Four times. Four times in the past few weeks a young person or college student has come up to me at church and said something like, "I think my computer crashed."
"Well, do you have a backup?"
"Why not?" I ask.
What follows is a look of I know I should be doing that but I don't.
Why don't people back up their stuff?
My wife and I were attending Polishing the Pulpit two years ago and my wife was trying to clear up some space on the hard drive on her computer when she accidentally deleted the photo library.
This was the photo library that contained nearly every photo from the first ten months of our firstborn son's life.
My wife was obviously completely distraught, and so was I. Fortunately, I was able to procure a sketchy program to retrieve deleted files and was able to salvage about 80% of those photos.
But you won't be so lucky, especially if you hard drive stopped working. Or if you had a fire. Or you dropped your phone in the toilet that had 6 months of pictures on it because you don't ever plug your phone up to a computer.
Here's what you can do today.
Start making regular backups. If you can't remember, set a calendar alert. Plug your phone into iTunes and let it do its thing and backup once a week. Make sure Auto Backup is enabled on your Android device - all your files, photos and settings will be backed up to the cloud. That way you're only out the last 7 days of photos or files if you're making regular backups. Conversely, you need to make a backup of your computer. This requires an external hard drive. I recommend the Seagate Slim 2TB - just about a hundred bucks. This is easy to do if you have a Mac - just plug your Time Machine drive in every ten days when it reminds you to. Then you can also use an app called SuperDuper to make a literal bootable copy of your hard drive in case something bad happens. Do that every month at least.
For the Windows people, Windows' built-in Backup and Restore [video] is actually pretty good. First of all it's free and built-in, so all you have to do is search in the Windows Menu to find it. You can set timed backups, which files to backup, and how often to do it. You can also use the lightweight DriveImage XML to make a full bootable backup of your PC.
This all sounds complex, but it really isn't. Just a few minutes a week and a few more a month could really save you a lot of trouble if your hard drive fails, you have a accident with your computer or you get a virus and your files are corrupted.
Making a big image copy of your hard drive? Just set it before bed, plug in the external HD, and it'll be done when you wake up.
Making a weekly backup? Set your reminder alarm to remind you to do it just before you go to lunch. Incremental backups (like Time Machine) only take a really long time the first time they back up. Then they are done in minutes on every sequential backup.
Get an external HD and keep it in a safe place when not using it. I wouldn't recommend using your backup drive to store other files on, by the way. Only use that drive for backups.
Backing up isn't for the paranoid, it's for people who don't want to lose their stuff.