With my testing of free software storage solutions I’ve been looking hard at how much data a small business uses.  I’m helping out a small tradesman who has two desktop PCs, a laptop and two networked printers.  Actual business files consist of Simply Accounting and Microsoft Works invoices, totaling about 100 MB.  Windows XP on all PCs with software installed is under 5 GB each, so a conservative backup and file sharing solution for this shop would be 20 GB.  That would include an image of each PC done on a regular basis and the company files.  Allowing for a second image of each PC just in case and some additional storage and we’re looking at 40 GB required.  When you don’t have to worry about multimedia files such as music, photos and videos it’s amazing how much space is really needed.

I’m looking at implementing a simple backup strategy.  First the file sharing device will have two 40 GB PATA hard drives mirrored with software RAID to take care of mechanical failure.  Employing a free drive imaging product like DriveImage XML or Macrium Reflect I can produce an image that can be restored over the network with a Bart PE boot disc, taking care of the three PCs.  The company files will reside on a network share and will be copied daily to two of the PCs, plus backed up to the cloud via a free service such as Mozy or Live Mesh.  Perhaps a hidden partition on each PC would keep the backed up files safe from user error.  The file sharing device will be backed up weekly to a 2.5″ USB portable hard drive via a script that runs when the drive is connected.  That was the only user intervention required is plugging and unplugging the portable hard drive.

All told we’ll have a complete and very simple solution based on free software and recycled hardware.  Yes it’s very simple but that’s the point.