Backing up user data can be a chore, which is why many users don't develop or use an adequate backup strategy to protect their data. Everything you can to do simplify the task or remove it altogether from a user's responsibility can actually improve backup reliability.

One good way to simplify user backups is to use a backup program that will perform an unattended backup (i.e., one that works without any user intervention). For example, you might want all changed documents to back up every morning at 2:00 A.M.

One popular automatic backup program is Iomega Automatic Backup. This downloadable program backs up to local or network hard disk drives, as well as Zip, Jaz, NAS, and Iomega DVD. Automatic Backup supports multiple sets of folders, multiple file versions, and a fully customizable backup schedule. It also creates individual files in the backup process, which simplifies restore operations. (You simply drag the needed file from the backup location.)

Another backup tool to consider is EMC Dantz Retrospect. This product also supports disk-based backup, but it includes broad support for tape backup. You can even perform a disk-to-disk-to-tape backup, creating a fast backup on disk that is then copied to tape.

Whatever backup method you choose, remember to check the backup periodically to make sure it's working and that you can recover it as needed.