Every hard disk, whether mechanical or solid state, comes with a specification that includes a figure known as the MTBF. This stands for "mean time between failure". Simply put, it means that a hard disk failure is a matter of when, not if. So it's vital that you keep backups of all the important files on your computer.
Many people use a cloud-based service such as Dropbox or OneDrive. Another option is to back up to an external ftp server (ie, the machine that holds your web site), an external USB drive, or another drive in your computer. Just make sure you don't back up data on one drive to another folder on that same drive, as your backup will prove worthless in the case of a hardware failure.
Backup software takes many forms. The simplest way to back up files is just to use Windows Explorer to drag and drop one location to another. But once you have a substantial amount of data to keep backed up, it makes sense to use a program which is smart enough not to copy stuff which already exists in the backup location.
Autover is a really neat backup program. Once installed, start by creating one or more "Watchers". A watcher is a rule in which you specify a source and a destination location. Once done, any information in the source location automatically gets backed up to the destination. For example, create a Watcher where the source is your documents folder on your PC, and the destination is a folder on your external USB drive. Every time a file changes on your PC, the backup copy on your USB drive is updated. And you can choose to keep multiple versions of each backed-up file, hence the name of the program.
As well as backing up to disk folders, Autover can also back up to FTP servers. So if you have lots of space on your web server, Autover can use it. Or you could even use the program as a simple way of updating your web site. Just change the file within the copy on your PC, and the server gets updated instantly.
Autover can run as a portable program, active only when you choose it to be. Or you can opt to run it as a Windows service, which means it operates in the background continually. If you're using it to protect your valuable files, this is probably the option you should choose. But the less permanent option makes for an easy way to evaluate the software.
Autover is free, and is a 1.1 MB download from http://beanland.net.au/autover if you want to try it. The program is malware-free according to VirusTotal and Web of Trust. The source code is also available for download, for free, if you want to study how it works.
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