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I have two Windows 7 laptops on my WiFi network. Each has approx. 500GB of data (primarily photos, songs and Word/PDF files). I also have an old desktop computer (2GHz, 2GB RAM, 1.5TB drive, network card) running Windows XP Home.

I'd like to setup a fool-proof backup solution that:

1) creates a mirror image of all my files on each Win 7 laptop (one for each laptop with a browsable file tree structure mirroring the source drive), 2) every night, updates backup over WiFi by adding/removing any new files, 3) requires minimal maintenance, and 4) is free, or as free as possible, while meeting the criteria above

I have looked at a number of choices but am overwhelmed by the solutions offered by most how-to sites. I am not averse to formatting the desktop and loading a Linux build dedicated to backup management - but I'm looking for simplicity and ease of use in the solution, not bells and whistles that make day to day management a pain (e.g., don't need versioning).


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I should've clarified, I'm looking for a free solution (or as free as possible). – zee Oct 31 '11 at 19:48
Is it a requirement (for security or personal inclination or otherwise) that you store these yourself? This sounds like a job for Dropbox to me if you want the least hassle, personally. – Shinrai Oct 31 '11 at 19:48
@Shinrai - partly personal inclination, partly security (I have a lot of tax and accounting docs related to my own business that I don't want hosted on the cloud). Secondly, I will have to purchase a paid Dropbox solution for the storage I need and I'd like to get a free solution if I can. – zee Oct 31 '11 at 19:50
Gotcha - just felt like I should throw the obvious solution out there, a lot of people still overlook it. :) I'm not too familiar with the state of Linux based centralized backup these days myself, so I'm afraid I can't offer much more except to say that if I were in your spot I'd be asking this exact question. – Shinrai Oct 31 '11 at 19:57
possible duplicate of Set-and-forget Windows backup software with NAS-support? – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Oct 31 '11 at 23:46

By far your easiest option will be Windows Home Server. It's not free, but you won't do any better for Windows.

After that, there are a number of free linux-based NAS packages, and some of them have good support for setting backups. But none of them approach the level of convenience at this time that Microsoft's own offering brings.

share|improve this answer
I considered WHS, however looking for a free solution...I suppose that puts me squarely into Linux territory given my requirements. I have added a comment to clarify my question. – zee Oct 31 '11 at 19:49
@Zee: You need to add that as an edit to your question. WHS will also smoke any solution out there, bar none. – surfasb Oct 31 '11 at 23:36

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