In addition to local, immediately available backups, you also want to keep a backup somewhere off-site, in case of fire, flooding, earthquake, or other traumatic events that could destroy your home. One option is to store a set of backup CDs or DVDs at a friend or family member’s house, in a safe deposit box, at your office, or with your personal lawyer. The further from you the better, in case of a regional disaster — getting your work might not be the first thing on your mind if your city is destroyed by flooding, but it will become important when you try to return your life to some kind of normalcy.

Another increasingly good option is to use an Internet service like JungleDisk, Mozy or Carbonite. These are Internet storage services which offer automated backups in the background while you work (or leave your computer on overnight and set them to run while you sleep).

  • Mozy offers up to 2GB free, more than enough to store most of your recent work. You can define specific folders for backup, and restore from the desktop application or from their website. Backing up your entire hard drive costs $4.95 a month.
  • Carbonite offers unlimited backup of your entire PC for $49.95 a year. Like Mozy, you can restore a single file or your entire hard drive from the desktop application or from their website.
  • JungleDisk works slightly differently, charging a tiny amount (15 cents) per GB per month, allowing you to choose exactly what you want to backup. If you just want, say, 4GB (several years’ worth of text-based files), you might pay only $0.68 US a month (that’s 68 cents, no typo!). JungleDisk uses Amazon’s S3 service, a corporate storage service, to store files, so you know it’s secure and likely to be around for a while. With the JungleDisk software, your remote storage acts like a second hard drive on your computer, so you can drag and drop files (or use the built-in automatic backup) and open them directly to and from the server. You can also use their JungleDisk Pro software to access your files from any other computer, for $1.00 US a month.

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