As I tried to help a friend following a virus attack on his laptop, I realized that it is not easy for a non-technical person, especially of my generation, to be self-dependent on the use of a computer. Many people simply do not know what to do, from repairing the damage to recovering the data. This is where the importance of a good data backup strategy becomes painfully obvious.
This is what I do to safeguard my data. I do not claim this is the best, but it suffices for my needs. I have an image backup of my C: drive, which means I can easily re-create my whole computing environment (including all customizations) if my hard drive crashes; which it will eventually. I regularly back up all 340GB of my data onto another drive, which I store externally. This is set to run automatically on a nightly basis using a freeware called Syncback. I also have copies of the most important records burned into DVD's, which I keep in successive iterations.
Here is where we ought to think about cloud computing. Google Docs is a very good example. In the days of client-server, dumb terminals run off the server. If one terminal breaks down, you simply go to another terminal. Cloud computing is just like that. Google, in this example, provides the software for you to run a word processor, a spreadsheet, or a presentation. All your files are stored in the "cloud", which is the server or servers Google maintains. Your computer is just the "dumb" terminal. The great thing about this is, there is no need for all the back ups I mentioned above. There is no need to manage your computer, such as regular registry cleanups, disk defrag, spyware removal, and constant software upgrades. Incidentally, the iPads and the Android tablets show promise of what it takes to move into cloud computing.