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I'm looking for a free or if not cheap solution to a situation we find ourselves in. Currently we have 5 designers all doing artwork throughout the day and then periodically, or when the mood takes them, burning it to DVD-R then running it through an ancient X11 Disc Catalog app we have. The problem is each person does it "their own way" and the disc numbers get mixed up from time to time and lost etc.

I'm looking for a collaborative solution where perhaps they backup to a central server, however I don't really want a "spare" Mac just sitting there doing nothing. If for instance everyone kept their work in a specific folder on their Mac that was polled or similar in a sort of Server->Client relationship?

I don't really know what it is I'm after, so some ideas or suggestions would be great! Too many people are getting bogged down burning DVD's etc at the moment!

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I realize this probably isn't what you're looking to hear, but it sounds like you should take a serious look at your backup system. Optical disks don't last as well as you might think, so at the very least you should be verifying your backups regularly if you aren't already. But more to the point, you should really consider using some networked storage. Much easier to automate and keep track of than disks. –  robmathers Oct 19 '12 at 15:20

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I would look at getting a NAS (Network Attached Storage) box which appears to be basically a disk that can be accessed from anywhere on the network and is added to the network like any other machine. I would suggest using Ethernet to the router rather than WiFi. (I just got a very simple 2TB NAS for £80 so can be inexpensive, although given this is a work setup I would expect to look for a more complete set up costing more, remember to work out the cost of losing a design before saying any solution costs too much)

In the simplest form a share can be mounted to each Mac where it will look like another disk in the finder. Then users can copy from their machine to the NAS.You would also have to set up another process to backup the designs from the NAS. Most NASes come with software that sets up automatic backups from Macs to the NAS. The other benefit of having the data on a NAS and not on DVDs is all the designs are quickly available. Your X11 catalog should also be able to work off this.

More complex NASs will include things like

  • RAID which means you don't lose data when one disk fails.
  • allow you to add more disks to increase capacity
  • Do unattended backups to cloud or other off site storage
  • Could burn DVDs itself
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Can you recommend a business level NAS, one of the more complex ones you mentioned below? –  fRAiLtY- Oct 20 '12 at 8:39
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Not really as depends on what you would need in the future and because SE sites don't do shopping lists, but start at this piece listing a few makes theregister.co.uk/2012/09/06/thecus_desktop_nas/print.html –  Mark Oct 20 '12 at 18:55

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