I’m glad this post isn’t a “I wish I backed up my data before the fire, flood, pool incident…” Instead, it’s more of a best practice reminder because it’s something I frequently need to remind myself about so I don’t forget to do it. Back up data!
It’s probably enough to back up all computer data on a flash drive at least once a week, and that flash drive should be kept in a secure location. If you are so inclined, you might do it every night, especially if you are working on a major web development (or similar) project. In fact, if you are working on anything that would be difficult to start from scratch, it’s a good idea to back-up your drive as much as possible – just don’t keep your flash drive attached to your computer all the time.
Another best practice is to back it up at least once a month with a flash drive that is stored off site – like in a bank deposit box. If a fire or flood were to ever damage your computer, it’s possible that it will get your back up source if it’s not kept on site. You should take precautions, because at the very least, if you are audited, the IRS won’t be accepting of a data loss excuse for the reason you can’t produce your files.
Apple has a product called the “Time Capsule” which automatically backs up data while you are working, in a machine that is also your Wifi base. The Time Capsule, which can store one terabyte of data, is very expensive, but it does automate the process. The downside is that the Time Capsule is kept on site, so a fire or flood would also probably render the data useless.
However you back up your data, please choose to do it often and keep a back-up copy somewhere. Having a good backing up strategy will help prevent you from having to come up with an emergency data recovery strategy!