I don't know too many people that don't use a computer on a daily basis. The computer has become an important part of our everyday personal and professional lives. With that type of importance, it should be equally important that we take care in backing up the data on our computers. With viruses, coffe spills, and other hazards out there, it's a pretty good idea to have a backup of your computer's hard drive. Small external hard drives are a smart choice since they use little power and are relatively easy to store.
There are plenty of "cloud" computing resources for backing up our systems and so far they have proved to be pretty reliable. However, there will always be the possibility of these services failing and even with a backup service, a hard copy of your system should always be handy. There are plenty of external hard drive solutions provided by manufacturers like Iomega, HP, and Western Digital, but their prices may be a little steep for some people in this recession economy. To offset the cost, try making your own external hard drive. The process is surprisingly simple and affordable.
The most portable of external drives use a 2.5" SATA drive, the most common drive found in today's laptops. Stores like Newegg.com offer these drives at a fairly good price and there are always discounts available if you look. To start off with a good amount of memory for backup, a 250Gb or 320Gb hard drive is recommended although some users may need more or less. A 320Gb Fujitsu hard drive running at 5400 rpm costs $59.99 on Newegg.com. I chose an even cheaper route. I looked on eBay for a new or used drive and found a 250Gb Toshiba drive and won it for $15. A good deal can't be guaranteed on eBay, but it doesn't hurt to look.
The next piece of equipment you will need is an enclosure. Most online stores like CircuitCity.com and Newegg.com offer a 2.5" SATA enclosure for $9.99 with free shipping. These enclosures make building an external drive a snap. All of the electronics inside are pre-wired and ready to go. All you need to do is plug the hard drive in and close the enclosure. Again, although there are plenty of good enclosure deals at stores, I was able to find an enclosure for $7 on eBay. My total cost was $22 for a dependable backup drive.
It is also possible to make a backup drive with an old hard drive you may have around the house. There are connectors and enclosures for all types of hard drives. Just make sure you know what type of drive you have and locate the appropriate enclosure.
After you have your drive together, plug it in and use your computer's formatting utility, then set up how often and in what ways you want your computer to be backed up.
I was able to build my backup drive fairly cheap. Tell me about your experience and what kind of deals you found. I'm sure someone was able to do this for less money.