It's the first of the month which means it's Back Up Your Data Day (although it should be done day-to-day!).
We can also use this day to delete stuff we no longer need and defragment our hard drive(s) to keep our machine lean and clean, if you know what I mean.
Windows guide to defragmenting
Mac users don't have to defragment, apparently.
I had a computer scare last week but it would have been even more scary if I hadn't backed up. Instead of worrying about losing my pictures of Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan and Sophie from Big Brother, all I worried about was whether I could afford a new computer.
Backing up to external hard drive and flash drive is one thing but they also crash. DVD-Rs are safer but they could get lost or accidentally damaged. Besides, unless they're stored off-site then we're still at risk in the case of theft, flood or fire.
Online back-ups are therefore an alternative worth considering. Sir Jason uses Carbonite and recommends it but other online back-up services are available like BT Digital Vault, Mozy, SOS Online Backup, Intronis and IDrive.
A reminder about Matt's simple and effective back-up:
"I have never been able to get the hang of proper backup software and procedures. I always end up getting into a complete pickle about the various full backups, interim backups and how the bloody hell I'd back everything up if my hard-drive became shot with the backup software on it. So these days I just have a complete clone of My Documents on a portable drive and use Microsoft's Synctoy to keep the files up to date."
However I would suggest backing up your entire Documents and Settings folder and not just the My Documents part of it as it which would include emails and favourites/bookmarks. This link has more details.
I asked Lee about the Mac equivalent:
"Things like emails, bookmarks, fonts, templates, RSS feeds, Applescripts - anything used by an application, but not created by it when you hit Save - are kept in your Home folder, in the Library. In Mac speak, that's ~/Library. Apple apps such as Mail, Safari, and iTunes may have their own folders. Non-Apple apps like NetNewsWire, Montage, Final Draft, Scrivener etc, will keep all their stuff in ~/Library/Application Support. The truly paranoid might want to back up their preference files as well. I know I do. These are in ~/Library/Prefences.
For safety's sake, back up the entire Library folder, it's probably only a few hundred megs."
Jason Sutton added:
"Backing up Macs is impossibly easy. Buy an external hard drive and use Time Machine. It's built in to OS X. The best back-ups are the ones you don't have to think about. Brilliant application."
Thank you Matt and Lee and Jason!
Don't delay, do it today. It's Back Up Your Data Day, hooray!