Using Network Storage for ‘Set It and Forget It’ Backup

A network-attached storage (NAS) device is like a bank vault in which you can stash digital treasure — complete with guys in Kevlar vests who carry your valuables in and out. This digital storage locker safeguards data in a number of ways. First, it provides space where you can keep important files. Second, it supports RAID protocols that make it possible to reconstitute stored data even if a hard drive fails. Best of all, a NAS device like D-Link's ShareCenter 2-Bay Network Storage (DNS-320) or ShareCenter 2-Bay Network Storage for Media Streaming (DNS-325) has enough smarts to run applications on its own. Example: Automatic backup. Using the included apps, you can program the NAS device to automatically copy files from any PC on your network for regular, bullet-proof, set-it-and-forget-it backups.

To get the most out of a dual-bay NAS device, install two identical-capacity drives. Configuring the device in a RAID 1 array replicates the contents of one drive on the other, so your data is safe should one drive go kaput. And make sure your NAS device - and your network - support Gigabit Ethernet to speed up file transfers between your NAS box andconnected devices. A Web-based file server app lets you tap into these backups from any Internet-connected location.

DNS-320
To establish an automatic network backup regimen, you'll need to set up share folders on your PC. This tells the NAS device which files to copy. Within Windows, right-click on a folder and select its Properties option, and then follow the instructions on the Sharing tab. Make sure to secure your shared folder with a username and password.

Now it's time to schedule regular backups. You'll want to choose the Local Backup option, and enter the location of the folder to be backed up (you can copy the location from Windows Explorer's address bar). Finally, select a location on the NAS device where your backup will be saved (create a new folder if needed). Specify the date and time the backup should start and enter recurring details for regular backups. If you're backing up a fairly active folder, make sure to use the incremental backup option (check to see if your NAS device supports incremental backups). This option will copy only files that have changed since the last backup, conserving storage space and saving time and bandwidth if you have to restore files later.

Now you can sit back and relax: Your files will be protected against damage and other mishaps. In the unhappy event that you need to recover files, you can copy them manually from the NAS device to a new location on your PC. Here's a trick that can simplify this process: Duplicate your NAS device's storage folder structure to a PC on your network and use a third-party backup utility on that system to copy and restore files.

There isn't an easier, safer way to protect digital valuables than a NAS device like D-Link's DNS-320 or DNS-325. And while you're enjoying the peace of mind that comes from properly backing up your data, you'll be able to take advantage of the many other benefits - ample storage space, easy upgradability, remote file access - that NAS provides.

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