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Reader poll: What's the best free online backup solution?

There are lots of services that give you free storage for your data. The question is, which one works best? Hint: use a few of them.

Use MozyHome Free for simple, automated backup of 2GB' worth of important data.
Use MozyHome Free for simple, automated backup of 2GB' worth of important data.
Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

A couple weeks ago I asked you to name the best free backup program for Windows.

And, boy, what a response! Hundreds of people chimed in with dozens of great suggestions, ranging from Windows 7's built-in backup utility to folder-syncing backup hacks like SyncToy.

Today, let's talk online backups. I'm a big believer in the diversified backup plan, one that combines local and cloud-based solutions. The reasons should be obvious: an external hard drive can be stolen, destroyed in a fire, or even wrecked by malware. That's less of a crisis if your data also lives online.

Services like Carbonite and Mozy give you unlimited and 50GB of storage, respectively, for around $6 per month--not a bad deal given that they're highly automated, uploading and updating designated files and folders in the background.

Still, nothing beats free, which is why I've tapped a variety of services to cover my backup needs.

For starters, MozyHome Free offers 2GB of that sweet, sweet automated backup, which is great for small but critical documents: Word and Excel files, Quicken records, maybe even an Outlook PST file. Just set it and forget it.

You can accomplish something similar with free accounts from Dropbox and SugarSync, both of which will automatically sync selected files and folders to their servers (and, conveniently, other PCs and devices). Dropbox gives you 2GB; SugarSync, 5GB.

What about backing up big libraries of photos and music? Microsoft's Windows Live SkyDrive offers 25GB of storage at no charge. Alas, there's no easy way to sync files and folders to the service; you have to add them manually, which is OK for one-time uploads, but a hassle for adding new stuff.

Same goes for Box, which recently offered Android users 50GB of free cloud storage (which is also accessible from your desktop). There's no sync option (not for free, anyway), so it's not ideal for all kinds of backups.

Personally, I'm using Google Music to back up my music library. For zero dollars I get space for 20,000 songs, and Google's Music Manager utility automatically syncs from folders, iTunes, and/or Windows Media Player. Likewise, Google's Picasa photo editor for Windows can sync my photos to Picasa Web--but here the free space is limited to 1GB. For a paltry $5 per year, Google bumps it to 20GB.

That's just a smattering of the free online-backup options currently available. Know of any other good ones? Hit the comments and share your suggestions for low- and no-cost backup.