Not backing up is like not wearing a seatbelt
When you enter your car (for those who drive), and start the engine, the first rule is that you always have to fasten your seat belt before you set the car in motion. This is the analogy of having all that crucial data on your computer or laptop backed up on a regular basis. In plain English Not backing up is like not wearing a seatbelt. You can drive that car for months on end without a single problem, but the day you get an accident i will let you predict the rest. After several interactions with a number of friends who horribly lost their data that in most cases contained vital business files, i felt compelled to scribble down a few pointers on backing up your 0s and 1s (a form in which computer saves data). According to Graziadio Business report, the highest cause of data loss is due to hardware failure and human error, with other causes like software corruption, theft, human error, viruses as we can see in the pie chart below. We can go through a crash course of backing up data for dummies.
Rule of Thumb: Always have more than one copy of everything
With no excuses always remember to backup your data files every day. May be backing up on a daily basis is a stretch, especially for busy people or poor me who can be forgetful at times, but using a decent file backup program can do an incremental backup–copying only the files that have been created or changed since the last backup.
So what is this thing I am calling data? When i say data files, I mean your documents, photos, spreadsheets, songs, and so on. If you back up all of your Libraries, or everything in the Users folder, you should get all of these.
On a system basis
This may not be that essential but you might also consider backing up your system–Windows and your applications. Should some disaster render Windows unusable, you can always go through the long process of reinstalling the operating system, personalizing the settings, and reinstalling all of your programs. But if you have a system backup, you can simply restore that in much less time and with much less effort.
For a reliable Windows backup, i advise to use something known as an image backup. It will basically create a record of everything on the drive or the partition. This need not be done on a regular basis, personally, back up the system three times a year.
For those using Windows 7 and 8, both come with decent backup programs capable of both file and image backups. I always prefer the free version of Easeus To Do Backup, which is more diverse and also does both.
Most people back up on external hard drives which is a fast and cheap solution, and are clearly the best option assuming you can afford a hard drive.
Lets go to the cloud
The latest and more reliable solution is using online services that will back your files up to the cloud. Online backup will put a huge physical distance between your computer and the backup. This means that your data are risk free from fires, floods, or burglary. It should however be noted with the current dumb internet speeds especially upload speeds, expect a slower data retrieval and back up experience, which in the long run also expensive.
As a personal recommendation, using Carbonite or MozyHome for cloud backup will sort you out for years. Don’t get me wrong; there are better backup apps if you know how to search the “Internets”. But my recommendations above are tried and tested than their competition, and I can say that they work reliably.