For the first 5 years of my teaching career I would save every file I collected or created onto a flash drive. I had to occassionally upgrade to a larger flash drive each year as I created more and more files. I backed these files up to my home computer every so often, but only when I would think of it. I knew I should back it up more because this flash drive was my lifeline, it contained every file that I would need to teach. I was also that teacher who would run their copies first thing in the morning since I got there so early. All of this foreshadows a very bad morning where I got to school and my flash drive broke overnight and now I had no files for class. I had not backed up over the last month and I definitely did not have the files for that day. I had to scramble to get things ready and I made a decision that day that this would not happen again.
Enter the cloud and at that time, dropbox.com. I used dropbox to backup my files so that they would be on my computer and every other computer that I set it up with. These files were also available online so that I could access them from any device, including my phone. I could edit on one computer and have these files changed on every other computer. The only issue would be if the internet was down at the school and I had changed the files on my home computer so they had not changed on my work computer yet. That almost never happened so this was still a much better way. This also meant that it was much easier for me to share files, something that I am always open to doing. I have always copied all of my files to share with each person that has replaced me when I left a school.
Today, we have so many options on how to back things up to the cloud that you really can pick whichever one that fits you best. I still have some files on my dropbox.com account but the free version is very limited in size so I have to be selective. My Google Drive account is now my main backup account as I have much more room and you can purchase more storage for very little money. You can now get 1 Tb of data (https://www.google.com/settings/storage) for only $10 a month, something that blows the other services out of the water.
One nice tool that is included with most of these services is the ability to have a folder on your computer that is backed up constantly to the cloud. You change a file in that folder and it is automatically backed up online. This also means that you can backup non-Google files in your Drive and have them accessible from other computers. You may not be able to change these files online but if you change them on a computer, they will be backed up online for use on other devices. I used my Drive to store video files so students could download them. I have created whole folders of files that were shared out with students and these files were able to be used without changing my own copy.
Backing up to the cloud is also something you can do with those files that you are afraid of losing, like pictures of your family. My son is 3.5 years old and I can not imagine not having those pictures showing his life up to this point. We have taken so many pictures since he was born and I want to make sure we always have those no matter what happens to our main computer. All of our pictures are now backed up online and I am paying very little each month to back those up, yet I feel much better than I would if they were only in one place. By backing up files in multiple locations automatically, it makes it much easier to continue working even if there is an issue with your computer. You should be able to work no matter what device you have and should be able to survive a hard drive crash or other hardware issue.
This is a simple way that we can use technology to make our lives better. It is a much nicer feeling knowing your files are not dependent on one device that may fail or that may not be accessible at that time. You should not have to scramble because your computer suddenly stopped working, you should be able to go to any device to access your files and be ready to go. This is something that technology can allow us to do and we should be doing it, we should not be relying on the methods we used when we only had physical files or tools.
Go to this page (https://donovanscience.com/2013/08/19/google-drive-on-your-computer/) to see how to use Google Drive to backup your files on your computer with your Drive.