As Steve mentioned earlier today, there are lots of cloud-based backup services eager to help you protect your data while solving the onsite/offsite conundrum. A backup of uncertain status in a single location isn't much better than no backup at all -- for one thing, it gives you a sense of confidence that your data is protected when it might not be.
Getting your data tucked away with Dolly Drive, Backjack, Backblaze, Mozy, Carbonite or CrashPlan may not be the fastest or cheapest approach, but sooner or later it may save your bacon. Compare and contrast plans here. (Lifehacker has a full rundown on how CrashPlan can help you sleep soundly at night, knowing your backups are solid.)
Even if you're not up for a full-on cloud backup solution (whether due to bandwidth or budget constraints), there are still some surprisingly easy ways to back up your key files in the cloud, and do it for cheap or free. All of these approaches require a bit more thinking than the automated tools above, but if you're the sort of person who makes copies of your bank statements or saves your dry cleaning receipts, then you can probably get into these habits, too.
If you're already a MobileMe subscriber, take advantage of that 20 GB of space sitting there on your iDisk. You can choose how to split that allocation between email and disk storage, but having gigabytes of prepaid storage at your fingertips means it's easy to back up critical files. Set your own reminders to copy files to iDisk, or use Apple's own Backup utility (see Dave's rundown here), or a sync tool like ChronoSync to keep your essential items backed up and safe.
Needless to say, we love ourselves some Dropbox. The cloud storage service will happily sync 2 GB of your data, free of charge, and you can upgrade to a higher-capacity plan anytime. The wonderful part about Dropbox as an ad-hoc backup tool is that you don't really have to do anything; just keep your key files in your Dropbox folder, and they're saved out there for you automagically, including versioning if you happen to need to revert to an earlier state of a file.
There's a time-honored backup tool that's only gotten better with the advent of free services like Gmail, Aol mail and Yahoo! mail: emailing yourself the files you want to save. Yes, it seems low-tech, but with 7+ GB of free Gmail storage, it's easy and free to hold onto your files as email messages. Of course, it's on you to make sure you send yourself a copy, but if you get in the habit of cc:ing your Gmail account when you email enclosures to others, it takes care of itself. You can set up a rule to auto-file your backups into a folder, either by noting that you're the sender or by looking for a key phrase in the subject line.
If you'd rather have some context with your key files, consider Evernote's premium service. For $45 you get unlimited storage for file attachments and notes, with 1 GB of upload bandwidth per month. You can combine the email approach with your Evernote inbound email address and get simple, always-synced backups of your most important data.
Now, of course, it's giveaway time. We've got two gift cards good for a year each of CrashPlan+ Unlimited service, allowing you to back up your computer to any other computer or to CrashPlan's remote servers all year long. Just leave a comment telling us about your worst lost-data moment (sorry!), and we'll enter you to win.
- Open to legal US residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia, and residents of Canada (except Quebec) who are age 18 and older.
- To enter leave a comment on this post about your lost-data nightmare.
- The comment must be left before Saturday April 2 at 11:59 PM EDT.
- You may enter only once.
- 2 winners will be selected in a random drawing.
- Prize: One CrashPlan+ Unlimited yearly gift card (ARV US$49.99).
- Click Here for complete Official Rules.