an external hard drive. If you’re going to spend a little money anyhow and don’t yet need the space, there are fantastic deals to be had on 4TB or 5TB external drives. I just bought a Seagate 4TB for about $140. Extra storage doesn’t hurt to have around.
The second thing you need to do is figure out where you’re going to plug in this hard drive. If you already have a router with a USB port, use that. If you don’t want to buy a router, pick a computer to be always on and plug it in there. A new router is a good investment though since they offer some good features not found on older routers, such as parental controls.