What started as a joke became no laughing matter. World Backup Day started by a few folks on Reddit several years ago. Their idea was to set a day to encourage people to backup their computers. "Don't be a Fool" is the tagline to the effort.

So why should you back up? And how?

Ransomware attacks are more common as ever. Visit a website or click a malicious link and a hacker can send code to your computer that encrypts every file. The only way to get those files back is to pay a ransom to the bad guys. Even then there's no guarantee you'll get access to your files again, (they are bad guys) and if you don't have the important things like photos, files, documents and music saved somewhere else, those are gone forever.

Other computer hard drives are lost to disasters like fire and floods and some just die after years of use. There are lots of reasons to back things up but around 30% of computer users have never done it.

Backing up an entire computer can be as difficult or as easy as you choose. Here are some of the best and easiest ways to backup all of the things on your computer that you never want to lose:

  • Online cloud storage. Carbonite and Mozy are two online backup companies that continuously back up computer data. If you change any file on the computer, whether that's adding a photo, downloading an email attachment or buying a song from iTunes, these services will note the change and automatically upload the file to a server. Should you lose your computer hard drives and all that data, you'll be able to download it all again on a new computer hard drive. This is the easiest way to keep things backed up and the cost starts out at around $6/month if paid annually.
  • External hard drives. These are good options for photos and videos you'd like to save and store for safe keeping. Plug the hard drive into a USB port on the computer and start dragging and dropping files from any hard drive to the new drive. It's very simple if you've ever moved some files around on your desktop or laptop but it isn't for everyone. It takes some time because YOU have to do it and drag each folder to the new drive. That's fine if you have things organized pretty well. Some external hard drives come with software to make the backup process easier but you will need to backup the drive frequently as you add more files to your computer drives. One tip: after you've finished backing up or saving everything, unplug the new drive from the computer and store it somewhere. Hard drives connected to the internet can be wiped out by a malware attack. If it's something you never ever ever want to lose, store it at someone else's house or in a safe.
  • USB thumb drives. These are excellent for saving photos because they're small and inexpensive and easy to take with you. Use them the same way you would with an external drive.
  • Online photo storage. Google Photos is free storage for photos and videos. If you have a Google account (gmail etc), you can store every photo and video you have on your computer safely in the cloud. I like Google Photos because it will upload photos without me doing anything other than clicking the "upload" button and telling it where the photos are stored on my computer. I also like Google Photos because it has facial recognition so when I want to see photos of my son, I just tap his face in a photo and it'll call up every photo that he's in. You can search for 'ocean', 'mountain', 'vacation', 'car', 'dog'...you get the picture. (see what I did there?)
  • Amazon Photo Library. If you're an Amazon Prime member you have unlimited photo storage included in your subscription. It works the same as Google Photos. The only downside I see is if you were to cancel your Prime Membership for some reason, you'd have to download everything again.
  • Both Google Photos and Amazon Library will upload photos taken with your phone automatically through apps.

World Backup Day may have started as a joke but losing your hard drives is not funny. It happens and if you haven't backed up, you'll wish you had done it this weekend. Some items to get you started are below: