No matter what type of files and data they are, whether personal or business, media or document, losing your files can be devastating and may cause, in the case of business and work related files, loss of revenue or incur extra cost.
If you own a computer, and you keep your data on it, it is highly likely that at some point something will go wrong, with the potential to lose your stored data. It is also possible that the physical computer itself may be lost or stolen.
Here are some online and offline, hardware and software, ways of preventing permanent loss. It is unlikely that any one method will be sufficient in itself, and multiple ways of preventing data loss are always recommended. Online data storage in particular has certain disadvantages if you are storing a lot of data; most free services have limited amounts of space, costs can quickly climb and are typically monthly or yearly, no one off, and the actual data transfer itself can take a long time, even over a good internet connection. This is by no means a comprehensive list of all possible solutions; there are many similar products and services available.
CD-R and DVD-R
Both CD-R and DVD-R are WORM storage (Write Once Read Many). They are therefore any really suitable for finished files, as you won't be able to edit them afterwards. You can store works in progress, just realise that if you do change the work, it will need re-saving, probably onto another disc.
It is still possible for data to be lost after burning a disc, due to damage, accident, or even being left in direct sunlight. If you are storing data on discs, it's a good idea to burn at least two copies of every disc created.
Again, these are more expensive than hard drives, will usually store less data, and are more portable. They are typically bigger, cheaper and have a larger storage capacity than memory cards.
External Hard Drives
External Hard Drive Enclosure
A major use for these is data recovery, rather than loss prevention. Even if a computer breaks and is unbootable, the data stored on it may still be there. By removing the internal hard drive from the problem computer, installing it in an external enclosure, then attaching that to another computer, you are then able to access the hard drives contents, and can transfer required data from it, leaving you safe to do a reinstall or reformat of the affected hard drive after doing so.
Be sure to run a virus scan on any hard drive removed from a computer like this, as any problems may have been caused by a virus, and you don't want to transfer it to another computer.
Removable Hard Drives
Hard drives used in this manner do not have the protection from static and damage that those inside the machine, installed in an external enclosure, or built as an external drive have. You need to be careful both removing and storing drives used like this; there is no point backing up your data on a hard drive and removing it if you then destroy or damage the drive the data is stored on.
Fire Resistant Safes
Software and Online
Dropbox allows files to be backed up online, then the Dropbox software will then synchronise those files between any devices you have Dropbox installed on. This isn't limited to desktop or laptop computers, but also includes mobile devices, namely iPhone, iPad, Blackberry and Android.
Once Dropbox is installed on a device, files are automatically synced when the device is connected to the Internet. New files added to the Dropbox folder on the device will be uploaded to the online Dropbox, and any new or updated online files will be downloaded.
Dropbox also maintains prior versions of files, although these, as well as deleted files, don't count against your allowed quota.
You can also use Dropbox to share specified files and folders with others.
Windows Live Mesh
With Norton 360, you get 2GB of free online storage which can be used to store data. The files and folders you want backing up can be defined in Norton 360, and backups of that data will be done at defined times when the computer is connected to the internet.
As well as using it to backup data into the online storage, you can also backup data to your selected storage devices, such as external hard drives or flash drives.