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Scenario system crash. I've decided it's going to just be easier to run and restore from a system disk then trying to reload backups should say a disk failure(after all the system backups are stored on the same disk anyway). These are business machines they don't run or have much anyway. So replace drive and reinstall.

However, there are personal files that typically are used.

Would the best idea to keep customer data like personal files safe be to keep them all on a central shared drive with access to their own directory? OR Is there an application I can use to backup certain directories every hour? And if so what would be the best way to backup this remote directory on a windows server 2003 system?

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Backups on every machine

Windows comes with backup software http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/products/features/backup-and-restore (win7) http://support.microsoft.com/kb/320820 (XP).

Also there is scheduler so you can schedule backups to run every hour.

Maybe you are already aware of both of these but many still forgot how powerful windows itself can be, there is no really need for third party programs when doing basic jobs like automation, backups, user control, device management/control or network management/control. And if you need more customized backups or some special information stored with backups then just go and write batches to do the job.

Propably most information you want to backup is found under %HOMEPATH%\Application Data\, %HOMEPATH%\Local Setting and personal files like bookmarks and documents of course. You really should exclude temporary/cache files from backups...

Map network drives for docs

This propably is simplest thing to do if file server is already available, just folders for users, map drives and tell users to save all files to network. Definitely, this is not foolproof as someone can just forgot to use network drive...

Or maybe add network share for profiles

and use user profiles from there but I dont recommend this as it can raise other problems (even with proper caching) if for some reason network fails or is unavailable for some other reasons. Here is some reading about roaming profiles http://computertips.toups.info/roaming/RoamingXPPro.htm and some whynots http://blogs.msdn.com/b/oldnewthing/archive/2005/06/30/434209.aspx

Proper way to achieve this is setting up domain and AD.

Or you can go with active directory

Of course good way to go is setting up domain controller, ad and file server. Decisions should be made depending on machine count and other requirements, one could save a lot of work when setting up ad while others could save a lot by using per machine backups and settings.

I did not include anything about server side backups as I assume that server backups / data protection is already correctly setup.

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There are a lot of backup applications that can automaticly backup your files (or data you need) in schedule. I had the same problem as yours, and Handy Backup worked fine for me. It also supports Windows Server 2003. I think you should try Home Professional edition. Hope it helps!

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How does it work? Like select dirs you wanna backup then it backs up to a remote drive? –  Rachel Nark May 23 '12 at 17:25
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