The first option is if your computer is equipped with a CD /DVD burner to burn your files each month. You can pick specific files or backup your whole hard drive as long as you are making a back up. It would use less space/discs to backup just your documents. The exception to this rule would be if you don't have the original Windows install discs. In this case the first time you make a back up you should probably back up the whole hard drive using the BACKUP and RESTORE center in the CONTROL PANEL.
Your second option is to sign up for a virtual directory out on the internet and back up all your files there. A virtual directory is basically like having a hard drive out on the internet where you can put any files you desire.
CAUTION: having your files and records stored on the internet makes them more accessible to hackers and thieves. Not a big deal for picture and music files and maybe letters, but not necessarily the best place for financial records.
Third option is a flash drive or a portable USB hard drive. This requires a little investment money wise. A Flash drive, if it is big enough, can hold almost all your important files especially if you use a compression program like WinZip or WinRAR. With a portable USB hard drive, you can back up your entire hard drive, and still have room to make monthly backups of new files for a couple months. Use a compression program and it may last a year or more before having to delete some information.
Your fourth option is to have a secondary hard drive installed in your PC. Use it strictly for backing up important files. Though not as easily accessible as a portable drive (which you can plug into any computer and access) it keeps your files safe, and you can copy modified files to this hard drive at any time to make sure you have current back ups.
I should also mention with Vista and possibly Windows 7 you have an accessory built into the operating system that backs up your windows files, and possibly your personal files as well. It is called System Restore. I haven't messed with it much but it appears to make a copy of your hard drive. The only problem is it makes this copy ON the hard drive. If your system gets corrupted, it may save you but if your hard drive dies, it is all gone.
You may have other options, but off the cuff this is all I can think of. Be advised if you do keep sensitive financial documents on your computer, get a firewall program to help protect them from people on the other side of the internet.
By Suntydt from Tazewell, TN
I have been with out my computer for two and 1/2 weeks due to the hard drive crashing. It is amazing how much I depend on my computer.
Our computer is a desktop, which we have had less then a year. Something caused it to crash and we did not have a external hard drive installed.
We picked up our computer last night with a repair bill of close to $300.00. In that bill was a charge to try to recover data from the crashed system. Some was recovered, but alas we lost a large quantity of stored information.
This has been a expensive lesson! Hopefully you can learn from our mistake. Spend the extra money and get yourself the external hard drive to protect your files, pictures, etc.
By Bobbie from Rockwall, TX
Backing up your files is not the only thing you need to remember. You need to backup your favorites, and your folders in email. When your computer is wiped out, the folders in email and favorites are gone unless you save them.
By gbk from South Georgia
By Marie from North Texas