Back up your computer data. Right now. Go ahead — I’ll wait.
OK, now you can read and weep with me over this story. An Oklahoma University professor’s MacBook was stolen out of her car. It contained years of research on a cure for prostate cancer that, you guessed it, was NOT backed up. Apparently some of the research can never be retrieved and some will require at least two years to replicate.
People, it’s so EASY to save yourself a world of hurt, as I myself have learned the hard way. Keep your data in three places: original (desktop or laptop computer), local (external hard drive) and off-site (cloud or your mom’s house). Thus, if fire or flood or earthquake destroys your local location, the precious research or photos or music or document files can still be retrieved.
Below are some links to how to’s that range from virtually free to monthly fees. My own Mac-based system is a 500 GB external drive (pictured above, living at the back of my desk’s keyboard drawer) to which my computer backs up every night using the program Time Machine plus a monthly subscription to Carbonite.com, which family members also use for their computers. It already saved my DD’s bacon when her notebook computer was stolen at college. (By the way, encrypt your hard drive with TrueCrypt or at least use a password to wake it from sleep, but that’s another subject.) Carbonite transferred all her data seamlessly to the replacement computer in a few hours.