A good data backup strategy, whether for a large business or a single PC, should probably center on a multi-tiered approach. But before I go further, understand that no single solution will work for everyone. What you decide to use should be customized to work with your particular situation. In other words, YMMV, insert disclaimer here. In addition, I’m not a computer professional. However, the files I create at work are critical in doing my job. If yours are as critical, you should be doing something to backup those files.
Since I’m not a large business, I’m going to talk about what someone at home might consider.
In essence, the strategy is to create multiple copies of the data and place them in multiple locations. The intent is to cover oneself, using prudent measures, and not worrying about “End of the world” events over which you have no control.
The first level is keeping multiple copies of your work on a separate partition of your main drive. This way, you can always roll back to a known earlier working copy. The upside is that restores would be fast and easy. The downside occurs when this drive fails and you loose all your copies.
The second level is to backup your data to another drive. This drive could be in the form of RAID configuration within your PC, an external USB/eSATA drive connected to your PC, a drive on a server somewhere else, or an optical drive (CD or DVD). The upside is if your main drive fails, you still have the other drive(s). The downside is if the event is a fire/flood/earthquake that takes out your entire house/city/state/country, it doesn’t matter that you have another drive.
But you’ve read all of this before and are probably wondering why I’m talking about this again. Well, I went out and bought a Seagate FreeAgent 500GB external USB drive. It may not be the best/cheapest drive around but for about $120USD, I figured it was good enough.
All I had to do was plug in the A/C power and USB cable and I had a 460GB (formatted) external drive. Note that it doesn’t come with any backup software so you have to use what you have. Otherwise, it just works.
On the other hand, I wish I had the money to get a network attached drive so I wouldn’t need to carry the Seagate from PC to PC when I want to do backups but, for the money, I guess that’s just one of the things I’ll have to do (of course, I could share the drive over my network but I don’t think I want to do that).