Computer Skills #1: Back Up Your Data

There is a maxim in the computer support business:
"There are only three main habits you want to develop with your computer:
#1 Back Up Your Data
#2 Back Up Your Data
#3 Back Up Your Data"

Most importantly, data backups are the user's responsibility. This is because it's the user who suffers the consequences of data loss. This is especially important for businesses, even small ones.

"You hear terrifying stats all the time: Up to 10 percent of the world's 700 million computers crash every day; Fifty percent of businesses that lose their data never open their doors again; only 6 percent of Internet users back up daily; 43 percent have lost files at some point. People: there's no good reason for this—especially given the many excellent backup options out there. Online backup services like the excellent SOS Online Backup, Mozy, IDrive, and Norton Online Backup stand ready to protect your data."

It's this way because of the complexity of modern computers. There are simply so many things that can go wrong, and so many different ways to use computers than every computer user has entirely different sets of expectations.

Here are some reasons why people don't back up. PLEASE don't let yourself be one of them. Here is the best article on backing up I have ever read-
The Pirate Backup System: ARR

Backing up your data using the following principles will help you understand what we're doing here:
1) Near-Term- includes: external hard disks, small USB drives, floppy disks/diskettes (less popular now than they once were), NAS (network storage), sometimes including a 'mapped' (a Windows network term) or shared workgroup drive on corporate networks.
2) Archival- used to be a tape drive, but now hard disks are so inexpensive that they are being though of (erroneously) in this way. Archival storage is better thought now to be either 'in the cloud', or on CD/DVD media.
3) Offsite- Not in your physical location. Some shared corporate assets could be considered this way, but most 'in the cloud' services these days are sufficient, as
long as your data needs are less than 60-100GB. These solutions (Sugarsync, Dropbox, Carbonite, Mozy, among others; click here for a 2010 comparison; NOTE: most online backup services have ended unlimited storage plans)
4) Data Portability (also serves as a VERY near term backup, in a sense)

Most modern email clients can be synched very simply to your mobile phone/smartphone. Since most people are using web-based email clients like Yahoo and Gmail (and if you're still using your ISP's email, change quickly; there are too many advantages when using web-based email clients for data portability and many other reasons) then that part is easy.

Using other web-based clients like Dropbox, Instapaper, Evernote and so on provide similar benefits and they will usually have native applications to your platform, be it iPhone/iPod Touch-based, Android-based or even Windows Phone-based.

So backing up and data portability are converging, as with so many other things- into "the cloud". Take advantage of it!