With graduate studies, having a secure place for your documents is necessary. I’ve had a couple of hard drives go out since I’ve been here, but I was fortunate that I never lost anything. There are a couple of programs that I’d recommend.
I’ve heard people talk about Dropbox in the past but I’ve had a little time over the weekend to try it out for the first time. Basically, you get 2GB of online storage, but the files also stay local on any machine you download the program to. That way, you’ve always got access through the internet or on any computer with the program (each computer has the same folder in the My Doc folder). So, there’s no more emailing files back and forth, and you’ve got an online backup for key documents.
For backing up the whole hard drive, we use Carbonite. It makes a full back up of the whole drive, and then it automatically recognises when a new file is added or if a file is changed and backs those up. It doesn’t do everything I’d like (it’s limited to one hard drive per subscription), but I never worry about pictures and work files being lost.