The Importance of a Back Up Plan
All too often I have clients who deal with catastrophic hardware or software issues that require a complete re-installation of their operating system. And at least half of the time, these clients have never backed up their computers. This issue is not relegated to the PC, it happens with smartphones and tablets too. Any device that holds important data that you wouldn't want to lose requires a solid back up plan.
So what makes up a solid back up plan? Use the "321" method.
Always have your data in 3 different places. It's original saved location on your computer is one. An external hard drive connected to your computer would be two. Stored on a cloud storage service like Dropbox or Google Drive would make three. This means that if one copy ever gets deleted or lost, you can access it in at least two other places.
Keep your most important data in 2 different formats. The first would be your hard drive in your computer. But hard drives are vulnerable to mechanical failure, so keeping the data on a different format makes it less susceptible to those kinds of issues. I would recommend using a USB flash drive. It does not have any moving pieces like a hard drive and therefore is less prone to physical failure due to dropping or moving. For extra protection, you can opt to keep that flash drive in a fire proof safe with other important things, in the event of a fire or other natural disaster.
Finally, keep 1 copy of your data offsite. The best method is to use is a cloud storage service. DropBox and Google Drive are two popular options but only allow you to sync and back up data placed in their respective folders. I would recommend an automatic complete computer back up using a service like Backblaze. They offer affordable solutions with unlimited back up and no file size limit.