Online Backup Solutions
Let's start with the online backup solutions. These types of solutions are good in that they let you retrieve your backed up data from anywhere in the world. So, if you're on a business trip or on holidays, you can access your data wherever you are and hopefully your data is being held in a very safe and protected environment - data integrity should be very high, indeed.
The down side is that you will need a fast Internet connection and that's not something which everyone has. Some paid online services allow you to backup as much as 30GB and others are even unlimited but realistically unless you have a super fast connection (along with the host); it's not practical to backup huge amounts of data online, especially if you are always modifying the data. Keep in mind that most services will compress the data (and encrypt it in the process) that is to be uploaded or downloaded but it's not going to be a quick process for large amounts of data.
Nevertheless, if you only need to backup smaller amounts of data, an online solution might be the way for you to go, especially if you need to access that data anywhere. It's usually very simple, which makes it great for the average Joe. Some services even allow you to mirror a hard drive on your computer and you simply drag and drop files into an application which you download, nice and simple. Others allow you to setup a shared folder which you can use to share photos and what not with friends on the Internet. Some are less feature-rich than others, so make sure you look around before pulling out your credit card.
As far as pricing goes, it varies quite a lot. One service by AOL called Xdrive allows you to backup 5GB of data for free, just as long as you have an AOL or AIM screen name. iStorage by Iomega let's you backup a total of 25GB using one of their professional plans but that will cost you $99.99 per month or $1079.89 per year with a 10% discount - so not exactly cheap! Mozy is one solution which seems to be popular and for good reason, it's much cheaper than the others. Mozy allows you to backup 50GB of data for just $4.95 per month (or $54.45 per year) and even comes with automatic Microsoft Outlook file detection and backup. This works out to be around 10 cents per GB or a little over one buck per GB each year. As far as bang for buck goes, Mozy was the best we could find and it would be our choice if we were to use online backup.
There are cheaper (read: free) online backup options out there but always remember you get what you pay for and quality isn't something you want to be sacrificing when it comes to data backup! For comparison sakes, say you buy a 320GB Seagate 7200.10 SATA drive, which costs about $100 USD. You are paying a little over 30 cents per GB but with iStorage you are paying $4 per GB, every month or $48 per GB, each year. Granted you still need to buy an external HDD enclosure for your Seagate drive or maybe a more advanced backup solution but still you are paying a huge price premium for online storage in some cases. Of course though, that comes with its advantages such as being able to access that data anywhere and they are (hopefully) protected it well for you without the need for you to be worrying about theft in your office, for instance.
Now that we've ventured into the world of online backup, let's check out some of the offline hardware backup solutions that are on the market.