I help a few people with their computers locally and I come across situations where there are no backups and action needs to be taken that could cause files to be lost - like a reinstall of the OS if the computer is really not well at all. Situations like these make a lot more work and yes, people do lose their files when things go badly wrong.
If you already backup your data then no need to read further. If not, I just wanted to offer some ideas and mention some free software that has helped me a lot. There are easy ways to safeguard your data without going too crazy and avoiding expensive solutions, so here are some ideas:
1. Really simple approach, just backup your important files manually onto an external drive every few days.
2. Get at least one more internal drive and backup onto that as well. Internal drives are faster and backups won't take long (maybe just 2-3 minutes) if you use software like FreeFileSynch. This will synchronise folders or entire drives. Combine this approach with external backups as well.
3. My approach goes slight further as follows, but cost is still minimal:
a) I keep just my OS (Windows) and installed programs on a 500GB NVME. A 250GB drive would also be large enough for this. My drive currently uses just over 100GB.
b) Documents and data are kept on an internal encrypted hard drive (I use Bitlocker)
c) Backups of drive b) are then kept on another identical encrypted drive using FreeFilSynch. This means I can backup very quickly as often as I wish (I go for daily)
d) I install games to another fast NVME, These are not backed up as they can be reinstalled if needed.
e) Next I have another 500GB drive where I keep images of my OS drive. For this I use Macrium Reflect - the free edition. It is scheduled to take an image every 3 days and I keep the last 10 backups with notes of software and driver changes in case I need to troubleshoot. Backups are taken while using Windows normally.
f) In addition, I use 2 more encrypted external drives. A 1TB NVME for important docs (daily backups) and finally a large hard drive for weekly backups of everything. This normally takes just 10 minutes to synchronise unless I've made big changes.
The benefit of this approach is that if my PC is stolen, then my data is encrypted and safe. Keeping the backup drives in less obvious locations also means that they are far less likely to be found and taken with the PC. If I get a major failure of my OS, I can restore it very easily (in under 10 minutes).
Of course, there are many other approaches, like external RAID storage and cloud storage services, but if using more than a few GB you will probably have to pay (note that you can get up to 25GB free nowadays). The thing I don't like about cloud storage is that the service could be down and uploads can be slow. If not using the cloud, then also think about a big disaster like a fire and maybe keep additional backups off site, but I'm not trying to describe a perfect solution here.
So in summary, I don't want to preach about the best way to do things. My approach certainly isn't perfect, but I'd like to encourage everyone to at least think about backups. You'll save yourself so much time and trouble by thinking about it before you need them.
If this thread encourages somebody to make some backups and improve data security, then all good! Please share your ideas here as well, I'm always open to better ideas. Have fun.
Z690 Hero, BIOS 2305, ME Firmware 126.96.36.1996, 7000X Case, RM1000x PSU, i9 12900K, ASUS TUF OC 3090TI, 2 x 16GB Corsair RAM @ 5200MHz, Windows 11 Pro 22H2, Corsair H150i Elite AIO, 4x Corsair RGB fans, 3x M.2 NVME drives, 2x SATA SSDs, 2x SATA HDs.