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Help with backup strategy for laptops

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I work in a shop that issues us laptops for work, but absolutely refuses to support our portable equipment or allow us to plug in to the company network, even to make a backup? (What the...?) Me and the 8 guys I work with are treated to a "hands off" policy by our mighty IT department. We are never allowed to use our laptops on the company network, connect to it, or for that matter touch any of the other official desktop/laptop company computers. The rest of the company (about 100 employees) are provided complete IT service, VPN, company email, blackberries, support, backups, (including remote monitoring), but are absolutely forbidden from adding/removing software, applications, even drivers. Anyone touches or modifies a "Company Machine," and you can be fired. Even plugging in a USB drive to a company machine will trigger a phone call within about 30 seconds with an IT policeman wondering who is responsible for the intrusion/theft. Myself and the 8 "field guys" are given a brand new laptop computer and left to our own practices for adding and removing software, backups, porn, games, whatever we want, but if we break it or it breaks, we are on our own (but no remote monitoring for us). I would like to place a computer (a backup server/file server) in the office (our own, not the company's), so that when we are physically in the office, we can plug in our laptops into our little private local backup network, go out for lunch, and have high speed backups made on our little private server, never having to alert or alarm any of the IT Nazis. Our laptops end up being one of our most valuable tools, (if not the most valuable), but most of the guys are flying around without even a decent/reliable backup. We also have jump drives of up to about 250Gb in addition to our laptops that we use to carry our libraries of technical data we need with us at all times. It is like getting kicked in the n*ts repeatedly if you lose your jump drive or if something happens to your laptop. We are traveling constantly and plugging into computers all over the world. It seems we all take turns fighting to keep our laptops clean and safe, but when you lose one, you are really screwed. By lose, I mean break, blue screen of death, drop in water, have it stolen, whatever...years of acquiring files, highly specialized software and tools just died. You explain the "loss" to the boss, and IT department, and a month later, you get either a new laptop, or a new hard disk in the mail. That's it. No data, and no help. I would like to buy or build a machine that is big enough (250Gb or 500Gb per guy), which has 10 client licenses, encrypted file storage, and will auto backup each laptop and jump drive attached whenever a laptop is plugged in to the port at our desks. Automatic backup of sporadically available laptop computers running windows XP. This should not be that difficult. If someone would like to recommend software, hardware, or even their services, I would be happy to have the information. I find that the USB jump drives are a little too small, too portable, and a little too slow in read/write time for my liking. I would prefer to use the ethernet already installed at our desks and our own switch with a local server or some mass storage appliance to hold the data securely in our facility. Incidentally, we are field engineers in the marine industry. We work on supertankers, platforms, and other big honkin' things in the sea. Losing a laptop is a painful thing. We want a very good backup solution that works great, is highly automatic, doesn't slow us down too much, and gets us back to work in a day if something bad happens. Can we have this? Why can't we have this? How much is this? Can you do this? Can you tell me how to do this? I can tell the board of directors to pay for this! Want to help? Know somebody who can? Let's have it. Thanks!
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