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Volunteers Needed: Home Server Trial

I am currently working on a trial home server computer that I am considering producing and am looking for a volunteer family to allow me to install one in their home for 3-6 months (with option to keep using it after trial). There would be no cost to you (with one minor exception…see “ideal candidate), but I would need you to provide me feedback on how it is working and any possible changes you think should be implemented.

What is a “home server”?
A home server is a computer without a monitor, keyboard or mouse that runs 24/7 and manages all of your documents, music, and videos. In addition, it will backup any Windows PC in your home every night, which provides you with the ability to revert back to older versions of files or completely restore your computer in event of a crash or virus infection. It will also manage backing up all of your files to a cloud based backup service.

Ideal candidate
In order to properly test how this works “in the wild”, there are some requirements I have for a volunteer. The ideal candidate:

  • Is not “super technical”. Looking to see how an average person/family uses this.
  • Does NOT have a massive 500,000 iTunes collection…space is SOMEWHAT limited.
  • Has 2 or more personal Windows computers running Windows 7 or 8 in the house (test is for residence use only, so no business use at this time). 3 or more preferred.
  • Has full time internet (cable or DSL) with a router (wireless or wired)
  • Has a location to place a computer tower that is near the router (no monitor, keyboard or mouse are needed). Computer is size of a typical desktop computer, but it can be in a corner, behind a desk, even in a closet if there is some air circulation.
  • Is willing to move all personal documents, music, etc. to the server’s storage
  • Currently has or is willing to subscribe to an online backup solution (CrashPlan is preferred, but will consider others like Carbonite…not all services work with the server edition of Windows). Typical cost is $6 a month paid to that provider.
  • Is willing to let me securely remotely control the server to check status, install updates, and fix issues.
  • Agrees that server, with exception of data hard drive, will remain the property of Reboot Technology Services.

Benefit to you

  • I will set up the server on your network and transfer all files for NO cost to you. I will also maintain the computer for no cost to you, as well as fix issues with it.
  • All of your documents, files, music, etc. will be available to all computers on your network based on what users you allow.
  • 2TB of network storage…free up space on your personal computers
  • All of your computers will be backed up every night
  • All of your personal files mentioned above will be backed up online every day, protecting your electronic information from crashes or from catastrophic events like theft or fire.
  • You get early access to a prototype home server I hope to later offer for sale.
  • FUTURE PLANS: stream any of your music or videos to your smartphone or tablet anywhere you have a data signal.

Interested?
For those who are interested, please send an email to service@askreboot.com indicating the following:

  1. How many Windows 7/8 computers do you currently use in your house?
  2. Who is your current internet provider and how fast is your service (if you know)?
  3. How do you feel a home server could help your house/family?
  4. Are you willing to subscribe to an online backup solution?
  5. In what general area of town do you live (major cross-streets)?

At this time, I only have one machine, and it is open to Mesa/Phoenix/Gilbert/Chander only.  However, I hope to have a version 2 ready to go out after receiving feedback from my field test. Version 2 will offer the video streaming, which takes much more processing power.  I hope to hear from you!

Review: Carbonite Online Backup

Let me start out by saying this post is in no way influenced by Carbonite itself. I’m not getting anything for writing this, and chances are they’ll never see it. Nevertheless, my experience is worth a review

This particular review is a little more personal in nature.  My mother needed a new laptop and who else would she enlist to help but her geek son at Reboot Technology. Like most tech savy sons, I’ve been acting as her IT guy since about the 6th grade and continue to provide her support as needed (though the calls have dropped as she admittadly is getting a little techy herself…I’m so proud!). She was coming out to visit and decided it’d be a great time for me to be able to set up a new laptop for her and transfer her files.

We landed a deal at Costco on Tuesday night on a Dell laptop with a Core-i3…better price than I’d seen and she approved the purchase. I wanted to have it all set up for her when she got here but there was one problem: she’s in Indiana, I’m in Arizona. That’s where Carbonite steps in.

I regularly preach the need to my customers to set up a backup solution…whether to a flash drive, external hard drive, or online service like Mozy or Carbonite.  There is nothing worse than the sinking feeling of realizing all your electronic stuff is gone.  My mother, having experienced this feeling in the past (MAYBE at the hands of her 12 yr old techie son) purchased a subscription to Carbonite all on her own…she heard the commercials and decided she needed all her pictures (among other things) backed up. She even set it up on her own and it had been backing up ever since. So when it came time to set up her laptop I decided to check it out and see if it could shorten the distance between machines.

With her permission, I logged into her online account, told it I was switching computers, picked the files I wanted to restore (some of them were specific to her old laptop) and clicked “Restore”. Software installed, account switched over, and the files started downloading to the new locations I’d set up. It was that easy! Better yet, Carbonite freezes the backup when you start restoring, which means I didn’t have to worry about my mom’s old laptop starting to backup files while I was in the middle of it.

In summary, I was shocked at how easy it was to use while still providing access to advanced features like file versioning and individual file selection. At $54.95 a year for unlimited space, it really is a bargain…after all, isn’t your data worth $5 a month?