Before you start reading, let me go ahead and tell you that this article is computer related but not specifically gaming related. You’re now free to ignore this is you would like to do so. If you have a lot of things you value on machines on your home network but don’t have a backup, sharing, or disaster recovery plan for your home PC’s then you might want to go ahead and read this and think about implementing it.

For those of you that are computer competent but not computer savvy, let me get on my soap box for a second. If you haven’t had a hard drive fail, you will. Also, remember that there are two kinds of people when it comes to backing up; those who have religion and those who are about to get religion. Forensic data recovery? Definitely an option. One that starts at about $1500 for a damaged hard drive. You might find it easier, less expensive, and more calming to your soul to have plans like these in place. I’ve been sweating this at my house for a little while so I decided to take action.

This past weekend, I re-purposed an older computer (Pentium 4 processor, about a gig of RAM, and some largish hard drives) as a new server for the house. To facilitate this, I decided to use the new Microsoft Home Server OS. This OS is based on Windows Server 2003 so it has a pretty well-tested and well-used core to it.

The reason I decided to do this is simple. We have three machines that we pretty much use every day plus a TiVo, Wii, and XBox 360. Tarkheena and I both have gaming rigs that we play on plus I have a utilitarian machine that also has Photoshop and Office along with a larger second hard drive where I was storing photos, videos, and our digitized music collection. About a year ago, Tark and I sat down with three desktops and our two notebooks at the time and ripped all of the CD’s we own into a directory on that machine. I then duplicated that on another machine for backup. So a few thousand songs, a few thousand photos, screenshots from games that we have played (not including hundreds of EQ screenshots that were on a HDD that failed without backup) and a bunch of other stuff like backups of my Vanguard site and the like are all sitting on these computers in shared folders and duplicated for the most part onto other drives. Duplication and lack of duplication abound. Oh, yeah. The simple reason to do the Home Server? I want data security and I’m tired of managing it myself manually. The Server offers automatic backup and disaster recovery, automatic load-balancing among the drives, a central place of all of our shared files, streaming of media files, plus internet access to both shared files on the server and to our own machines via remote access.

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