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Life’s a Bowl of Goldfish

A friend of mine once suggested that the size goldfish grow to is affected by the size of the environment that they live in. Rather unfairly I suggested that her boyfriend must have lived in a small house. Subsequently she found another boyfriend and, last time I saw her she was living in a much larger house than I will ever live in.

I don’t know if the parable of the goldfish is true but the reality of things is that I am constantly outgrowing my environment. My house is overspilling with the detritus created by too much time in charity shops, my garage has more cycles than I have recently counted and some might say at least one too many motorbikes. The Ercol Day-bed that hangs from the ceiling has now become a storage device in it’s own right.

The garage has recently become an answer to my digital spread though.

Don’t Get Burnt

Some-time ago I wrote about the need to back-up. Since then I have grown (digitally) to a great extent due to my cameras banging out chunky RAW files.

There is a problem though, where do I put my backups? Yes, particularly with a mac, there is no excuse not to backup now. Earlier this year I bought a little 750gb G-Drive, compact, three interfaces including FW-800, it’s fast and at under £100, cheap insurance. But, if your house burns down, and your backup drive is next to the computer that it is backing up you will get more than your fingers burnt.

Your Cloud

I have recently flagged up how useful DropBox is for backing up and accessing files across a number of devices. In short given that my DropBox appears on three macs each running time machine it is unlikely that I will lose data. I use it to backup websites and other files that I may need anytime anywhere access to. Bottom line though is that to get the kind of backup resource that I need I would have to pay, this is the case with most Cloud options.

Are You Being Served?

Whilst not impossible, it is unlikely that my house and garage will be destroyed at the same time so it makes sense to use this robustly constructed electrically powered unit as a secure resource then. The first problem is that I don’t have WiFi coverage out there, the second I need some storage capacity.

There were a number of possible solutions here. I have plenty of old macs, I could run one as a server and hook a new drive up to it. I could at the simplest run a long ethernet cable out or maybe set up a WiFi relay via a bridge; hardly neat though.

An alternative is to run the internet through the mains supply, the garage is on the same circuit. Sounds daft, dangerous and too easy all at the same. To be honest it feels that way but using a Powerline 500 that’s exactly what I have done. Basically you plug one unit into the mains near your router (it takes an ethernet feed from the router,) and, plug the other one wherever you want (on the same mains circuit) and you get an ethernet output that you can plug into a computer allowing t’internet to pass through. Bonzer!

It’s very easy to network macs, from the Finder Go>Connect to Server>Browse. I assume other operating systems do the same. So I could have put an old chugger of a mac running away in the garage but it would have then needed a larger hard-drive that would have cost money. Instead I have hooked up an Iomega network drive to the ethernet output. I would add that the 2TB drive was considerably less than list price (as with the Netgear AV500) so for a little over £200 I have a neat backup solution. Time Machine will use a network drive now and I can back up more than one mac to the drive. I can also (independently of Time Machine) back-up to the drive.

My Cloud

What I didn’t realise when I bought the drive is that it will allow what Iomega refer to as Personal Cloud access. Basically you can access the drive remotely, that’s the story anyway.

Don’t expect mac like interface with the drive’s software, it sucks. It works but…

As I’ve been writing this I’ve been appalled at my desire to write about something so dull as backup. I look on this as an altruistic act. But, if you like that tingle of fear, that feeling that a cat’s bitten your tongue you could ride a motorbike in the snow, take up extreme sports, or play the waiting game, your tech will fail one day.

Alternatively put on some shades, a large coat and hat and nip into your local computer store. It took less than 10 minutes to set this system up for me, half of that was to find the garage door key.


Time has passed, about six months, since I wrote this. I have recently updated more hardware. As part of the process I have needed more hands on contact with the Iomega. I couldn’t in all honesty recommend it to a Mac user. The quality seems fine but the interface sucks. The instructions are as poor as anything I have read, to the point where I gave up. I have heard good things about the LaCie equivalent and would certainly check it out.

Th Iomega does the one job that I need it to do very slowly but that doesn’t matter. It looks ok but I have it stored away out of view. It came close to taking a holiday to sunny eBay recently when I needed to have more hands on contact with it.

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