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Posted on Sep 16, 2010 in Backup, Planning A Backup | 0 comments

Case Study – A complete off site backup solution for a home or small office – Part 1

Backing up need not be hard to do, especially if you have a friend who also wants to safeguard their data. Implementing an off site backup strategy is a great way to safeguard your most important documents and files. If you are confident with working inside your computer, you can implement this backup strategy for just over £200 (230 EUR or $253). Shop around for the components and you can probably do it even more cheaply than that.

Using SATA technology for removable backups

SATA connectors on motherboard

Serial ATA connectors on a modern computer motherboard

Serial ATA (SATA) hard drives are a big improvement over the old parallel ATA hard drives that have been common for many years. One of the biggest improvements is their ability to “hot swap”. This means that they can be removed without powering the computer down. Several manufacturers now produce caddies for holding SATA hard drives. Unlike USB drives, drives placed in these caddies perform at the maximum speed possible making them an excellent choice for regularly backing up large amounts of data.

SATA removable drive caddy This scenario involves two computers, owned by two different individuals. We’ll call them Alice and Bob. Both Alice and Bob will each be using a copy of Genesoft’s Backup Manager and a SATA hard drive in a caddy, as shown on the right. Regular backups will be made to the drives. At least once a week, or more frequently if required, Alice and Bob will meet and exchange drives. If either of them is a victim of fire or theft or other disaster, they still have a backup of their information stored at another location.

Choosing components

In this example we are using 500gb drives, this gives each individual 250gb of storage space. If this isn’t enough, drives can now be purchased in capacities of up to 1TB, but of course, these cost significantly more. You should also choose the version of Genie Backup Manager that best meets your needs. For example, if you are using Windows Vista 64 bit, you will require Genie Backup Manager Professional. You can compare the two versions here.

The table below shows the components we purchased, along with an estimate of their price.

Item Quantity Price

Plexus Hard Drive Black Plastic SATA Removeable Tray Caddy with Lock*

2 £7.98/$20

Western Digital WD5000AAJS 500GB Hard Drive SATAII

2 £88.40/$94

Newlink SATA – eSATA cable 2m

2 £8.30/$10

Genie Backup Manager Pro

2 £99.90/$129.98

TOTAL:- £204.58 ($253.98)

Fitting the new drive caddies

If you are confident working inside your PC you can fit the new drive caddy kits relatively easily. Remove the sides of your case, then remove the blanking plate from the front of the spare drive bay. Slide the new drive holder into the empty bay, taking care that no cables poke up through into the holder from above or underneath. Secure the holder with four screws, using either the screws provided with your case or with the caddy kit. See your case or computer instruction manual for more information. Now, connect the Serial ATA lead to one of the free connectors on your PC’s motherboard. The cable only fits one way, but it doesn’t matter which end goes to which device. Connect the other end to the back of the drive caddy. Next, connect the power lead, the caddy we used had the old style 4 pin molex connectors. These connectors are a tight fit but should not be forced, they only fit in one way up.

SATA drive installed in removable caddy

Finally, fit the SATA drives into the caddies, following the instructions provided with the kit. Make sure to fit both the power and the SATA connectors firmly onto the drive. Once the caddy is fully assembled, slide it into your PC and check that the new SATA drive is detected by the BIOS. The picture on the right shows a drive installed into a caddy.

If you are not comfortable carrying out this procedure by yourself, most local computer stores will happily fit it for you for a small fee.

Go to Off Site Backup Case Study Part 2 >>

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