This is something I posted on my tumblr a few months ago, figured it would something important to put on my new full time blog. Hope this helps!
I must warn you. You must be at least a little crazy to successfully and fully back up your data. It goes beyond one external hardrive, or even two. Backing up is a lifestyle, and you just have to embrace it to survive the 21st century.
Step 1. Get an external hardrive that matches or is bigger than the size of your computer’s internal hardrive. This hardrive is for whatever program you may use to automatically back up your hardrive. There are tons of different programs you can download, but since I’m an unapologetic Apple fan, I use Time Machine. All I have to do is plug it in and let it do it’s thing. It makes switching computers easy, but will give you a false sense of security. If you rely only on a Time Machine backup and your external hardrive dies, it’s over. This is your first layer of data security.
Step 2. Buy a couple more external hardrives to put your most important digital items. You want your most important files to be saved in multiple places, because unfortunately, hardrives are not reliable. Not only are hardrives unreliable, but they are also not fireproof or waterproof. If your house or workspace floods or burns down, you will lose your hard disk arsenal. Spread the love, keep hardrives in safe places that aren’t your own house. Keep one at work, your mom’s house, your grandmother’s house, and/or a trustworthy friends house. You’ll be comforted knowing that your data is safe despite the elements.
Step 3. Invest in cloud storage. This is all getting a little expensive, and if your profession relies on your virtual files, it will quickly remove the padding from your wallet. Cloud storage is a controversial thing, because of the susceptibility to hackers and the mighty NSA. Again, this shouldn’t be your only line of defense, but it is convenient to be able to access your files on all of your devices. It also takes some of the weight off of your computer’s internal drive.
Step 4. Do not keep everything on your computer. I have a 500 GB hardrive on my laptop, and I constantly fill it up. There comes a point where you must let go and keep your laptop roomy and usable. You don’t want to be working on a project and have it suddenly freeze because there is too much data on the drive. Your laptop is your vessel that your work gets done in, and you must store the bulk of your files elsewhere. Keep the priority stuff on board, but if you’re not going to use something often, move it somewhere else.
Step 5. Care. It won’t get easier, so you have to just care enough to stay in a constant state of paranoia. Assume your backups will fail and compensate for them. Backup your computer every day. Stay on it. Always have a Plan B.