Which backup solution is right for me?

Simply: take care of your data!

Hardware: you can buy in any moment, your documents are priceless.

This is a common problem of home and (too much often) business users. People are buying expensive hardware for their digital life, but they are not thinking how to protect their documents, photo, music and files in general.

Imagine to loose all your family photos or videos, documents, music, or university thesis, research work… I prefer not to think about it.

Which is the solution? Backup, backup, backup!

Backup solutions

There are different strategies to protect your documents, photo etc. from data loss. Some can be expensive or require high technical skill, other can be cheap but less secure.

The most common way to backup data in the past was to burn CD or DVD or to save on floppy or tape drive. Now there are better solutions, more secure and more handily.

We’ll analyze the most common backup strategies that people are using.

Backup on CD or DVD

To burn CD and DVD is a really simple and cheap strategy. But it’s not secure, not comfortable and data loss is common.

It’s based on saving data on different CD or DVD using burning software. CD and DVD can offer a lot of space for really low price, but they can be unreadable and are not reliable backup strategy for important data.

With CD and DVD is really simple to have redundant data: this means to save a file more than one time on different discs, because is simple not to understand which file you have already saved. It also needs human action to burn a disc and this require time for collecting data and burn the disc.

What you need: a PC with CD/DVD burner, some CD or DVD, patient to copy your files.

Skill required: low, you need to know how to burn a CD/DVD with your burning software or your OS (YES, all modern OS can burn data CD without need of any special software).


  • Cheap
  • Simple


  • Insecure
  • Uncomfortable
  • Redundancy of data
  • CD and DVD are fragile
  • Require human action
  • Slow process

Backup on external Hard Disk (USB/Firewire/eSata)

To backup data on external HD has become one of the most common way to save and duplicate files.

This backup strategy is really simple and can be easily automated with ad-hoc software.

It can be cheap but not the most reliable solution. Hard drive are mechanical hardware subject to failure, but data loss is in general low.

This solution needs only an external Hard Disk (most common are USB connected, better if Firewire or eSATA) and optionally a backup software.

You can save your file simply copying your that files to the esternal HD or using a backup software and forget about to do it manually (but is still a good practice to check sometimes if everything is  working right!).

What you need: an external Hard Disk (USB/Firewire/eSata).

Skil required: low skill, you need to know how to copy a file or how to use your backup software.


  • Cheap
  • Simple
  • Can be automatic or Human driven
  • Simple to check and control
  • Low data-loss
  • High speed (copying and reading data)


  • Unreliable (due to hardware failure ratio)
  • Needs to check files copied

Backup on external USB flash drive (Pen Derive or similar)

As for external Hard Disk, backup on external flash drive is simple and cheap. Methods used are the same of Hard Disk.

I don’t like at all this solution.  Pen Drive are subject to failure really often.

Don’t use this solution! Pen Drive are good to move data easily, not to backup!

Backup on NAS (Network Attached Storage)

Backup on NAS is one of my favourite solution, but it’s more expensive and more difficult to setup.

Home NAS are special device, similar to external Hard Disk, that can be attached on your network and shared on all PC at home.

What I like most of all of NAS is that there are a lot of NAS enclosure with RAID 1 capability. It means you will put 2 hard drive inside the NAS and files will be copied on both (automatically by the NAS). This solution is high tollerant to failure because if one hard disk is broken, the other one is probably working. You can simply build your RAID array again putting a new hard drive in the NAS enclosure.

But this is the most expensive solution (you will spend more then double the money of a single external USB Hard Disk) and not the most simple to use for not skilled at all user.

To use a NAS with a single HD is like to use an external USB HD but shared on your network. It’s loosing all advanatges of RAID.

What you need: an Home NAS enclosure with two Hard Disk.

Skil required: medium skill, you need to know how to manage a NAS and a RAID array, how to copy a file or how to use your backup software.


  • RAID 1 offer high level of security
  • Backup can be automatic or Human driven
  • Simple to check and control
  • Really low data-loss
  • Reliable and strong against hardware failure


  • Needs to check files copied
  • Expensive
  • Not simple to realize
  • File copying can be slow (depending on your network speed)

Backup On-Line

During last years started to appear on the web a lot of services of web storage, a lot of them with built-in online backup solutions.

Some of this services are already famous and offer a free limited account. You can try all of them for free and evaluate which one you like more.

The main disvantage is the need of a fast Internet access.

If you need more space is possible to obtain for small payment.

This is a short list of my favourites online services:

  • SugarSync – Offer free 5GB storage. It’s my favourite!
  • Box.net – Offer free 5GB storage.
  • Dropbox – Offer free 5GB storage.
  • ADrive – a huge free 50GB storage. Unlikely, no automatic backup for free, only web uploads!
  • Windows Live Skydrive – a huge free 25GB storage.

What you need: a fast Internet access (ADSL or better).

Skil required: very low skill, you need only to register to the service and start using it!


  • Simple to use
  • Secure and reliable
  • FREE if you need small space


  • Needs to check files copied
  • More expensive if you need more space
  • File copying can be slow (depending on your ADSL speed)

Where to go?

To choose the right solution is not simple.

It depends on your needs!

If you are a Pro user with good skill the best solution is Backup on NAS.

If you are a user with full skill is better to choose On Line Backup or Backup on Externel HD.

The main is to choose a backup solution and to use it seriously, because your data are important more then you can think!


Linking DD-WRT routers with DHCP forwarder option

As written in the dd-wrt.com tutorial there are different ways to connect two or more router with DD-WRT.

I’ll explain how to connect two different router (wired connected) to use one  as primary router and the second as a not so regular bridge. All client will use the same DHCP server and will access to shared resource on your network.

Our goal: connect two DD-WRT router and share the same DHCP server for all the client, allowing every client to access shared resource on your network.

  • Connection between routers is wired.
  • The Main Router has DHCP and NAT enabled.
  • The Main Router hosts QOS policy for WAN connection.
  • Clients can be on the same subnet.
  • All clients can see one another in the network.
  • All clients can access to shared resource (like Printer, HD USB, NAS,…).
  • No needs to change Main Router config (if already done).


Before to configure our network read all the guide, make a backup of your previous configuration and be sure to understand what you are doing!


In this scenario we have two router (DD-WRT compatible) connected via LAN cable (or PowerLine).

One router (Main Router) act as DHCP server, File Server and Print Server. The other one (Secondary Router) act as a kind of bridge on the network.

All client can connect via Wi-Fi (or cable) to the Main Router or the Secondary Router and be in the same subnet of all other clients.

Resource shared from a client will be accessible to all other clients on the network without difference if connected to one router or the other one.

File Server and Print Server will be accessible to all clients of the network.

Here is an example diagram of our network:

Network Diagram

As shown there’s a Main Router with DHCP server, a Print Server and File Server on it. Client1 and Client2 are connect wireless to the Main Router. A Secondary Router is connect with a wired link to the Main Router. Client3 and Client4 are wireless connected to the Secondary Router.

In our setting all clients will access to all shared resources (Other client resource, Printer and HD/NAS).

In this tutorial we can imagine that the Main Router is already configured (standard DD-WRT configuration) and we’ll not cover Wireless settings (WPA2 recommend), Print Server and File Server configuration.

Configure the Main Router

In the Main Router check that address will not be used from any client (we’ll use it for Secondary Router). You’ll find that DHCP server will start the pool from (Default)

Configure the Secondary Router

  1. Restore factory default.
  2. Hard Reset (30-30-30) your router (tutorial).
  3. Connect the Secondary Router to a client (outside the network) via LAN cable.
  4. Access you router configuration (Default:
  5. In Setup -> Basic Setup tab:
    • Router IP
      • Local IP Address: (different from Main router)
      • Subnet Mask: (as Main router)
      • Gateway:
      • Local DNS:
    • Network Adrress Server Settings (DHCP)
      • DHCP type: DHCP forwarder
      • DHCP Server:
  6. In Setup -> Advanced Routing tab:
    • Operation Mode: Router
  7. In Wireless -> Basic Settings tab:
    • Wireless Mode: AP
    • other settings as you need
  8. In Wireless -> Wireless Security tab:
    • Security Mode: WPA2 Personal (recommed)
    • other settings as you need
  9. In Services -> Services tab:
    • DNMasq: disabled
    • Local DNS: disabled
  10. In Security -> Firewall tab:
    • SPI Firewall: disabled

Now restart you router and connect it via cable to the Main Router.

All clients connect (wireless or wired) to the Secondary Router will ask IP configuration to the Main Router (DHCP forwarder) via the  Secondary Router.

All clients will access to shared resource hosted on the Main Router.

QoS policy on the Main Router will be the same for all the clients.