I made the choice to get a Airport Express Base Station and actually ordered one today and can't wait to get it. I have a network set up where I have a MacBook Pro and soon my fiancee will be getting a MacBook Pro as well. My main server computer is currently a Windows XP based machine but my original plan was to replace this with a Mac Pro this summer.

We both have our own home based businesses which are as well internet based businesses so a reliable computer network and internet is important. Currently our Windows XP server is not that reliable but most of our data (Office files, inDesign files, PDF's, Photoshop files, as well as Dreamweaver and other web page development files) is actually stored on our laptops themselves. Also, even many of our media files (mp3's, some videos, and especially photos is stored on our laptops. Larger files such as final cut pro projects we are working on as well as other media files we don't store on our laptops and files that we share in our businesses or rarely used files are stored on this server hard drive but most often this server acts as a 'backup hard drive' for our laptops in case we were to lose one or have a hard drive crash and it acts vice versa of course also. It also works as a printer server for a usb all in one fax/copier/printer.

The more I looked at the airport base station I realized this could act as my server. Obviously the usb printer could be hooked in to it to act as a network printer but now that it can accept one or more hard drives it looks even more likely. I can see myself purchasing a 250-500 gig usb external hard drive and simply plugging it in to make a 'network' drive which my server currently has.

1. Reliabilty: My main concern is reliability. When I first switch to Mac a couple months ago I was warned that when it comes to external drives use firewire, not USB, since USB is not as reliable. Maybe someday airport base stations will offer firewire but how reliable are these usb hard drives?

2. Speed: I know USB 2.0 offers 480Mbps which seems like more than enough speed but does that offer enough speed compared to if I had a hard drive directly in the computer? For example if I'm using Final Cut Pro working on a video file will it work okay working across the network at 'n' networking speeds or will it want me to be doing it on a computer with the hard drive actually inside that specific computer?

3. Which hard drive: For internal drives I've always preferred Maxtor but now that it's coming to External drives is there any specific type, brand, etc? that I should look for? I have seen some very nice, under $200, 500GB drives. As well, I like the western digital portable hard drives and have seen a 120GB model for around $100 which would be great to use as a backup drive (which can then later be stored in a safe) or even on the go in a laptop bag.

4. Backup Type: In addition to the main hard drive and printer I want to use a hard drive at times for backup. Is there any specific Mac sofware that is great to do either a file by file backup or one large file (compressed file) backup to a network hard drive?

5. Hubs: Obviously with these multiple devices I need a good USB 2.0 hub but beyond that do I need any specific hub?

I know this won't totally satisfy my desire for a desktop Mac. I'm sure I'll get one with time but at least I can put off my purchase longer having a reliable network drive/printer and also when I purchase a desktop Mac I can likely get a less costly setup.
I know this is a lot of questions but thanks in advance for any help.