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Most of us have computers, cameras, smartphones and games consoles these days. Our worlds tend to be full of images, audio files, documents and others, spread across all different formats. The problem is what do you do when you loose your camera or your laptop gets damaged or stolen? The loss of the hardware is bad enough, but loosing those precious photos of your child's first step or your wedding video is hell. But all this can be avoided by simply backing up your files.
The thought of backing up data worries some home users. It may seem like a realm only for businesses or IT geeks and at one point this would have been the case but not any more. Modern devices allow home users to set up their own backup systems in a very short amount of time and without a great deal of knowledge.
The first choice you have to make is do you want network storage or simply plug and play storage? Plug and play is simply a case of plugging a backup device in to your computer via USB or similar and backing up the files. This is fine if you just have one device with files on it, but if you have more than one it's worth looking at network storage.
Network storage means the backup device sits on your home network just as another computer or games console would. If you have a wireless router from your internet provider it will happily plug in to the back of that. You can then configure it, normally with a simple web user menu, to be accessed by anyone on your home network. After this you have the choice of doing backups by either simple drag and drop techniques as you would when copying files or if you feel a bit more techincally involved you can set up scheduled backups to be carried out automatically.
The Buffalo Linkstation is a Network storage device. I prefer this type because my laptop, my wife's laptop, both our smartphones and our music collection is backed up on our network in one single place. It's easy for both of us to access and it keeps our files safe.
In addition to being a backup device this smart little unit can also act as a media server. So if you have a PS3, Xbox360 or similar attached to your home network you can view photos or movies stored on this device directly on your TV without having to have a computer turned on. If you're in to music, store your music collection on the device and play it through your console or compatible audio equipment. It's much more than just storage, it makes sharing media with all your kit dead easy.
The beauty of this little device is that it just works. Plug it in to your router and after a few short questions on the setup you're off. You can also set up personalised space for each person if you wish and these can be password protected. So if you have some personal files or if you want to keep the kids away from work files on the home network you can do so while allowing them access to their own area on the device.
Firmware is basically the software runs on the device and tells it how to behave, much like Windows on your computer. Keeping up to date firmware means you get rid of bugs or problems when they are found on hardware and finding a decent brand of hardware is often important because better known brands are often supported longer by their developers and this means you can hope to have a less error prone time with your device. Luckily the Buffalo is well supported and firmware updates appear on a regular basis to ensure your device works as it's meant to. The updates often add new features or improve old features too. And if the thought of updating Firmware sounds too techie, don't worry. When you log in to the unit it will tell you if there's a newer version of the firmware available and if there is, click download and it will handle all this for you.
Having another bit of hardware in your house often means more noise and more heat, but again this device comes up trumps here. I have mine on my bookshelf in my living room and the reason it's there is because it's silent - you can never hear it! It has a small LED light on the front which is dim enough to not disturb you but bright enough to know it's working when you glance over at it. And as for heat, again none!
This one device provides peace of mind when it backs up your files and keeps them safe. On top of that it helps share media between your home entertainment system and your computers and consoles. It's reasonably priced for what it does and I'd highly recommend this over any plug in USB hard disk every day of the week.