Everybody says it, but most people don’t really understand it until they need to restore some data they don’t have saved. Only then does it sink in for most people. Not that I’ve never lost anything, but when your job in college was rotating 9-track tapes to offsite locations for 20 hours a week for a bank, backup has been ingrained to my genes for longer than I can think. One of the reasons DEC was my favorite operating system is that every time you saved your work, a copy was made, so unless you purged your old files, you could see the state of your work as it progressed and recover to any point in time you wanted. Still to this day Windows hasn’t completely duplicated this built in functionality.
But this does lead to what I feel are the 3 types of backups that everyone should have.
First the total system failure scenario: If a virus came in and deleted everything on your hard drive, or the drive fails, can you recover without spending days or weeks rebuilding your PC with your installed software, preferences and files? This is preparing for the absolute worst. Everyone should have a backup of this type.
The next type of back is backups for applications. If something major ugly happen in say your accounting software, wouldn’t it be nice to restore just it to the end of the prior day and just redo the current day, instead of correcting the current mess, or say entering a month of data. That is why we designed our backups to let you backup every time you exit the program and then purge extra backups from prior days as well as today
Lastly a backup of all your files should be made often. A backup of what you keep in your My Documents folder. So if you accidentally delete a file that you need, it can easily be restored. This backup should also include your application backups described above.
It is quite important to have backups in more than one place. Fires or theft can clear out an office, so keeping a backup in a safe deposit box or an off-site server is very important.
And once you have you plan, it is best to run a quick test to see that you can restore a file should you really need to.
It seems like a lot of time and investment, but if something goes wrong it will be worth it and you won’t even need to panic.