This post is especially for Janet, who is an honorary family member. I had dinner with her and Nancy in Long Beach (with Nancy's grandson, the spitting image of Ronnie) and the question of backing up computers was raised. I told Janet I would post something here for everyone. There is lots of advice out there on backing up, and I know some of you are using external hard drives to keep things safe. That is an excellent approach, but there is one other thing you can do to keep yourself safe, and that is to use online networked backup.
Online networked backup means your computer is backed up to some remote server on the Internet. This is an added measure of insurance. If you are using just an attached hard drive in your home, an electrical surge through your house can wipe out both your computer's hard drive and your attached hard drive. I lost a computer this way, and it looks like the same thing has happened to Gabriel recently, so this is not a far-fetched scare scenario.
The remote storage I like right now is Mozy. You get 2G of online storage for no charge. You configure Mozy to make backups on a periodic schedule, such as once a week. The backup happens in the background, so you don't have to do anything after you set it up. 2G is not enough to back up all your music files, but it is enough in most cases to deal with your most important documents, homework, budget spreadsheets, particularly treasured photographs, etc. You can tell Mozy what type of documents to back up, or which folders to backup. I use a version that I pay $5.00 a month for, so I get unlimited backup, but I used the free version for quite a while before switching.
If you do end up trying Mozy, you should post something here to let everyone know. You will receive a code, so if someone else joins on your recommendation using your code, you will receive extra memory (probably 512N) and so will the person signing up. Everyone's a winner.
Unfortunately, Mozy only works for PCs and Macs right now. I've asked that a version for Linux be developed, and you should too if you use Linux.