Photo: jon_a_ross via Flickr
As any computer expert will tell you: back up early and often.
But what happens when you don’t have enough space and want to back up and restore your entire computer? Or what happens when your hard drive crashes in the middle of an important assignment?
That’s what online backup services are for. You can store all your files in the cloud so you know it’s always there if your hardware crashes.
There are several options for online PC backups, so we did some digging and found the best ones.
Backblaze 2.0 is an easy online back up solution that continuously saves your content. The service allows you to choose from a single file, multiple files, or the entire contents of your computer.
You can choose to restore files by downloading a zip file or Backblaze will send you a USB hard drive/flash drive. The ability to view and restore files from a web browser is also helpful.
Your data is encrypted several times, first on your computer and then over an encrypted connection. There's also a feature that helps you locate a lost or stolen computer.
Backblaze 2.0 is available for Mac and Windows and offers plans that start as low as $3.96/month with unlimited storage.
Carbonite backs up your info automatically, providing step by step guidance to restore files exactly where they were previously.
The program provides access to your files from anywhere and even gives you access on the go from your iPhone, iPad, Android, or BlackBerry.
Carbonite is available for Mac and Windows and offers customers three plans, all with unlimited storage, starting at $59/year.
mimedia makes it easy to access your important files from anywhere. Music, photos, video, files, and backups are all stored online.
The service provides access to your media on demand. The ability to stream music and videos from anywhere is killer. mimedia stands out by allowing users to also share their information with others easily.
Just like all the rest, everything is secure, easy, and automatic.
mimedia is available for PC with a Mac solution coming soon. Access on the go is available for iPhone and iPad.
There are two plans to choose from, one for free that gives you 7GB and a premium plan that gives 250GB for $99/year.
Crashplan has no storage limits, the service backs up your information securely to multiple locations, so there's less of a chance your data will be lost. Crashplan automatically backs up your computer daily and even saves files from all attached external drives.
Crashplan is available for Mac, Windows, Linux, and Open Solaris. Plans start for free and range from $24.99/year to $119.99/year. Mobile access is available with a CrachPlan+ subscription for iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows Phone, and the Amazon Appstore.
You get 2GB of storage for free. For $5.99/month you get 50GB and can back up one computer. For $9.99/month you get 125GB and can back up three computers. An extra $2/month lets you add another computer. Mobile access is available for iPad, iPhone, and Android.
Box.com's goal is to help keep your digital life in one centralized place. They allow you to organise information into various folders, send large files quickly and embed files directly onto your website.
In terms of collaboration, you can share a file or document and receive direct feedback from your audience.
Box.com gives 5GB for free, 25GB for $9.99/month, and 50GB for $19.99/month with mobile solutions available for iPhone, iPad, Android, and Blackberry.
SugarSync backs up all of your files to the cloud. When you change something they note the difference so your backups are always current.
SugarSync not only stores files, but also allows you to pick up where you left off. For example, if you are working on a document at home and then head to a different computer you can finish up without a hitch.
File sharing and collaboration are also helpful. If working on a joint document your changes and other changes will be reflected so version control issues are a thing of the past.
SugarSync gives 5GB for free and is available for Mac and Windows. Mobile solutions include iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone, and Symbian.
Dropbox is a pick and choose solution. While it does not allow you to back up your entire computer and easily restore it, Dropbox is a good solution for backing up photos, important files, music, and more.
Dropbox gives you 2 GB of storage for free (with up to 16 GB for free by referring friends)
For $9.99/month you can purchase 50 GB from Dropbox, giving you plenty of additional storage.
Dropbox is available for Mac and PC and can also be accessed on the go with apps available for iPhone, iPad, Android, and Blackberry.
Google Drive is the new kid on the block and the service goes beyond just simply storing your files. Google Drive allows you to share your files and collaborate with anyone. Built-in Google Docs access comes standard and the Google+ and Gmail integration is helpful.
Google Drive is available for Mac and Windows with mobile access for Android devices. iPhone and iPad access is coming soon.
The cloud storage solution from the search giant starts you off with 5GB for free with the ability to upgrade to 25 GB for $2.49/month and 100GB for $4.99/month.
SkyDrive allows users to back up content from multiple computers to the cloud. Microsoft Office users will appreciate seamless integration of the productivity suite. Collaboration is simple, social media integration is standard, and it is simple to share files, no matter the size, just by sending a link.
SkyDrive gives existing users 25GB of storage for free. New users get 7GB for free, 20GB for $10/year, 50GB for $25/year, and 100GB for $50/year.
SkyDrive is compatible with Mac and Windows. On the go you can access your files by using your smartphone's web browser or an App available for Windows Phone, iPad, and iPhone.