The best backups are those that (1) back up files to a different hard drive and (2) make restoring files easy to understand. It's probably not well known that AutoCAD has the first feature: In the Options dialog box, click Files tab, change the path for Automatic Save File Location to another drive. On my computer, that's to an external 500GB portable drive.
As for the second feature, well, I don't use any backup softare, because I don't trust the restore process. In the panic that follows data loss, you don't have the luxury of learning now how to restore. Restores are complicated when (1) they rely on the backup software, which might not be working anymore, (2) they use incremental backups to save disk space, and (3) they might be compressed to further save space.
I don't use backup software; instead I used a backup strategy.
First, I triage my files:
- many files are not important, and so they are not backed up. These includes program files that can be reinstalled.
- files that are important, but change rarely, such as my 70GB collection of MP3s and 90GB of digital photos. I keep copies on two other external drives, plus a set of DVDs at my dad's place. These I back up every few months using TeraCopy's Older Only option (see below) as I have time.
- file that represent my current work, particularly InDesign book files. At the end of each day, I drag the folders I worked over to the external drive. On the external drive, I have seven folders named after the seven days of the week: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and so on. This allows me up to seven archival copies.
I use the TeraCopy software, which has a useful feature: it only copies changed files through its Older Only ption. This makes the file copying process faster, since there is no need to copy unchanged files. As a bonus, TerraCopy is much faster than Windows own Copy command. (It is worthwhile paying for the Pro version at http://www.codesector.com/teracopy.php, because then it'll also copy files locked by apps.)
- files that are crucial, such as my email address book, the spreadsheet that keeps track of my income, and so on. For these, I set up the Windows Briefcase utility to copy these files to my external hard drive. (Right-click Briefcase, and select Update All. Again, only changed files are copied.) Every so often, I upload the ZIP'ed Briefcase folder to an online location.
Should I need to restore files, it's a simple matter of locating them on the backup drives. I don't need to figure out how the proprietary restore software works; I don't need to wonder about incremental backups; I don't need to deal with compressed backups. Since they are on an external drive, the files can be read by any computer -- Linux, OS X, Windows.