Backing up your computer is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself. Computers fail, drives crash, and bad things do eventually happen, but a good backup of your files will save you heartache and hours of lost work.
The cheapest and easiest way to backup your computer is with an external hard drive. You simply connect the drive, install the software, and tell it what you want backed up. As long as the drive is connected to your computer and the software is running you will be protected. The main disadvantage to this is that the drive is sitting next to your computer, so if you suffer a theft or fire you may still lose everything. Also, you will need to plan on replacing the backup drive every couple of years because they fail too!
The better way to backup your computer is with a cloud based backup service like Carbonite, Backblaze, or iDrive. You pay an annual subscription to backup your computer online. This is great because your files are backed up off-site and you can recover the data from anywhere by logging in to your account. The ongoing cost is not much more than having to buy an external hard drive every few years. Plus you can easily add more storage space as you need it.
Another way to protect yourself is by keeping your files in a cloud storage service like OneDrive, Dropbox, or Google Drive. This is not a true backup of your files, but it does store them off-site, allows you to take snapshots of files over time, and lets you go back to previous versions. This only works as long as you make sure to put all of your files in the cloud drive and don’t store anything locally.
The most important thing is to have a backup in place before you need it. If you already have one it is a good idea to check on it periodically to see what you are able to recover. You may not be backing up what you think you are.