Last week I accidentally clobbered three banks of purchased presets for my Vanguard virtual synthesizer. Luckily, I had backups and was able to get the presets back. Are you doing backups? If not you REALLY, REALLY need to start.
To help you get started I'll pass along a list of tools and methods I've come to count on:
Image Backups (OS, Programs, Data) / Off-site Storage
I use ACRONIS TRUE IMAGE HOME V11 (WIN 2000,XP,VISTA) software to make a disk mage backup of my entire hard disc to a Western Digital My Book Essential Edition 1 TB External Hard Drive. I store this in a bank vault. Every month or so, I get the drive from the vault and I update the backup set with a differential backup (backups up just what has changed since the original snapshot). I also place redundant data backups (see next section) on this drive as well then put it back in the vault. Why a vault - uh, break in, fire, flood, comet strike, alien invasion... I mean really you don't want lose your data right?
Data Backups (Data only, No OS, No Program Settings) / Local Storage / Backup on the Road
I store all my data, including my "Ableton" directory which contains all the songs I'm working under one folder - "My Documents". I backup up this folder every week or so, more often when I'm working on something I really don't want to lose. I use a great app called Goodsync and backup on to a Western Digital WDML3200TN 320GB My Passport Elite 2.0 USB Hard Drive - Titanium.This drive is small, light, and is bus powered so you can also take it anywhere. Once you create a backup with Goodsync, subsequent backups only copy files that have changed. This lets me have a handy backup in case I clobber a data file or want to revert back to an older version without having to go to the vault. Backing up only data - and data that has changed from the last backup means that it only takes a few minutes at most.
If you use more than one computer, your going to want to sync folders. Goodsync handles this nicely and works with flash drives (I highly recommend the Sandisc Cruzer ), or with the small drive I mentioned above. I have also done data sync between systems via the internet with tools like GoToMyPC.
There you have it. No go backup your data.
Revised Feb 13, 2009:
Step 3: Make sure you have data stored in at least two places and one of those places is off site - like a bank vault.