If asked "do you back up your files?" how many would answer "I copy them to an external dive now and then"?
This is all well and good until the worst happens and you realise your most recent important files are lost for good. The trouble with manually copying files across is you have to remember to do it and do so with new files and document updates, not many people get into the habit of doing this. It takes time out of your day and it's something you actively have to stay on top of, it's not an optimal back up solution. There are more and more threats to your files such as the malware CryptoLocker that will encrypt then hold your files to ransom, this malicious software will also do the same with any connected storage devices so bang goes your back ups.
The bests solution is to have your back ups done for you automatically, without you having to remember or even interact with it. There are many paid for solutions out there but the majority of people see these as an unnecessary cost and hence resort to the manual copying of files. There are many free solutions you can try that copy your files for you.
For Windows see this list of the best free back up software
Now these tools are great if you have a constantly connected external drive but that's not always the case and the problem with this is it won't protect your files in the event of flood or fire damage, for this you need offsite back up.
Again there are many paid for solutions when it comes to backing up to the cloud, many charge for the amount of storage you want, some offering free storage with the option of paying for more if you want it. DropBox offers 2GB of free storage, Google Drive offers 15GB of free storage (100GB if you buy a ChromeBook). These along with many other services will allow you to download software to your machine that will then automatically sync your files to your on-line storage. This however won't necessarily fully protect you from the likes of CryptoLocker if it then syncs the encrypted files but at least it's automatic and prevents from physical loss. This solution also allows you to access your important files anywhere and across all your devices, it also makes it easy to share files with other people if you so choose.
Probably the most valuable types of files are personal photos. With more and more of these being taken on smartphones there is an easy and convenient way of keeping these backed up by having them sent to the cloud as soon as they are taken. Apps such as DropBox and Google+ offer this functionality, by enabling this feature your photos will be backed up without you having to even think about it. Your pictures are then also accessible from anywhere and you can instantly share them with anyone on-line.
We can't stress enough how important Back Ups are. With so many free convenient solutions out there why not try some out to find the one that best fits your needs. Keep your most valuable files safe from data loss and don't kid yourself that you'll copy them onto a USB stick tomorrow.