Pro photographer Craig Cowling, aka "Naughty James" (gee, kewl, eh?) suffered a computer failure last month, and lost seven years of work.
If he had only backed up even once a YEAR, he would have saved 80% of it!
Back up, dude.
My good friend, ace photog Laurie Jeffery AFIAP had a close call last year. He had finally bowed to my calls to back up to an external hard disk. Unfortunately in the middle of the procedure the external disk died. And I a highly unusual manner, it somehow managed to make the data disappear from his computer also! (I never heard of this happening before.) We live in the same town, and I had some hard disk salvage software, so he took the hard disk to my place. We worked and worked. In the end we had the hard disk practically in pieces on my floor, connected to my Mac by Firewire, and trying to make a connection. Laurie then unplugged and replugged the cable and said "try clicking now". I had already given up, but I humored him. Lo and behold, it connected!
I said to Laurie: "listen, before we unplug and you take it home, how about we back up all your work to my computer, just to make sure." So we did. It was several years of work, so it would take over an hour, and we went to lunch. When we came back, it was all copied to my hard drive, and we unplugged it. And that external hard disk was never heard from again alive. But we had the data, I burned it to DVDs for Laurie.
I guess the moral is: back up, at least once a month (once a week is better). And do it to more than one different disk. And have one of them in a different building.
And if you think about it, this is another great thing about digital. Photographer Petter Hegre lost 20 years of negatives in a fire two years ago. Try backing up negatives!