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8 Ways to Back-Up Your Computer (and Keep Your Stuff Safe)


Network Attached Storage (NAS)

NAS devices, or Network Attached Storage, are autonomous storage devices that sit on a network outside of your PC but is connected via your home Wi-Fi or wired network. The technology was primarily a tool of businesses up until fairly recently, but now it's more prevalent for personal use as the number of household PCs and file sharing networks has increased.

In many ways, your computer treats a NAS device like any other hard drive. It will show up as a separate disk in 'My Computer' or as an icon on your desktop and you'll be able to access the files just as you would on any drive (external or otherwise). Since it's not directly attached to a PC, it can easily be accessed by several computers at once for sharing files. Even better, consumer-oriented NAS boxes often come packed with additional features that make them an incredibly attractive choice for data storage, such as the ability to automatically back up your data on a regular schedule (usually every night while you're asleep), remote access to your files over the Internet, and built-in BitTorrent clients for downloading music and movies even if your PC is off. And since a NAS device sits on a network separately from your PC, it should still be safe even if you some how managed to destroy your entire computer.

We think NAS is the best and most versatile method for data storage and backups, but the boxes themselves are pricier and a little more difficult to set up than a USB hard drive. A basic 500-Gigabyte (GB) NAS box will set you back around $130, and Buffalo and Netgear make excellent NAS boxes for great value, while HP's SmartMedia Server uses the Windows Home Server platform that's super-easy to set up (assuming you're using Windows). Most have USB ports for adding extra drives as needed, so the amount of storage available to you with these devices is limited only by your budget.

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