Bargain Basement Backup

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Butrus
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Joined: Sep 11 2006

I've had a generally positive experience with the Netgear Storage Central SC101 recently, if anyone's interested in a cheap and cheerful backup solution.

Basically it looks like a toaster and you can slot in 1 or 2 IDE hard drives and connect it to a 100 Mbit office network.

Advantages
- Costs about £70 for the basic unit. I then bought 2 x 250 Gig Parrallel ATA drives for £50 each from PC World (I know, shame on me - but I was in a rush) and now have half a terabyte of backup for £170. Nothing to stop you stuffing 2 x 500 Gig in this baby if to hit the magic 1 terabyte mark.
- You can (re-)use those old (slow) hard drives from last year's PC or a clearance sale somewhere.
- Includes SmartSync Pro backup software which I found intuitive and flexible (I was a backup virgin up until recently)
- You can mirror the two physical drives inside the SC101 for an even more resilient solution.
- Small footprint, very quiet and looks quite fun.
- It plugs in to your network router/hub so data is accessible to all computers on the network. You can attach multiple SC101s to your network to build up a mass storage "disk farm" fairly easily.
- Easy / quick to install and get working. Didn't need a PhD or hours trawling the internet for online help.

Disadvantages
- Uses a proprietory file system so you can't simply pull out the drives and put them back into a PC later. This also worries me as a long term solution... will I still get support and replacement operating software in 5 years time, or will this become an oddity in the great technology museum of our time?
- Works at 100 mbit/s which is fine for background backups but doesn't take advantage of gigibit ethernet connections in most new PCs
- Drive speed slow compared with newest SATA drives.
- Performance over a wireless LAN was pretty poor, but then you'd expect that (most wireless networks are 54 Mbit/s as opposed to 100 Mbit/s ethernet, and are more prone to disconnections and variable signal strength/variable network speed).

Conclusion
This cute little toaster is definitely at the shallow end of the performance pool but in my view great value for money. I had a lot of fun assembling it - even thought it was easy, it gave me the same pleasure my dad probably had tinkering with the engine of his Ford Cortina many eons ago. If you've already spent most of your budget on making your primary system as fast and flash as possible and (sharp intake of breath) only thought about backup and file sharing at the last minute, this might be worth looking at.

Postscript
To share data between our primary office machines at Gigabit speeds I've also bought a simple Gigabit router. Now I can transfer files at blistering speeds on a day to day basis, and run my backup jobs using the SC101 over lunchtime or at the end of the day.

If you want to save even more money, you can link two PCs. by connecting an ethernet between them and assign two consecutive IP addresses(e.g. 192.168.1.100 and 192.169.1.101), then using the Windows XP network wizard turned on file and print sharing. This is the simplest and cheapest form of office network I'm aware of (peer to peer filesharing effectively). You could then stuff your two PCs to capacity with cheap hard drives and backup A to B and B to A.

Hope this is useful to someone...

Michael.Bradshaw
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Joined: Aug 1 2005

I don't think fergie meant any disrespect.

A lot of people are registering here and immediately trying to sell or push something. Your post at first glance seems similar. It's very well laid out and almost like an advert or review.

However, I don't think you are trying to push anything. I'm also interested in finding a cheap way to back up large amounts of data and appreciated your thoughts.

for the moment I am buying 250gig western digital mybooks. They are not bad for £ per gig and the firewire ones will spin down when not in use or when the computer powers down and come back online when you power up.
They also have nice little lights on the front to distract you when you're working.

M.

EVGA sr-2/ 2x x5850 win7 x64. Editing in Ppro CS5 Shooting on Sony Z7, nex-VG10

Butrus
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Joined: Sep 11 2006

Thanks Michael - I did intend it as a mini review and tried to make an effort to present it nicely.

Do you have a link / price for the mybooks please?

Also, do you happen to know if firewire connections are fully duplex? On a normal ethernet connection you can send and receive 100 Mbit/s at the same time (I believe) which makes it good for synchronising between two sources. Don't know if the same is true for firewire.

Best wishes,
Butrus

Alan Roberts
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Joined: May 3 1999

Firewire is simplex connection. There are 4 data wires arranged as two pairs, but only one pair is used for data, the other pair carries the same signal but in antiphase so that the net radiation is approximately zero. Data comes in bursts of about a millisecond which allows for interleaving traffic, so although it's only one pair, it's bidirectional and apperas to be duplex. This is why you can attach a firewire drive to a PC, and a camcorder to the drive, and capture from the camcorder to the drive. Data goes through the drives connection into the PC and back out on the same cable to the external drive. Sounds tedious but it works and works well.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Butrus
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Joined: Sep 11 2006

Thanks Alan. This forum is proving to be quite an education - fantastic!

:)

Michael.Bradshaw
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Joined: Aug 1 2005

http://www.overclockers.co.uk/acatalog/Western_Digital_External.html

This is where I bought them. I do edit directly off them sometimes but now tend to keep footage on the internal hard drives and use the externals for storage.

I would reccommend the firewire version( called premium i think) there is a normal USB2 version and they have just released and pro version that has firewire 800 as well. Just wondering does anyone think using a firewire 800 drive with a card in a pci slot would be any better or does the data bottleneck lie elsewhere?

EVGA sr-2/ 2x x5850 win7 x64. Editing in Ppro CS5 Shooting on Sony Z7, nex-VG10

PaulD
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Joined: Aug 31 2002
Michael.Bradshaw wrote:
Just wondering does anyone think using a firewire 800 drive with a card in a pci slot would be any better

Hi
In my experience (Mac-based) FW 800 is only faster when the channel is run from an inbuilt motherboard channel, or from a 64-bit long-form PCI card in a 64-bit slot.
The 32-bit short FW 800 card that Maplin sell only managed FW 400 data transfer speeds.

Michael.Bradshaw
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Joined: Aug 1 2005

ok. Thanks, I though maybe the pci slot might be a bit slow but wasn't sure. It was just a thought so you saved me wasting a few quid. Thanks.

EVGA sr-2/ 2x x5850 win7 x64. Editing in Ppro CS5 Shooting on Sony Z7, nex-VG10

Fergie
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Joined: Jan 9 2001

If I was wrong, and it now looks like I may have been, then please accept my apologies, and, as a precaution in case I was wrong, I have deleted my posting.

Given that it was only your second or third posting, and it looked like it could have been an advert lifted straight from a magazine, there is an obvious possibility that I jumped to the wrong conclusion.

Meanwhile, welcome to, and enjoy the forum.

.:o

.

               
                  Fergie
There's only one eF in Ferguson

I now seem to spend a lot of time arguing with inanimate objects

Alan Roberts
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Joined: May 3 1999

Just to clarify, we often get first-time posters telling us how good something is, and then disappearing altogether. Plainly, they're advertising, and we frown on that because this Hexus site has a perfectly good route for placing adverts commercially. We welcome news though.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Butrus
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Joined: Sep 11 2006

Understood!