Most large companies understand the importance of backing up their servers and desktop PCs. They will usually have well thought-out and tested disaster recovery plan. This will usually include daily automated backups and secure off-site storage. Smaller companies & individuals often overlook this critical requirement.

Go on - be honest - when was the last time that you backed up your PC? Yesterday, last week, last month, last year or perhaps even never?

If you have a backup, where is it kept? In a bank vault, at home or in your desk?

Don't feel too guilty - you're not alone. The unfortunate fact is that most home and small business users simply don't back up their PCs regularly. Even when they do, it is usually just stuffed into the back of a nearby drawer.

Now just take a moment to consider how inconvenient it would be to lose all your files. All your carefully filed emails, contact details and financial documents. Months worth of work. Even a typical home user may have a treasured MP3 collection and irreplaceable holiday photos. It simply doesn't bear thinking about, does it?

Even if you have a fairly recent backup to hand, it is unlikely to still be available after a fire or burglary. If you regularly take a backup home with you, there is a high risk that one day it will be lost or stolen on the way, compromising your personal and business details.

So, what can you do?

We understand that making regular backups is boring. That's why we believe that the only reliable solution is one which is fully automated, and which stores an encrypted copy of your files at a secure remote location.

For individual home PCs we recommend Mozy. You can try it for free with a 2Gb backup limit, or pay a small monthly fee for as much storage as you need. It is easy to set up and use. If you have any difficulty, we can configure it remotely for you, for a small fee. Available for Windows & Mac.

A very similar alternative is Carbonite, with a free 15 day trial and then $49.95 (£25) per year for "unlimited" storage.

For small business users we recommend Mozy Pro, priced at $3.95 per PC, per month, plus $0.50 per Gb, per month. For a small office with 5 PCs, each with 2 Gb of data, that is only $297 (£150) per year.

For businesses with a large number of users or with large quantities of critical data such as database files, there are several other "industrial strength" remote backup solutions that we can recommend. These tend to be more complex and expensive to set up, but benefit from greater flexibility & performance. For large data volumes the lower on-going "per-Gb" costs can be a big benefit.

For sharing files between multiple PCs in different locations, and also backing them up to "the cloud" we recommend DropBox. You can try it for free with a 2Gb backup limit, or pay a small monthly fee for as much storage as you need. Available for Windows, Mac & Linux.

Please contact us if you need any advice or assistance with any of these solutions.

Note: All prices are correct as of June 2008. Please check each website for the latest figures.