There is one constant with computers. They Crash. I support lots of computers and can tell you that one thing that is very very important is doing backups in one way or another for your computer and data. There are two kinds of software that you can look at for your backups. Software that will backup files and folders. and software that will create a disk image of your computer.
Backing up files and folders
There are several pices of software that will backup the files on your computer. Windows has backup software and there are many others including the one that I use which is called Sync Back. The most important thing when using software like this is to know what you want to backup. Ususally what you want is your desktop and profile and your My Documents folder. If you have lots of digital pictues then you will want to make sure that the location that your pictures are in is definitly being backed up.
Imaging your computer
Imaging your computer is a process where you backup your computer completly to another hard drive or disk (usually a hard drive nowadays). The software that is used for this is either Ghost or Acronis True Image although I am sure there are many more. The best way to do a disk image is that after you clean out your recycle bin and clean out your temporary internet files is that you run the software. Both software will ask you what drives you want to backup and where you want the data, it is nice here to have a portable hard drive so that you can put the disk image on something that you can keep away from the computer in a safe place. After you have done the backup you can usually shoose individual files to restore or restore everthing and replace what is on your drive (especially good if your drive crashes).
Between these two backup strategies I am a big fan of the disk image process and what I have done in the past is make an image of the computer right away when I set it up. A clean computer is very fast. I create the image and then do file backups to another computer. If my computer crashes I have just a couple of steps.
1. Restore the image to a new hard drive
2. Reinstall the software that I use
3. Copy back the files from my daily or weekly backup.
I hope that just a few people are helped by this info. I know that in the past I have seen a lot of people lose years of pictures or tax info or word and email documents and it is fairly low cost to avoid this completely.