When it comes to preserving your data, there's no such thing as overkill. Your safest bet is actually to employ multiple methods. Fortunately, most of them are cheap—or free.
Start by leveraging the other computers in your house. Microsoft's free Windows Live Sync tool will sync selected folders on your system, automatically or on-demand, with any other computer(s) you own. Next, give that same data a safe haven online. Backup services like Carbonite and MozyHome provide secure, unlimited storage space for around $55 per year. Just choose the data you want to protect, and get on with your life; the software works in the background to continually keep your backup version up to date.
Finally, you should invest in an external hard drive that's at least as large as the drive inside your PC. (We've seen one-terabyte models for less than $100.) Then pair it with a backup utility like Macrium Reflect Free Edition, which will make a full-system backup that you can restore in the event of a meltdown. You can schedule the program to run at regular times you designate or, if you're constantly updating your data, you can even run it manually anytime.
Dvds are cheap, most people could fit all of their valued documents and photos on just a few discs, which can be physically stored, as opposed to assuming all of your backup systems are crash-proof. Discs can also be rewritten as if they were a usb drive, however dvds lack an easy live sync tool that periodically backs up your documents.
I have had more home-burned DVD's go bad in storage than I have had hard drives go bad in storage. In addition, a mirror image of your current hard drive stored on another hard drive can be swapped out within minutes in the event your current hard drive fails, which it will, and usually at a very inconvenient time. People who travel & heavily rely on their laptops should carry a spare hard drive for this reason.
Dropbox is another useful online service which provides backing up, storing, synchronizing, and file sharing. The first 2 GB of files are free.
32 GB memory stick?
I back up to hard drives, and the occasional CD/DVD.
I cannot imagine backing up anything that I considered private to a web service.
I limit my backups to stuff that I care about although I still copy more than I probably should.
Online backups are great, but if you have trust issues there you can always go back to the basics with an off-site storage arrangement.
Back your stuff up to whatever media you like and get it out of your house. Any server admin worth their paycheck has an offsite location to store data.
If your USB drive, CD/DVD or external hard drive are tucked away inside a Sams-Club fire safe you'll still need to find it in the ashes or hope that some nosy neighbor didnt run off with it when you werent looking.
Dont trust your friends or family? Me either. Local banks usually have VERY good deals on safety deposit boxes.
Like the article said...there's no such thing as overkill with your data backup.
I find that for most people I speak with, the data they care to preserve is fairly fluid, and changes often. That more or less excludes any non-automated backup system for many of us. There's no point backing everything up to CDs or DVDs or USB drives and taking them off site once a week if some of your data changes 2 or 3 times a week. You'll still lose data. And keeping backups on site only solves the problem of hard drive failure, but doesn't address issues with disasters or theft. So for me and many people I know, automated off site backup is the only way to really protect data fully.
As for people with trust issues... companies like Carbonite (mentioned in the story) use encryption on your files, and that encryption protects your files from the company as well. Carbonite, for example, encrypts your files with 448-bit Blowfish encryption (which as far as I know has never been cracked) before the file ever leaves your computer, so that it can't be hacked and so that not even Carbonite can see your data. To be honest, if someone wanted my data, it would be much easier to break into my house or office and get it than it would be to steal it from a place like Carbonite.
For $4-$5 a month, these online services make backups easy enough and and safe enough that I can actually be fully confident that ALL my data is safe all the time. That is something I was never able to feel before I had these services.
RAID is great for protecting against hardward failures. But think about what happens when your computer case (or the entire building for that matter) catches fire. There goes your entire backup system.
To start with "safe" and "cheap" quite often do NOT go together... I mean are you buying the cheapest car or the cheapest parachute because you want to be safe? Probably not. So "you get what you pay for" when it comes to security and safety of your data as well. I personally believe that two copies of everything important is the way to go, one copy on CD/DVD/USB drive and one copy on SwissDisk. Sensitive and/or personal data that you need to access anytime or keep in sync is hard to backup onto a DVD and even a USB drive can easily get lost. As a fan of SwissDisk it is end-to-end encrypted and you can securely access your data from any device that has an internet browser, anywhere in the world where you have an internet connection. Lots of options for webDAV apps and clients that allow you to backup and sync data. BitKinex, GoodSync, OmniFocus for iPhone, padersyncDAV for Droid. The bottom line is what's your goal? cheap? privacy? easy? security? big storage space? There is never one answer for everyone.
Recently I find functional software which can fix all these problems just with one click: tuneup360, maybe you guys could have a try.