Earlier this week, we talked about how to back up your data automatically with an external hard drive. (Remember – you can still get $50 off a Time Capsule if you mention this blog post.) Now, let’s talk about another way to back up your files – over the Internet.

These days, there are lots of online backup companies out there, who let you automatically back up (and retrieve) your data over the Internet.

Pros: Your data is stored off-site, which means it’s safe even if something happens to both your computer and your external hard drive

Cons: You’ll typically pay a small monthly or annual fee. The initial backup could take a while – even overnight (regular daily backups usually only take a minute or two). And you’ll need Internet access to retrieve your files.

Here are a few of our favorite online backup providers:

Mozy – this is the online backup service we use, and we have a lot of clients using it, too. They use the same security that online banks use, and you can download your files with just one click from anywhere, if needed. Plus, Mozy saves yesterday’s versions of your files as well as today’s versions – which is handy if you accidentally delete a file and don’t catch your mistake until the next day. Mozy starts at $5.99 per month.

Carbonite – another popular option, Carbonite also automatically backs up your files safely and securely, and offers remote access to your data. Carbonite’s basic cost of $54.95/year offers unlimited backup space (Mozy charges more after the first 50GB).

CrashPlan – we’ve been hearing a lot about CrashPlan recently. With CrashPlan, you can get a plan that lets you back up your files to another computer – even a friend’s computer – for free. They call it a “social backup concept.” It’s an interesting idea, as long as you trust your friends. You can also back up online to CrashPlan’s servers for $3/month (individual) or $6/month (family). One interesting feature – unless you tell them otherwise, your deleted files are available to be restored forever.

The bottom line? Yes, an online backup or external hard drive can take some time to set up and manage. But think of it as insurance for your Mac. Trust us – if something ever happens to your computer, you’ll be glad you have a backup.