Many computers contain years of important documents, photographs, e-mails and other personal files. The loss of these files would be devastating. Like all electronics, computers will eventually fail, and that failure can make some or all of your personal files difficult or impossible to recover. Backing up your files is essential. In the past, this required hours of swapping disks or tapes. With the advent of home servers and network-attached storage (NAS) units that connect to your home network, such as Netgear's ReadyNAS, the process has become faster, easier and automated to keep your files safe.
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Create a shared drive on your Windows computer. This should be the hard drive where your personal files are stored, usually your C: drive. Click the Windows start button, select "Computer" and right-click on the icon of the drive you want to share. Select "Share With," then "Advanced Sharing." Click the "Sharing" tab, and then click "Advanced Sharing" in the Properties box that comes up. Finally, check the "Share This Folder" check box.
Ensure that the drive is password-protected if your computer can connect to the Internet so you do not expose personal information. Password protection is the default. The "Password Protection" section of the Properties box you opened in step 1 should say "People must have a user account and password for this computer to access shared folders." If it does not, click the "Network and Sharing Center" link below that, select "Home or Work," scroll down to "Password Protected Sharing" and click the "Turn on Password Protected Sharing" radio button.
Create a new backup job on the ReadyNAS by selecting "Backup" from the FrontView browser application installed when you set up your ReadyNAS. Select "Add a New Backup Job." Select "Windows/NAS (Timestamp)," input the path to your shared drive, and then type in the user name and password associated with that shared drive. The path to the shared drive should be in the format //myserver/myshare, for example //mycomputer/c.
Test your path by clicking "Test Connection." If the connection is successful, a box will pop up that says, "Successfully connected to..." followed by the path. If the connection is unsuccessful, the box will say, "Unable to connect to..." followed by the path. Troubleshoot unsuccessful connections by ensuring that you have put in the proper path to the shared drive, which you can get from the Properties box where you made the drive shareable.
Decide where you want to store the backup on the ReadyNAS. If you are backing up more than one hard drive on your Windows computer, or if you wish to make a clean operating system backup followed by additional backups, organisation of your backups is important. Use dates and descriptive names in your backup files and folders so you can find and restore the backup you want. A descriptive name might be "Full Backup November 1 2010" or "C Drive -- November 1 2010."
Determine how often you want to automatically make scheduled backups of your Windows drive. You can have the ReadyNAS back up your drive every 4 hours, daily or weekly. Under normal conditions, a daily or weekly backup is sufficient for most users. If the personal data and files on your computer changes frequently, you might consider doing a backup every 4 hours.
Choose when the ReadyNAS will make a full backup of the Windows drive. The first backup made according to your schedule will always be a full backup. After the first backup, the ReadyNAS will do incremental backups, backing up only those files that have changed, until the next full backup is scheduled.
Tips and warnings
- In time, you may want to delete old full backups to save space on the ReadyNAS. To delete old backups, open the shared drives on the ReadyNAS from your computer, right-click the file you want to delete and select "Delete."
- If you have a second network-attached storage device, you can back up the ReadyNAS data to that device, mirroring your backup data and ensuring that your backups are safe even if two devices fail.
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