Like the IT fellas always say, "If you haven't experienced a dreadful hard drive crash, you will." Notice the italics? You don't need to be a genius to know the importance of backing up your data. We show you how it's done, with the power of redundancy, off-site backups, and an intuitive workflow.
What You Need
1. Organize your data. If your files are in more places than you can remember, spend a weekend or two organizing your file structure. Think of it as Spring cleaning, except digital.
2. Get some hard drives for on-site backups. While we all know backing up is important, most of us don't do it for some reason or another. Well, actually, we can probably name those reasons: time, money, and TIME. With terabytes dropping down in prices every single day, the money factor should be no longer an issue. Now there's just the time part.
There are many services out there that allow for on-site backups. We suggest grabbing Windows Home Server, a NAS box, or Apple's Time Machine. Drobo's boxes are also a great option if you can afford it.
3. Get an online service for off-site backups. Again, because of time, most of us don't have the luxury of backing up manually every few weeks. This is where Backblaze and CrashPlan come in. Simply install, set it, and forget it. Both support PC/Mac and both have their pluses and minuses.
While a formal review of the two top dog providers are underway, we can sum up our impressions in a nutshell right here: Backblaze (Excellent UI, 4GB file limit), CrashPlan (Great value for families, Okay UI, no file size limit). Both have unlimited backup, file encryption, and have been around long enough to be considered fairly reliable as a last-resort backup.
4. Get super redundant with Dropbox (your online USB stick). While a bit on the pricey side for their 50GB and 100GB options, their 2GB offering is more than enough to make kill the need of ever purchasing another USB stick. With version control, folder sharing, and a brilliant user-interface, Dropbox will allow you to keep files on 1) your computer, 2) any other computer you have an account installed on, and 3) on their servers - accessible from anywhere with an internet connection.
5. Still paranoid? You need friends. By now, you should have at least 3 locations where your data is backed up: your local backup, your online backup via one of the services listed above, and your constantly used files up in Dropbox. However, if you're still paranoid, we suggest using CrashPlan's software to back up your files to a friend's computer (you'll have to ask nicely). Your friend will not be able to see your files, but will allow you to remotely back things up to their computer if say, they have a super-computer in their basement that needs another duty associated with it.
That's it! Once you have all of your computers with these services up and running, you should be 200% more prepared than when you were without it. And if you have more tips to share, do so in the comments and we'll keep adding them to our roundups in the future!