In computing, you have exactly two options: 1) Have current, working, tested backups or 2) don't care if your data is there tomorrow. There is no third option. Pretending that there is leads only to substantial cussing.
Unfortunately, people mostly either know this already, or won't be convinced of it until they learn from the school of bitter experience. So, this isn't a post to try to convince you to take backups; it's a post about how I do it, presented in the hopes that it'll make doing so easier and safer. (As with many of my computer-related posts, the actual implementation is somewhat specific to UNIX-like systems, though many of the general principles apply universally.)