You know you need to do it. I urge you to do it now. Don’t wait. (Well, you can wait to you finish the article to see good ways to do it.)
Backup your data!
If your hard drive failed right now, what would you do? I want your answer to be to calmly go to your collection of backups and be thankful that you do frequent backups. There are a variety of ways to do this. Most likely the simplest and cheapest method for you is to burn your data on to DVDs or onto an external hard drive.
However, this does not protect you from the most serious of tragedies where your residence is destroyed. As the past few years have shown, nowhere is completely immune from a devastating natural disaster that can destroy everything you own. For that reason, it is important to have some sort of “off-site backup.” One solution that I use is to have one of your backups at another location. I keep one at my parent’s house in another state, but since I can’t update that all the time, it is important to have another solution.
Another good answer is to store your data online. As this blog entry shows, there are a variety of free online places to store data, however, many of these places have public accessibility, so that may not be the best possible solution for you.
One tool that I have been using is a Firefox plug-in called GSpace. It also has a desktop version, but I find the Firefox plug-in is adequate to my needs. One drawback to this method is that you will get an e-mail message for each file you upload, but it is pretty easy to archive bulk amounts of mail. Now, your data is in a relatively-secure password protected area that you have pretty easy access to, if the worst should happen.
So be prepared and backup today!
UPDATE: I did forget to mention when using GSpace, you will need to do this process over a length of time. Gmail will freeze up if you receive too many messages in a short period of time. I tend to do it this one folder at a time, but you can experiment and see what works best for you.