As internet connections have gotten faster and larger files can be pushed across the web, a new consumer service offering has really taken off - online backups. The typical backup system for a home PC is either a manual process like burning your files to a CD or an automatic setup like software that copies your files to an external hard drive every night.
Online backup services offer yet another alternative. For a small fee they backup your files onto a computer across the internet. Though there are many companies that offer this service, I am writing here about one particluar company. I like Mozy.com mostly because they are one of the least expensive I could find and they even offer a limited residential plan for free.
To setup, open your web browser and go to http://mozy.com. There are two options for non-commercial customers. A limited 2GB account for free or an unlimited account for $4.95 per month. You can add space to the 2GB account by referring friends to mozy.com. After you sign up, you will be emailed a link to download the backup software. You will have to install the software then tell it which files to backup. The great thing about online backups is that your files are stored offsite. So if disaster struck and your computer and backup devices at home were stolen or destroyed, then your photos, music and other important files could still be retrieved.
Because your files are backed up over the internet rather than to a local drive, an initial backup of 16GB could take more than a week. It works in the background though and you can still do other things on your computer while it works. Once the initial backup is complete, recurring backups run much more quickly since they only have to copy files that you have changed.
Another reasonably priced online backup service worth mentioning is carbonite.com. They offer an unlimited account for about $50 annually. Wether you want to use an online service or backup to an external hard drive, the most critical step is to start. So many times I have heard a customer say "I was going to start backing up, but just never got around to it". This statement usually comes right after I tell them their files are gone forever.