Looking for most cost effective backup for home

I have home netowrk with 3 PCs and 1 laptop. I want to automate backups of critical software like : music, photos, video, documents, quicken, etc. Storage of complete PC image is a plus but not necessary. I thjought of 3 options:

1). Buy a large exteranl drive like the Western Digital My Book™ Premium Edition or the Maxtor Exteranl dirve.

2). Take a older PC i have laying around nd install an ne wlarge internal drive.

3). Online Nbackups.

Would option 2 be faster then option 1? What sofware is best for incremental and automted backups?

Thanks for any input.
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  1. Jack,

    You mention cost in your titles, but give no indication in your description as to how much you want to spend. But it looks as if the options you presented would point to a low budget. However, if you network is stable you can use a backup agent from Veritas or another cheaper vendor to back up to a redundant NAS or SAN. You can purchase an empty one or up to 2TB for under 700. The Maxtor notebook does not offer the tools and redundancy a NAS|San does. Buiding your own from a older PC is always a great option, but sometimes can be time consuming to debug. Online Nbackups are a good options depending on the speen an utilization of your network.
  2. I agree.

    Generally, if you are trying to back up more than one system, you're into one of a couple of approaches:

    1. Back up from System A to System B, and vice-versa

    2. External hard drive - either USB or Network attached

    Actually, I think Symantec Save and Restore has pretty much replaced Ghost, although not all the function of Ghost is in S&R. There are a couple of other alternatives, but S&R is pretty well rated. The backup software isn't a big factor in the LAN vs USB decision, should work with both. I think the LAN part has certain advantages, reachable from any computer, less likely to get viral blow-away, etc. But generally USB is cheaper, and unless you have a gigabit LAN with jumbo frames, probably faster. Still, backup speeds, as long as everything runs overnight, are generally not a big factor. And there are some nice specs on some Buffalo and D-Link gigabit attached NAS boxes on the net, just kind of hard to buy them yet. Soon, I would imagine. No excuse really for not going gigabit on home LANs, wired.
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