So while it's not well known, at least outside of people I talk to often,
I'm a bit of a backup nut. In the past I've gotten a few of my jobs and consulting gigs simple because of my backup experience. I was having a chat with a friend the other day and it occurred to me that it wouldn't hurt to explain what I do for my personal data. Many people don't understand or don't care about personal backups.
The real problem with right now is that there is going to be a giant hole as far as history goes. It's easy to say that with things like archive.org and web sites and twitter and wikipedia and blogs and twitter and facebook and twitter and lots of other things, more data is saved than ever before. This is very true, but it's only a certain set of data. The REALLY cool data will vanish either when your computer disk crashes, or you die and your children throw out that Commodore 64.
I shall tell a clever story to express my point; When I was in college, I lived in a really crappy fraternity house. It was over 100 years old and something was always broken. I often was fixing holes in walls, adding insulation, or whatever else needed some work. I made the unfortunate mistake of showing competence, which meant I was always volunteered to do the actual work while everyone else sat around drinking beer and watching TV. Almost every time we opened up a wall, there was all sorts of goodies to be found. From old newspapers, to things lost in the holes 10 years ago, to tools I left in the last time I fixed the wall.
When history is based on physical things, pictures, paper, wood, records, it doesn't vanish, it lives on as long as the medium does. Let's now think about digital pictures. When your kids have to clean out the basement after shipping you off the old folks home someday, they won't find boxes of pictures and old records, they'll find a hard drive in a box that probably can't be read by the futuristic mind control computers our mechanical overlords force us to use. They probably also won't care enough to see what's on it. It's not like finding a box full of pictures. It's easy to open the box and look at the pictures. It's not easy to figure out what's on some random computer or hard drive.
So this brings up to the idea of backups.
The first thing you need to do is make sure you have your data organized. This is very important. Put pictures in a folder called "pictures", music in "music" (there is a pattern here), and so on. This isn't only for other people, it's for you too. In five years, you're not going to know what that "funny stuff" folder is for.
Have a central fileserver for your house. Even if it's just one of the desktop computers. Make sure your data all lives in the same place, this will be important for backing it up.
Once you have your data collected and sorted, there are a couple of options. I do both of these.
1) Use external hard drives (plural)
2) Use a remote storage service like Amazon S3
I've spent a fair amount of time looking into options for using a remote storage solution. None are ideal, I wrote my own called s4ync. It sucks too, but at least I know what's wrong with it.
The biggest advantage to using an online storage solution, is you don't need to go fetch a disk if something goes wrong. I also sleep better at night knowing that to lose my important data, my house, my bank, and amazon.com would have to all explode. The odds of me surviving such an event are fairly low. It's all about risk. I'm not a risky person, so less risk equals more sleep. Your mileage will vary.
Now the most important part of this: LEAVE INSTRUCTIONS. I don't mean some crappy note that says "This is the data backup" I mean write as much as you can about the data you have stored. I have rather detailed instructions for my family in the event of my untimely demise that goes as far as how to revoke my PGP keys. Be sure to either have a printed piece of paper or a file named something clever like README. The two likely scenarios here, are that your family is looking at this after you're gone, or they're cleaning up all the crap you've collected over the course of your life now that Open Source finally drove you to the looney bin.
In the event it's a situation where the grand-kids find the "box" of old pictures, you will have done the world a great service.