Creating a back-up copy of your data is not enough to ensure against the loss of your most important research data. Minimize your chances of losing your data by following these guidelines.
Imagine a disaster. What if your office computer—which held the only copy of your data—was lost due to flood, fire or theft? What data would you need to ensure your research could continue with minimal interruption? This will help you identify what data sets you should back up.
Create your backup plan. You should be saving 3 copies of your data in geographically dispersed areas. The primary copy of your data will most likely reside on your computer. You should ensure that a second copy is locally available (like on an external harddrive) and the third copy is backed up in an external location such as an online storage service.
Select the storage mediums. Optical media, like CDs and DVDs, are not a wise back-up option since they have been shown to degrade over time, rendering the data on the disks unreadable. Consider local storage, campus storage, and online storage options. (See below for more information)
Be consistent. Sporadic backups may result in inadvertent data loss if a disaster were to occur. Be sure your files are backed up regularly to avoid major data loss.
To learn more, see NDSA Levels of Preservation.
Source: from Claremont Colleges