I`m a PC Tech. And you would be my 10% top favorites customers!!
Yep! Nobody do care about their own data, until it`s too late. And I get the blame if I don`t do it for them. What a job!
Here is my recipe:
First rule: Like old fashioned English say: Do not put all eggs in the same basket...or something like that.
Translation: If you do your backup in the same computer...is sure that something will go wrong with its hardware before you notice (Murphy law for PC)
You need an External Mass Storage (translated: External Hard Disk, usb or Network type, or other pc on the same LAN). If your data is SO important, multiple-backup is still unexpensive.
Second rule: Manual Backup...? Forgedaboudit !! You betcha You`ll never do it.
Now. Automatic backup + Free = Goood...
But, always check once in a while (1 a week or as many time you consider) that backup is being doing properly.
I use this free edition software (freeware as author says) for many years:
You can use multicopy option (up to 99 copies, recomended only 6 for each day of the week, 1 is count as the actual copy and would be 7)
The good thing about multicopy, if a file got corrupted and you noticed 3 days after it started to happen, well, you still have some good copies of it.
It will autorecycling (means it will use only 7 last copies), so it will never fill up the hosting disk easily.
And always recycle is environment friendly. (...it`s a joke...)
You can use compressed (zip) backup (Highly recomended).
You cannot use multicopy with NON-compress copy.
This software keep 2 logs: 1 for backup done, 1 for errors backing up (like lost network, you forgot the pc powered off during vacation, etc)
Final note: If you have some data that its own software will be permanently on memory 24hs, you have to use this software from another pc through the network and pulling a copy of this data file from there.
Reason?: Because that running software will lock locally that file and it won`t allow no other software to use it.
Question are always free.. call at 3am for data loss, it`s not.