As you've probably noticed, we take a lot of pictures. Hundreds. Thousands even. We have over 10,000 digital pictures and videos on our computer--a little over 100GBs worth.
Most of these are stored on Nancy's computer, which has a measly 18 GB hard drive. Last year we bought a 160 GB external hard drive for long term photo storage since both our computers were getting cramped. It worked perfectly for holding all our valuable archived information, documents, videos, and photos.
Note the past tense. Three weeks ago the hard drive crashed and died, taking with it our thousands of files.
In a normal situation, all hope would have been lost. Hard drive recovery can cost upwards of $1,000 and is not guaranteed--you have to send the drive to some Indian company and hope that it doesn't die a more complete death during shipping.
Luckily, back in February we decided to start using Mozy.com, an online backup company that offers unlimited storage space "in the cloud" for backups. You install their program on your computer and it automatically uploads anything you deem important up to their servers, distributed across the world. It then runs every day and backs up any changes you make, giving you constant access to all your files.
The initial upload of 90+ GB took a week and a half to finish, but the daily backups only take 5-10 minutes, adding our newly taken photos and updating anything we changed. After the initial upload, we ignoredMozy and let it run its course.
When the hard drive crashed, all our stuff was saved securely on Mozy's server. It took 5 days to download everything back to our newly-purchased-from-Costco 500 GB external hard drive. Nothing was lost. Nothing. It was a miracle.
I hate to imagine what we would have done had we not started using Mozy.
Moral of the story: have some backup system; some "data insurance." You will need it. Use "the cloud" for sure safety. Even if our house burns down, there's a massive earthquake that completely destroys Utah, or whatever, our files are safely backed up.