We've all been warned: "don't lose your laptop." Every employee at every company is told at some juncture that the information stored on their computer is tremendously important, and it would be damaging on a number of levels if that data were lost. In the past, backing up one's work computer had been a royal pain. For starters, no one wants to take the time to back up a work machine during personal time, and secondly, many organizations have operated without a clear plan for managing these backups.
Today, however, it's easier than ever to back up a phone, tablet, and even laptop. Thanks to the "cloud," there's little left to do besides choosing a service provider and installing their software. There are companies today that will hold backups of your machine on vast storage farms far, far away from you. You simply upload your data from wherever you have an Internet connection, and it's stored safely in an offsite location. Besides making it easy on you, it also allows you to retrieve backups even if your laptop is outright destroyed.
Crashplan is great option for most, with prices that are far more reasonable than another option you may hear about: Mozy. With the Crashplan+ option, $50 per year will allow unlimited cloud backups of one computer, though you can backup between two and ten machines for just $120 per year. To get started, you simply sign up, download the Crashplan software, and make sure you're near a solid Internet connection. The initial backup can take days as the service clones your entire computer, but from that point on, it simply tracks small file changes and additions to keep your backup completely up-to-date. It's practically effortless after that initial upload.
If you're looking for an interesting mix of online backup plus online file storage, there's Livedrive. It takes the best parts of Crashplan and the best parts of services like Dropbox and combines them. If you're just looking to keep one machine backed up online, you can use Livedrive's service for $80 per year. Those who need to back up as many as five machines can opt for the $250 per year Pro Suite, which includes a wealth of online file storage for things like essential photos and documents as well as remote access to those files from any machine in the world.
As for keeping your phone and tablet backed up? My recommendation is to sync your devices to your laptop once per day, and once the material is on there, it will automatically be backed up as part of your computer's cloud backup.
It's never convenient to think about starting this process, but those who lose everything look back with nothing but regret. If you've got a week or two off this holiday season, why not take a few hours and back up your digital life? In the event of a disaster, you'll be glad you did.