AirPort photo via Engadget
Last week the inevitable happened: my backup drive failed. I took it as an opportunity to set things up right. (Note: I firmly believe in also backing up to the cloud but only for DR purposes.)
My existing backup solution was a WD 500GB MyBook attached to an old (unsightly) desktop. The box ran XP and was configured to “wake on lan” and then hibernate after a couple hours. Not bad but there was a glaring usability problem: backups were manual. (This setup cannot support Time Machine’s automated backups on the Mac and the wake-on-lan required a manual step for all backups.)
What’s my new ‘proper’ solution? Two new pieces of hardware: the Iomega Prestige 1TB ($100) to replace my dead MyBook and an AirPort Extreme router ($180). Yes, a single Time Capsule gets the same result but it’s a much worse choice since it’s over $200 more and less future proof (for upgrades or disk failures). Update 7/31: Apple just cut their TC prices to be much more in line with my preferred option — but I still wouldn’t get one for the other reason.
The Iomega arrived the next day from Amazon and I first set it up with 2 partitions: NTFS and Mac OS Extended (Journaled) to support Time Machine. Worked like a charm but the physical cabling to each laptop for each backup would get anoying fast.
That’s where the AirPort Extreme comes in to save the day (4 days later via the Apple Store online). This router replaces my very trusty Linksys WRT-g and features nice performance improvements of wireless-n and dual band support. But the killer feature is the Airport Disk sharing — simply plug in any USB drive and access it from any host on your network!
A surprising bonus of this setup is that the ‘airdisk’ works on Windows too and it even provides a Fat32 proxy to the Mac file system. Once I noticed that, I repartitioned the Iomega as a 1TB Mac partition that’s shared between my OS X and Windows hosts (while those last around here!)
Now I can finally say goodbye to manual backups (and hello time machine). Plus, I can retire the last standing clunky desktop mini tower in my home. Oh how ubiquitous they once were.