Here's an example of how you can use Windows Powered Network Attached Storage (NAS) to back up and recover data at remote offices. Let's say that your company has 10 remote offices throughout the United States, all connected to a central office in Cleveland through a VPN. To set up a Windows Powered NAS solution, you need to install remote-office Windows Powered NAS servers at the central office and at each remote office. If your Windows Powered NAS servers don't include data-replication software (such as NSI Software's Double-Take or LEGATO Systems' RepliStor), you need to purchase such software and install it on each server.

Next, you need to configure the data-replication software so that it replicates changes on the remote Windows Powered NAS servers to the centralized Windows Powered NAS server in realtime. Thus, the centralized server will always contain a complete, up-to-date copy of each remote server's data. To finish the process, you just need to back up the centralized server to tape at your leisure--you don't have to worry about a backup window or manage remote-office tape libraries.

If a remote Windows Powered NAS server fails, you can recover its data by simply replicating the data from the centralized server. The amount of lost data will be minimal. For example, Double-Take can provide all the changes users made up to 15 minutes before the remote server failed, which means that users will lose only 15 minutes of work at most. If a disk fails and you need to restore a file server in a remote office that uses tape backups, employees will lose all changes they've made since the most recent tape backup, which is typically the night before. Thus, if the failure occurs late in the business day, employees can lose an entire day's worth of work.

If a remote Windows Powered NAS server goes down and the remote users must have access to their data, you can configure your centralized server to take over the remote operations until the remote server is fixed. That way, the remote users can use the VPN to access their data directly from the centralized server.

For even more disaster prevention, you can create a complete replica of the centralized Windows Powered NAS server at a hot site. You simply need to use the data-replication software to replicate the centralized server's data to a remote server in, for example, Jersey City. If the centralized site in Cleveland is down, you can reroute the remote Windows Powered NAS servers to the centralized backup disaster-recovery site in Jersey City. This scenario provides maximum data protection and availability for your remote users' data.