Here's a good article, comprehensive but brief, on why and how to back up your electronic files.
Let me add a story about "why." I heard this one told in a church many years ago, when we were all still using floppy disks. The point of the story in the church was perseverance. You can draw some additional conclusions about backing up your stuff.
A woman worked hard to complete her Ph.D. dissertation. As do all dissertations, it involved several hundred pages of carefully edited and revised writing, and notes on probably several hundred resources she had tracked down, read, thought about, annotated, and used as research in her dissertation.
She had gotten through almost all the steps except the final printing. She had gotten a job, packed her belongings into a rental truck, gotten safely to a new city, starting a new job in a month or so. She had multiple copies of her dissertation on floppy disks, duplicates, in that truck.
Then the truck got broken into. Everything was stolen. Including the floppy disks.
Yes, she had to start all over again writing the dissertation. There went several years worth of work.
You may not have a dissertation at risk. If you lose all your stuff, though, you'll probably be really, really inconvenienced. Your resume, love letters, family pictures, research projects, papers from previous classes... gone?
Back up your stuff. Use several formats. I've got my stuff on my hard drive, on a USB stick, in the cloud, and on the university servers. Okay--I'm not perfect... it's not all a complete copy of everything everywhere. But at worst I'll lose a week's worth of work if two of these go down.
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