EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a guest post by TWIP fan Ben Leal. Ben is a Microsoft employee, however he’s not part of any of the product groups mentioned in this post. Ben is a tech enthusiast, gadget freak, and photo lover fully on a PC platform.

Back up

On TWIP you talk a lot about the need to have multiple copies of files and a redundant file back up system. Microsoft produces a product called Windows Home Server targeted at the consumer market for the growing digital collection of content homes are generating. You can buy these machines prebuilt or can build one to your specific tastes and needs. The processing resources are pretty modest and people could easily convert an existing older system and run it comfortably.

Key points
Its actually a version of Windows 2003 Server and as such is very stable and well tested

Automatically backups all systems in the home that are added to the server a machine crashes and you can restore it with the home server.

Intelligent back up rather than storing duplicate copies it notes where multiple files are used and keeps one copy (reduces storage consumption)

Add and remove hard drives dynamically need more space, add a drive and it becomes part of the overall storage capacity. The system distributes files to ensure a failure in a drive doesn’t compromise data.

Can be headless once its set up, you can stick it on a closet and administer it remotely

Share files acts as a file server as well and media server so you can stream content to other pcs or even your 360. My family loves being able to watch a slide show in the living room on the big screen vs hudling around my desk. And you can share files over the internet through personal websites served up by WHS

Extensible people write addins so you can do more. I was using one that would automatically upload my photos to flickr. Id do my processing in Lightroom, add all the metadata/tags, export to my subfolder in my To upload folder and the addin would create a new set in flickr and copy up the photos.

File movement

Live Mesh this is a technical preview (not sure of the difference between that and a beta but its actively improved) (runs on 64bit)

Installs a client on all machines you want to share files with.

Add a folder to the mesh and designate which pcs you want to share with.

Automatically syncs the files in the folder across all the machines when they are online

Enable easy remote access to any machine in your mesh.

5gb of online storage so you can keep some files accessible on the net from any machine with a browser. Well IE for sure.

It does have an individual file size limit of 10gbs but no limit on the size of folders to sync. Ie you can have a folder with 100gb of files and it will sync across the machines

Folder Share beta, Ive been using it for about a year and its very stable. (runs on 64bit)

Installs a client to your machine.

Allows you to map folders between machines (live mesh generates a new folder on the machines) and keep them in sync automatically

Access your files through a browser anywhere.

Very similar to live mesh but I think its much easier to use.

SyncToy 2.0 local app for syncing folders locally targeted at photographers. (runs on 64bit)

Create shared folder pairs and designate how they sync can be identical, subscription, echo

Can be set to run at scheduled times.

Works great! Have been using this for a long time now.

LightRoom 2.0 Export Addins (runs on 64bit)

Recently discovered the addins for Lightroom and use the ones for Flickr, Zenfolio and FaceBook.

So what does my workflow look like with all of this?

At my desk at home

I import my photos from my card via Lightroom 2.0 to my local pictures folder.

I do my post processing, tagging etc

Export to the site of choice.

Synctoy runs that night an makes two copies. One folder pair puts a copy of my pictures and lightroom catalog on an external harddrive, the other puts a copy on my photos folder on my WHS machine via mapped drive. I now have three copies of my photos and my edits

On the road Im lucky enough to get to travel to some cool places and frequently build in an extra day to go sightseeing/shooting.

Import my photos from my card to my Pictures folder on my laptop

Establish an internet connection

Live Mesh/FolderShare begin copying my files to my WHS machine and my home PC.

Next morning I have three copies stored

Synctoy runs on my home machine, compares the folders that I am syncing with and makes updates as needed.

WHS runs nightly and backs up my entire home pc.

Additional comments

If I was pro, Id set up another WHS machine remotely and use foldershare or livemesh to keep the machines in sync

FolderShare and LiveMesh do a lot of the same so one or the other likely will do you just fine.

The above can seem kludgey but once set up, you don’t have to think about it.

Microsoft Professional Photography is a destination to learn more about tech of interest to photographers, some of which you have covered: HD Photo and Photosynth. Autocollage is another one to check out!.