So you've just spent hours painstakingly backing up every last scrap of data on your PC to a second hard drive and a tall stack of CDs swaying swiftly in the aircon breeze. Well done. Then your house catches fire. Everything is gone. Not so well done.

Unlikely, but possible nonetheless, and no amount of disc cloning, incremental backups and external hard
drives is going to defend your data against it. Online backup is the alternative: you pays yer money, you gets yer storage space on a secure private server. Genie offers many of the features that its offline peers do, such as file compression, incremental and differential backup, scheduled tasks and encryption.

Additionally, an array of optional plugins will back up settings, histories and customisations to common programs such as MSN Messenger and Windows Media Player.

Because the average UK broadband connection doesn't offer more than 40k/second upstreams, taking a backup of your PC will take days. Even 100Mb will take the best part of an hour, although incremental backups only updating, say, new Word files in My Documents, won't take long at all.

Given that 8Gb of storage space will cost you almost £200 a year, you're not going to be uploading much
anyway. The $50 500Mb or $80 1Gb account is the more likely option and given that you get more space than that for free with Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo mail, it's also a bit of a gip.

You're paying for the knowledge that your scant few megabytes are safe, but burning your offline backup to DVD and giving it to a friend to look after is quicker and cheaper. In theory, online backup makes sense; in practice, it's more suited to business with money to burn and fat pipes to upload from than it is for us average Joes.