My mom called me the other day freaking out about a Carbonite commercial, saying I should back up my photos before disaster strikes. I've actually seen the commercials late at night (I have to admit, I find them pretty funny), but can't really wrap my mind around why the service is. I have thousands of photos stored on my laptop and do worry it will quit on me one day and I will be left without copies. Should I use this service? Thanks for your help.
— A Fellow Geeky Gal
Dear Fellow Geeky Gal,
I pleased to hear I'm not the only person who is endlessly entertained by late-night cable commercials! You ask a great question because I've been seeing the company name everywhere. Carbonite is a web service that claims to "automatically and securely back up the irreplaceable contents of your computer" for the yearly cost of about $55. It works for PC and Mac users, but has slightly different set up depending on your system. To find out if I think you — and other readers like you — need it, read more.
Before you sign up, I'd suggest perusing the Carbonite website and looking at the demos to see if it fits your lifestyle. Everyone's backup needs are unique. I like to be selective about which files I backup (I only save the most important stuff like pictures, a small number of documents, and music I can't live without), so I don't need the "automatic" program to do it for me. Given you seem most concerned with backing up your photos, I think you should investigate a photo-hosting service before you back up your entire computer and then come up with a plan for backing up your important files. I adore Flickr ($25 a year) for its networking, geotagging, and general photo fun, but also use Picasa for its free simplicity. If you want to back up more documents, check out my guide to backing up data for a peek at a few devices that may be more cost effective for you. You might also check out MobileMe, a service that allows you to sync all your photos, email, calendar, contacts from your Mac (iCal, iDisk, Address Book, and Mail) or PC (Microsoft Outlook) to your iPhone over the air (it costs about $100 a year).
Cheers to planning to back up your data, not matter which route you pick! Anyone who has ever lost their hard drive or even a few files can tell you it's a devastating experience.
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