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Monday, February 21, 2005

Musical Muscles

Without a doubt, being a music collector runs in my family.

And here meet two trains of thought... (horrible cliche, i know. suck it up)

Travelling south, on track 1, is the issue of the 700+ CDs I have shelved in my home office - since I started using iTunes and my iPod (and since my car can play MP3 CDs), I don't use the CDs themselves any more - except to rip to MP3s. But, putting anything on my computer means it faces the danger of Hard Drive Crash, and Accidental Deletion.

And travelling west, on track 2, is the ever-unresolved issue of Hard Drive Backups.

I used to use a product called Veritas Backup Exec Desktop. It was a small, well-mannered program that did exactly what I needed it to do. Sure, it had some bugs, but I knew how to work around them. But, when I got a new computer I found that Exec Desktop wouldn't work with XP. I went looking for an upgrade/update and of course, the publisher had discontinued it. But (!) XP has a built-in backup program, and oddly, it appears to be a scaled-down version of Backup Exec Desktop ! Except, they scaled it back so far that it no longer is capable of saving to multiple CDs/DVDs per backup session, making it completely useless if you have more than a few GB to save - rat fuckers.

After days of searching the net for what I needed (file filtering, folder selecting, DVD-spanning, no-nonsense, non-real-time backups), I settled on Nero BackItUp, which is something that comes with the big Nero Burning ROM suite. It's a bit clumsy and it's horribly slow - probably 5 times slower than Backup Exec Desktop. A backup takes all day, instead of the hour it used to take. So, this is, in my mind, a temporary solution. I just can't waste my precious free time waiting for Nero.

Now I'm thinking I need something a bit more, um, industrial. Maybe a dedicated backup server or a couple of small portable USB hard-drives - one for off-site storage, one for on-site short-term backups.

Seems to me like there's a real market for a small-capacity/high-speed backup system for serious home users / small business owners - a simple device that could make compressed copies of files you want onto swappable, or disposable media (like writable DVDs or CDs). Just plug it into a router on your home network, or connect via USP/FireWire, dump your files; then take it, or better yet, the media, somewhere safe. So much of this already exists, in pieces, but someone needs to bring it all together in a simple package.

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