Here’s a subject near and dear to my heart. Data back up. Why? Because the hard drive on my two-year-old Apple Macintosh computer failed without reason last Friday. Although I had AT&T’s online back up service installed, which saved most of my daily files, I did not have many other important files backed up. Now, I have to employ a data recovery service to retrieve the files—and that’s costly business.

Well, it turns out I am far from alone. Carbonite recently revealed the results of a survey of more than 125 small businesses with between two and 20 employees to study their disaster recovery and data backup methods. And guess what? Forty-eight percent have experienced data loss, up from 42 percent when Carbonite surveyed small businesses in December 2010.

What on earth caused so many data losses? A number of issues. But the top causes were hardware/software failure (54 percent), accidental deletion (54 percent), computer viruses (33 percent) and theft (10 percent).

Although 31 percent of small business owners surveyed agree that backing up their company’s computers is a hassle that takes time away from running their business, the research indicated that physical devices were the most prominent backup methods used by small businesses. Specifically, external hard drives (41 percent), CDs/DVDs (36 percent) and USB/flash memory sticks (36 percent) were reported as the three most-popular ways SMBs back up data.

Let’s be real. Online backup solutions offer significant advantages over traditional physical-device backups. Online back up services, for example, are automatic, continuous, offsite and don’t require any additional equipment. And the price is coming down. AT&T charges me $25 a month. Carbonite just came out with a new program that costs $229 a year. There are many different services out there to choose from. I’d recommend you go out and sign up today. Just make sure you get a reputable firm.

Even at $229 a year, that’s a lot cheaper than the time you lose, the stress you undergo, and the cost of data recovery you have to pay if you lose your data. Believe me. I’m living proof.