Choosing a Backup solution for your home computers

Hardware & Software

So last Christmas I set myself a little project to backup all my home computers. At last count, we have about 7 between the 4 of us. Like most people, backups doesn't particularly get me excited so I have been putting it off for years but I thought I would make the most of the downtime and get myself organised.

I first started looking at various options available and trust me these days, you have more options that you can poke a stick at. For me, it's about getting the job done so I don't want a sledgehammer to crack a nut. I first looked backing up to the cloud since just about every IT article you read these days have something to do with the cloud. 


I came across several options - Dropbox, Amazon, Apple, Justcloud. Dropbox, Amazon and Apple will give your extra disk storage that you could back your data to but it's not going to be automated which doesn't work for people like me for 2 main reasons:

1. I have multiple PC's and Mac's with hundreds of Gigabytes of data. This would take an eternity to back these up.

2. I would have to find some backup software that can somehow automate the regular backups for me because I know I am not going to be running around the house to initiate the backups on all the machines manually.

Justcloud provides both extra diskspace and backup storage. I actually signed up to them but gave up when I figured waiting a couple of weeks for my backups to be completed wasn't going to cut it.

Personal external hard disks

I then started looking into local backup options. The first thing I need to decide is whether I need extra disk space in the form of portable external storage or an external backup disk. The second thing I need to decide is whether I want to back up all the machines onto the same device. The third consideration is whether I am happy to perform the backup using cables such as USB 3.0 or Firewire or whether I want the backup to be performed over the home Wifi network.

After considering all this, I went with a Seagate Network Attached device which will allow me to backup multiple PC's and Mac's on the same device and it does this over Wifi. It also comes with a backup software which will automatically perform incremental backups for my machines regularly. This suited my requirements as I want a low maintenance backup solution for my home computers.

The only possible risk I see with my solution is that my backup device is in the same location as my home PC's and Mac's which means it is not a Disaster Recovery solution and I could potentially lose all my data should a disaster strikes. This is where a Cloud solution may possibly come into play as I can have some of my data backed up elsewhere. That could be a project for next Christmas.

So when was the last time you looked at how your critical data is being backed up? And how secure do you feel about it? 

This article is part of our January Blogging challenge and I hope some of you will find this useful.

Phil Joel

Director at SavvySME

Comments (5)
Andrew Tucker

Andrew Tucker, CEO at

Phil, At home I have a Microsoft home server with about 3 TB of pictures, home movies of the kids from day dot and of course all our holidays. The system I run has redundancy built into it in case of a drive failure but that still doesn't help if the server is either stolen or we have a fire etc. We also have in the region of eight Mac's and a number of PCs. With the Mac's every thing is backed up by Time Machine only for the purposes of reinstallation should I get a new Mac. It's quick and easy and sits a purpose. But more importantly are my pictures, movies and general history of the household. To lose those memories would be devastating. So what I do is I subscribe to carbonite for personal use and loaded the backup agent onto my server. Now you needn't worry if you do not have a server per se all you need to do is have a Windows 7 machine with a large drive connected to it where you save all your pictures etc. You then load carbonite's agent on to that machine and select the directories you wish to back up. It will then over time back everything up into the cloud, and the cherry on the top is that it only costs $50 or so for a year unlimited storage. Extremely hard to beat that. It is also very easy to search and download from any device anywhere in the world. I have been running it now for about four years and have done many a restore, so I have plenty of faith in it. The one gotcha is your bandwidth allocation, be very careful not to select terabytes of data or even gigabytes if you're ADSL plan does not cater for it. You may have to do it in stages otherwise you either will have your Internet shaped in other words slowed down or a big bill may be on its way to you! Hope that helps?

Henrik Larsen

Henrik Larsen, Director at IePlus Pty Ltd

Phil, A dilemma that most of us chose to put in the too hard basket.. Christmas time last year I faced the reality that my laptop had been stolen from my car.. As everybody else I had been telling myself that it would never happen to me, it was in the booth, nobody could see it… Well I was wrong!! Doing corporate Business Continuity, Backup & Recovery and DR for a living I obviously have a somewhat obsessive approach that saved my bacon on this occasion.. Here is how I do it on my laptop (Macbook): I have 2 portable drives each with a full bootable copy of my laptop created using SuperDuper I run a periodic incremental backup to both disk again using SuperDuper (takes no time at all as only changed files are updated) I leave one disk at home and carry one in my laptop bag (or leave it in a drawer at work) For anything that HAS to be covered to the minute (the latest super important proposal or report, your MYOB backup etc.) I do an additional copy to Dropbox. I know it may seem like overkill but with the bootable disk I was able to plug it into another mac and simply boot of it and I effectively had my laptop back.. Like you I’d prefer to have it all in the cloud but with the current bandwidth constraints I cant really see that work effectively. (Gillard tells me that NBN will sort that out though..!) In closing I should probably mention that I also run apple time machine backups to a time capsule it does automated incremental backup as soon as I start my laptop at home.. Just in case (-:

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