Sharon Rainey imagines a fire burning down her office. There's a Chinese restaurant next door, she says, so it could happen. But Rainey, the office manager for Home Equity Builders, Great Falls, Va., doesn't worry about losing the company's critical data: HEB's most important files are backed up weekly on a remote server by Horizon Data, a network service provider.

Horizon charges $49.95 a month to compress, encrypt, and store each gigabyte of a customer's data. Horizon's Michael O'Doherty says the service provides insurance but shouldn't replace regular on-site backup.

HEB uses Horizon's servers to back up essential text files including estimates, account books, contact lists, contracts, and correspondence with customers, subs, and suppliers. All that totals less than one gigabyte, keeping HEB in the lowest cost bracket.

Rainey, who runs HEB with her husband, Jeff, connected with Horizon after a server failure cost them two weeks of work.

"I was pulling my hair out," she says. The worst part, Rainey adds, is not the time lost re-creating data but finding out months later you forgot something you can no longer recover.

Bob Bell, owner of Bell's Remodeling in Duluth, Minn., also lost data recently, when his home office hard drive crashed. Contacts, drawings, estimates, customer data -- "you name it, I lost it," Bell says. But he plans only to invest in a few CDs to back up his hard drive. His two-employee company is too small to warrant a greater backup investment, Bell says.

For Rainey, peace of mind is well worth the price. "To me, it's worth it to pay $50 a month to know I'm not going to be paying $2,000 in one fell swoop," she says. "It's a huge relief to us knowing we don't have to worry about it."