You can purchase backup software, hardware, and media from online resellers, such as NECX Global Electronics Exchange and, as well as brick-and-mortar computer stores and, in some cases, directly from the vendor's Web site. NECX even offers buying how-to guides that explain the technology and its features and uses.

Evaluate Key Features
Outlined below are the key features to look for in software for an off-the-shelf data backup solution:

  • Support for all the devices (tape, DVD, CD, etc.) you use.
  • A backup scheduling option that fits your needs.
  • Automatic virus detection while backing up.
  • An option to encrypt data before backing up.
  • Disaster recovery features such as one-button recovery and the ability to rebuild system from scratch using backups.

Understand the Issues to Consider in Selecting Off-the-Shelf Data Backup Solution Software
Be aware that using data encryption and virus detection options may slow down backup so that it can't be completed in one night if you have a slow connection speed.

Research off-the-shelf data backup solution software costs. NovaStor's NovaBackup and Backup Exec from Veritas (formerly Seagate's Backup Exec) offer sophisticated features for a networked office. These products range from $50 to $2,000, depending on the complexity of your network (single desktop or multiple servers with RAID). PG Soft's Tape-it ($59) offers a simple solution for tape drives only.

For a list of Macintosh products, check out Apple's Macintosh Products Guide.

Research off-the-shelf data backup hardware features. Outlined below are the key features to look for in off-the-shelf data hardware. You can buy any of these types of backup hardware for either the PC or the Macintosh.

Backup hardware can be internal (built into a computer) or external (portable). Because of the extra case needed to house an external drive, the external versions of CD, DVD, or tape drives generally run $100 more than internal versions.

If your computers are on a network, you'll be able to purchase a drive for the server and use it to back up all the computers on the network. If you want to purchase only one drive and use it to back up two or more computers that aren't networked together, you'll want to pay extra to get an external drive. However, not all external drives are easy to move from system to system. If this capability is important to you, look for a drive that's designed to be easily portable.

Understand the issues to consider in selecting off-the-shelf data backup solution hardware. Make sure your computer system meets the minimum requirements for the hardware you choose. Also make sure that the hardware is compatible with older hardware technologies. For example, DVD-RAMs should be able to read CD-ROMs, and a DAT-DDS-3 drive should be able to read and write DDS-1 and DDS-2 tapes.

Research off-the-shelf data backup solution hardware costs.
CD drives: If you're going to buy a CD for creating backups and archives, your best is a CD-RW drive.

CD-RW drives and media are more expensive than CD-R drives and media, but not by much. A CD-RW costs from $200 to $400, while a CD-R costs from $150 to $400. (The difference in price in each case depends on the speed of the drive and whether it uses the standard IDE-type electronic interface controller or the more expensive and faster SCSI-type electronic interface controller.) And although CD-RW media costs around $2 a disk, while CD-R media cost about $1 a disk, a CD-RW drive can also read and write using the cheaper CD-R media.

If you're planning to use a CD drive to regularly back up data, you'll want the ability to rewrite new backups over old backups. You'll save more than enough by not having to constantly purchase new CDs to pay for the rewritable capability.

CD-R and CD-RW drive vendors include Hewlett-Packard, Iomega, Memorex, Plextor, Ricoh, and Yamaha Corp. of America.

ZDNet's CD-Rewritable Guide provides installation and troubleshooting help as well as links to vendors, prices, and product reviews. Computer Shopper reviewed CD-RWs in its November 1999 issue.

DVD-RAMs cost from $260 to $600, with the higher-priced drives offering faster read/write and SCSI controllers. DVD-RAM media cost from $20 to $40 per disk. Creative Labs, Hi-Val, Panasonic, Pinnacle Micro, and Toshiba all offer DVD-RAMs.

ZDNet's DVD Guide provides installation and troubleshooting help as well as links to vendors, prices, and product reviews.

Tape drives. You'll need to clean your drive, so to save money, look for a drive that includes a cleaning tape or has a built-in, self-activated head cleaner.

Tape drive prices vary according to the amount of storage offered, its speed, and whether it uses a SCSI or an IDE controller. Expect high-capacity, fast drives with SCSI controllers to cost the most.

  • Travan drives cost from $200 to $600.
  • DAT drives cost from $500 to $2,000.
  • 8-mm drives cost from $1,000 to $2,500.
  • DLT drives cost from $2,000 to $6,000.

Tape prices are based on quality and capacity.

  • Travan tapes cost from $20 to $40.
  • DAT tapes cost from $5 to $50.
  • 8-mm tapes cost from $4 to $60.
  • DLT tapes cost from $30 to $90.

Tape drive manufacturers include Exabyte, Hewlett-Packard, Quantum, Seagate Technology, and Sony.

Copyright © 1995-2000 Pinnacle WebWorkz Inc. All rightsreserved. Do not duplicate or redistribute in any form.