I have been worrying lately about all the important files that I have on my laptop computer and no where else. I've got photos, real estate documents, personal finance documents, etc. that if permantly lost, would be devastating. I have a few snapshots of this data that I've burned to a CD in the past, but I started realizing that occasional snapshots aren't really good enough. I need to have a regular backup I can rely on - and ideally, a backup not physically located in the same place as my computer. What if the house burned down or something?
I already have a Maxtor OneTouch II USB 300 GB external drive that I purchased so that I'd have a place to store the nearly 40 GB of music I have that syncs with my iPod. Last week I purchased a Buffalo LinkStation Network Storage Center. It is a 300 GB network drive which plugs directly into my router and has USB ports so that I can plug in my USB printer, effectively making it a network printer. I could also plug in my USB drive, allowing that to become a network drive too, but I'm not going to do that.
Instead, I'm going to do the following: I'll use the network drive to hold my music, photos, videos, and backups of important documents. I'll setup a script to sync that data easily between my computer and the drive. I'll run that script regularly - maybe daily. Then I'll setup another script to sync my network drive with my USB drive. I'll probably run that one monthly. I'll then keep the USB drive at work and take it home only once a month to sync. That way my data will be safe in one location if a fire, earthquake, or theft happens in the other.
This weekend I got my drives and printer all set up, and now I just need to setup the scripts to do the syncing. I'd prefer to use something standard and open source even though both of my hard drives came with Windows software to manage the backups and syncing. I have heard that rsync is a good open source utility to manage file synchronization so I plan to learn that soon. If you're reading this and you have used rsync before, please let me know - I'm sure I'll have plenty of questions.