Once your book is uploaded to Amazon or Smashwords or B&N, it's safe, pretty much for good. You've publicly declared that the content is your property and your responsibility, and it's joined some of the largest and most comprehensive distributed, "cloud based" backup solutions that the market has to offer. Your work will never be lost.
But if you're anything like me, your computer, your USB key(s) (thumb drives), phone, tablet and numerous notebooks are stuffed full of fragments of uncompleted stuff, previous drafts, shorts, character studies, notes and ideas for future work.
Notebooks (the paper variety) are at risk. You can spill coffee on them or drop them in a puddle. I've scanned my oldest ones but that is a long and laborious process, so I don't use handwritten notes for writing at all any more.
All that stuff on your various drives is at risk too. So how do you protect it?
I have had customers who've lost a year of accounting due to a hard drive failure. One of them had to spend about $ 1000 on data recovery after a server was "dropped" and both hard drives failed. Another was unable to recover anything...
Backup solutions are many. Your data is pretty safe from loss if you upload it all to your Google account. As to how secure it is... it depends on who you listen to. The bottom line is "belt and braces":
Store your data in more than one location.
- On your hard-drive and copied onto a couple of USB disks
- On your raid 0 hard drives and copied to an external drive
- Printed to DVDs and on your hard drive
For writers, I think the best solution is to use multiple USB keys (thumb drives). There is some great, free, simple software for synchronizing them. It analyses each drive and makes sure that the most recent version of any file is copied to every disk.
The beastie depicted is a NAS Hard Drive - like a mini network server. I install these for my business customers for about $550 installation included. It contains 2 hard drives (identical copies in case one fails), and it manages all the backup itself. Even a fancy piece of kit like this can fail, however. Especially if you drop it. So I encourage my customers to keep copies of important files both on the NAS drive and on their own workstation.
It is also worth bearing in mind that your home or office could be burgled. If you have something like the Iomega StorCenter (20cm x 14cm x 10cm), when you go away for a few days, leave it with a neighbor. If you have a thumb drive or two, take one with you and leave another with a neighbor. The more copies of your work you leave lying around, the less will get lost.
Unless you are an Aubrey Beardsley or an Emily Dickinson, you probably don't want your notes to be burned in the case of your death. If that is a concern, it's probably best to keep your notes and sketches in flammable form, because as soon as you connect your work to a network, it starts to get harder to destroy.