Sometimes saying "I told you so" is satisfying - like when your kid gets scratched by the cat after you told her for the fifth time to stop poking the damn animal - but most of the time it comes with a sigh. I feel this way every time I hear a story about how Jenny lost her whole thesis a week before the deadline when her computer crashed or Johny lost a year's worth of data analysis when someone stole his laptop. We may not have flying cars yet, but damnit people, if you don't have an automated back-up of your computer that contains anything important to your work, you deserve what you get.
When I started my lab I was determined to make data back-up a central theme and something that did not require someone to manually make it happen. Afterall, who remembers to back up their data every couple of days? Instead, I set up every computer in the lab with some sort of hourly automated back-up system. The Mac time capsule is a great way to do this for everyday computers. It updates any changed folders and files every hour and builds an archive of snapshots that get progressively spaced out in time as they go further back. For instance, you'll have hourly back-ups for the past week, daily for a few months further back and then weekly and monthly.
In cases where we have workhorse computers, we've set up dedicated external drives that back up hourly in the same way that the time capsules do. Since we don't want to depend completely on local data storage (you can back-up ten different ways, but if it is all in one location a fire will still leave you SOL), raw data and key analyses are regularly backed-up at an off site data storage cloud.
Whereas this might sound like a lot of work, the key is that nearly all of it is automated. My desktop is backing-up right now while my laptop is in the queue and I don't need to do anything. Additionally, the cost of the external and wireless drives is minimal compared to the cost of our data and the person time that goes into analyzing it.
Backing-up data and work is not something to be messed with. Do. It. Now.
*I've always thought about writing a small program that would beep like a truck backing-up every time the computer backed-up, but then I realize it would only be funny the first three times and then I would want to rip out my speakers.