It has happened to nearly everyone at one point or another; we have lost some or all of our data – whether it be due to a computer crash, virus, losing the only disc, or deleting the only copy. Whatever the case may be, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk and not be put in that position again.
The key to backing up your files is to devise some type of system that works best for you and stick to it. You may choose to do it manually or use an automatic backup program. Whatever your case is, stick with it and do it repeatedly. Also, name and date your backups. If you have multiple versions, you will be able to tell which version is the most recent.
Hard Drives – Today external hard drives are so cheap that everyone should have one. They are not only perfect for storing all of those family photos and mp3's, but the perfect solution for backing up critical files and in most cases ALL of your files. They are also a fast way to backup large files that may be too big for CDs or even DVDs.
CDs & DVDs – Backing up your files on a CD or DVD is also very important. Hard drives can go corrupt, get viruses, and can crash. Once your files are burned on a disc they are reliably safe. Blank disks are so cheap that it should be a part of everyones backup procedure. Discs are also a prefect solution for archiving files that you no longer need on your computer.
Offsite Backup – It is also extremely important to have at least some form of off-site backup. You could have a dozen backups at your home or office, but something could happen to that location such as a fire, theft, or a natural disaster. They will not do you any good if they are all lost. A simple fix is to keep a copy of your files at both your home and office. Or mail CDs or DVDs of your files to a friend or relative in another location. If something were to happen you would at least have that as a "fail safe". Also Online Storage is another form of off-site backup.
Online Storage – There are plenty of online options such as xdrive (www.xdrive.com) and box (www.box.net) that range in price from free or start at around $ 5 a month. You may also use your current web-hosting as another form of backup. Most hosting plans offer at least 5 gigabytes of hosting space. You could create a folder on there called backup and upload all your files there.
Other Alternatives – Most web-based email accounts offer a large amount of storage space that could have been used to backup files. Either upload your files there, if that is an option, or simply email yourself an attachment and you have another copy of it online. There is a great service called yousendit (www.yousendit.com) that allows you to email large attachments. It only stores them online for 7 days, but it is a good way to send a large file from the office to your home to then backup later.
* Side Note – Battery backup systems for your desktop computer are a must have in case of a power outage. They will keep your computer running for several minutes giving you time to save and shut down your computer. No more losing files due to power outages.