I dashed off a quick "Message from the CTO" about disk drives failure probabilities and backups for the eighth DevExpress newsletter, and, for such a quick message, it really resonated with the customers. It's always the way: it seems the longer I spend polishing some bit of writing, the less it'll jibe with people, whereas if I knock it off in 10 minutes flat, it becomes the most highly-commented post ever.
The replies were so good and so welcome, that a couple of them finally convinced me to stop my madness with external drives plugged into USB ports and backing up to them and get a proper, real live, grown-up home network server to back up to. You know, join the 21st century and all that.
So, during a lull from writing for the new Wiley book on DevExpress' ASP.NET controls, I did some research to find a competent home server. I knew all about Windows Home Server (WHS), and I could have obtained a copy from my MSDN subscription, but this time I really just wanted an appliance. No messing around with it and buying the components separately. Been there, done that. I just wanted the box. Before I started I thought I was going to buy an HP, but then I saw the Acer Aspire EasyStore Home Server (the AH340) on Amazon and plumped for that instead. $367 with shipping (it's gone up in the meantime).
Four hot swappable bays (the bottom one has the OS on it, so that's kind of debatable whether it's swappable or not), a 1TB drive to begin with, WHS, an Intel Atom processor, 2GB of RAM, blah blah. An appliance. When I got it from the UPS man in a thunderstorm, I plugged it in to the power and to my router, and booted it. I then installed the Home Server connector application on all our PCs (except the MacBook — no connector app for that) and configured the backups.
And that was it. Dead boring really. Well, OK, it came with McAfee something or other, which I dislike intensely, so I uninstalled that, but apart from that, it just sits there humming (extremely quietly, I might add) doing its stuff. Also it does have a tendency to moan and groan about the PCs not having anti-virus, but apart from that there's nothing to report but general goodness. I'll probably buy another terabyte drive next month just for expansion needs (I have four PCs backing up to it).
After a month or so of this general no-problem "just works" scenario, I'll reconfigure my external drives, and sell one to my father-in-law so he can backup his one and only desktop.
Crowded House - Mean To Me
(from Recurring Dream, Best Of Crowded House)