Consumer Reports has said that if a computer breaks in the first 2 years, fix it, in the second two years, think about it based upon price of repair, and after that, chuck it into Lake Lanier. Well, dispose of it the right way (see above). I think this is a little aggressive but it shows how much they consider a computer a commodity.
The value of a computer is the data on it and that is why a backup solution like Carbonite or Mozy (which I don’t know as well) is so important. Data on a computer can be divided into the operating system (Windows XP, Vista, 7, Mac OSX), the applications (word, excel, powerpoint, quicken) and the data (pictures, videos, emails, music). Carbonite and the like will back up the data. Should you have a catastrophic failure of your computer, you will have to replace the hard drive (or reformat if it’s a virus), install the operating system and applications again, and then import your data with Carbonite. You can download Carbonite here: Carbonite Sign-Up.