Sorry to steal Gandalf's line there, but he does have a good point. Is your Precious safe? No, I don't mean your jewelry. Even if it can destroy the world. I mean your writing! Your writing, your ideas, your work-in-progress. How do you safeguard it?
This past summer my PC laptop suffered a horrible crash but the IT Gods at my workplace managed to recover my files. I was soooooo lucky. If that happened to you, would you be so lucky?
So here's a quick run-down of how you can save your writing. I am NOT a computer whiz, so by all means, if I've missed something, then please comment!
Pros: They're tiny, convenient, portable, and have no moving parts, so they don't break easily. And buying one that's at least 2GB is pretty cheap and easy.
Cons: They're easily misplaced or stolen, and it 's up to you to remember to use it to back up.
Burn to a disc/CD
Pros and Cons: similar to the USB, but more limitations on storage and size.
External Hard Drive
Pros: Separate from your computer, and you can save a huge amount of material. You can download software so this is done on an automatic schedule. On Mac, this is the Time Capsule/Time machine program.
Cons: Like the USB and CD, you're still susceptible to disasters of the catastrophic kind, like earthquakes, tsunamis, fires, theft, small children throwing stuff out the window... And hard drives can be pricey.
Pros: it's remote, and password protected.
Cons: You're limited to how many files you can save at a time. And it's user dependent. If you forget, you forget. I used this all the time for day to day saves, until I got lazy one day and then my PC crashed...
There are a slew of companies that offer online backup at these mega-gargantuan servers. Mozy, IDrive, Carbonite, SOS to name just a few. I am using IDrive, which isn't perfect, but it does the job every night when I'm asleep.
Pros:You can automatically update whenever on any kind of schedule (daily, weekly) without lifting a finger after you download the program. Some have free (but limited) storage programs.
Cons: Many of the downloads are slow going and can have complicated interfaces but they aren't supposed to interfere with the functionality of your computer. If the company goes bust, what happens to your data?
I've included a bunch of reviews on online backup companies for you to peruse.
PC Mag review
Computer World review
And more specifically for Mac there's a review here MacWorld Review which got a bit too complicated for me but there was a nice comparison chart that made things clearer.
So what do you use? Anything I missed?
Addendum circa 2011: Right now, I use Dropbox and iDrive. So far so good!