There is no denial that today we use computers more than ever. Not just one machine, but many times, multiple machines. Personally, I have one family desktop and in my room I have another laptop. In a few months time yet another laptop will be arriving. Therefore, increasingly, one finds it a challenge to manage data across multiple computers. Furthermore, it is common to own a few thumbdrives and harddrives to add to the arsenal of data storage devices.
With so much data accumulated in so many different physical locations, managing and organising them in a central location then becomes an administrative nightmare most will face in time to come. I don't know about you, but I'm facing this issue. This makes data backup very tough because it's hard to account for all the files, i.e. which ones are duplicates, or which are newer versions as they are scattered all over.
But backup, as complex as it seems, is actually quite clear-cut. Or at least, the philosophy behind the management of your documents should be as simple as this: A file only exists when it exists in two or more separate physical locations.
This is the reason for backup. One can only guarantee that a document is truly safe when it exists in another storage device. This is because harddrives do fail, and the more we come into contact with them, the higher the probability that they will malfunction. So always backup your data, and until you do that, none of your data really exists because they can be gone anytime during a crash or virus attack.
So how do I ensure everything is foolproof, and that data exists in more than two locations? The strategy is to backup the backup. Get TWO huge harddrives, probably around 500GB. Use one to backup all your data (either manually or using software such as Time Machine), then copy all that exists on that first drive into the second one. In other words, mirror that first drive. Lastly, bring that second drive and store it out of your house (maybe at grandparent's place or at office). You never know when your house will be burned down by fire, or when there will be an earthquake. At least when that happens and your house becomes reduced to rubble, you know that your precious data will still be safe in another location, and that's key.
Another way to bring that data out of your house is to store it up in the cloud. This means uploading stuff to online data storage services such that they are independent of any physical harddrive. It's all stored online in the servers of that company. Examples are Windows Live Skydrive, Amazon's S3 service and Apple's iDisk. Most are paid services however.
In today's digital world, your data is about as precious as your life. All your photos, music, documents, videos ARE what you want to preserve, so do backup today keeping in mind this philosophy. You will feel more secure!