Online Backup Service or External Hard Drive Backup Dilemma

I am sure this is a dilemma that many people face; I am at the point where I have to decide soon, before it is too late. 

An external hard drive seems like it would be the logical choice, but after having three drives crash (one Seagate and two Western Digital Passports),  I have such a distrust in external backup drives, it gave me a false peace of mind that my data was safe.  Then, when I least expected it (less than two months later), it starts clicking and beeping like it is on life-support.  I don’t know if I will ever be able to recover the information off of them.   I just wish I could find an external hard drive that is sturdy and reliable; especially if it got dropped or bumped it won’t die on the spot.

I checked into Carbonite, $99 a year, is it worth it though?  Some of their ratings on various websites are both good and bad.  I have irreplaceable files such as 100+ GB of MP3s, genealogy files of our family’s history that was traced back a few hundred years, family photos (some of people who have passed on) and very sensitive work related files and personal information on my computer that I would not want to be seen by anyone but me.  I guess I have a fear of out of sight, out of mind when it comes to my data that I really wouldn’t have control of it, if I left it up to someone else to do the monitoring.

Update – I chose a Toshiba 1TB external hard drive, but as a backup to that I am considering purchasing three 128GB or 256GB USB Flash Drives, to backup my Documents, Music and Pictures Directory just as a safety cushion.

How do you backup your data, is there a certain method you prefer?