Smaller Backup Solution

If you have a small business and realize the importance of backing up data but don’t want to manage external drives, or think a tape backup unit is just not needed/wanted for your business, here’s another solution for you. (I actually use this solution in my own home to backup 3-4 computers automatically.)

While Microsoft has a server solution called Windows Small Business server, a lot of people have found it to be kind of unwieldy and confusing for non-IT folks. Enter the next best solution: Windows Home Server.

Windows Home Server (WHS) is based off of Windows Server 2003, but trimmed down in cost with an easier set of tools. If you have a small business, and especially don’t have any server whatsoever, a dedicated machine running WHS will allow you to easily setup and share documents with your other office computers plus have those machines backed up on a nightly basis.

First you’ll need a “server”. Really all this needs to be is a desktop PC with a bunch of hard disk space (as much space as you think you’ll need for file sharing and backing up all your office computers). ASUS, HP, Lenovo, and a few other computer companies have designed machines made for WHS. Some of them can support enough disks for up to 16TB of storage. There’s a good list of them here. But you can always build your own or make use of an unused workstation sitting around and just throw some larger hard drives into it.

When you pop in the WHS install disk, it will walk you through a short and easy setup wizard and then take care of the rest. After it’s done installing, keep the server plugged into your network (you don’t need a monitor or keyboard/mouse plugged in anymore). Then you take the WHS Connector install disk and install that software on all the PCs in your office. This software tells your machine to use the WHS and installs shortcuts for managing it remotely.

Through the WHS Admin interface, you can then setup backups on all of your office PCs with just a couple of clicks. And if you ever need to restore a file from someone’s PC, it’s just another couple of clicks. All your office PCs will also have a shortcut on their desktops to the Shared Folders on the server for easily uploading and downloading documents for sharing.

Here’s another great article that goes into a little more depth on using WHS as a small business server. You can buy the WHS software by itself or just buy one of the pre-built servers and it will come with the software licensed for the server and 10 computers and users.

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