Make sure you have a copy somewhere besides on the computer, typically referred to as a backup and recovery method.
The most important thing you can do is to have someplace you can go to retrieve the information! The old days of backing up to tape (yes we did this in the olden times) or some other media device and sending it offsite to a secure location are over.
First, develop some type of backup and recovery plan and test it every once in a while to see how well it actually works. There is nothing worse than losing all of those family photos! You will have to decide for yourself what is important for you to save, and how comfortable you are if you do not back up some files.
Some folks like to backup everything on their hard drive others believe all they need to backup is their Documents, Bookmarks, etc. Again you have to decide for yourself.
Typically there are two places where you can store your backup. The first is an external device (hard drive, flash drive, etc) or the other is on-line from one of the many providers.
Backup to an external device usually requires software and booting from a CD, DVD, or Floppy drive. You should do this to ensure all files are backup, Windows Operating Systems requires some files to be open and will not backup if you boot from the hard drive.
Backup using one of those on-line services is typically done for only documents that you constantly changing. It is more cost-effective because they charge a monthly fee based upon the space your using on their servers.
Most end users do a combination of these methods, typically first they make a backup of your entire hard drive to an external device and then make backups of your files that are of importance or changed since the last backup. Often using the online service for the latter.
There are several types of backups all depending upon exactly the backup plan that you decide to use. Just to make clear the different types of backups:
- Full Backups All files are backup
- Incremental backups This will only backup files that have changed since the last Full Backup
- There are a couple of other types of backups all depending upon an 'Archive' flag but for the most part, you will not use this but to briefly cover these:
- Differential backups are the same as Incremental backups but the archive flag is not updated
- Copy backups will back up no matter what the archive flag is set to and just copies the file(s).
- Daily Backups usually defined at either file that have been modified that day or of such importance to the user they require to have the file(s) back up more frequently.
For the most part, you would do a Full Backup once a week and then an Incremental backup on the other six days. Then again you may elect to do a Full Backup is on the first of every month and then Incremental Backups the other days of the month. You will have to decide for yourself what is the best method for you to use.