I would like to be able to back up everything on my music dedicated computer, including the programs. Do you advise me to use an external hardrive?
Also, does the external hard drive put store the programs as well as the files? Since I think my hard drive may be failing I would like to be able to buy a new one when needed and not have to re install all the programs and set-ups I have.
A lot of the external drives inlcude one-touch backups.
At work I just got a "Maxtor OneTouch III". The drive includes USB2, FW400 and FW800. The power supply is small. (That's important if you plan to put it in your laptop case.) The case is nice with a no-slip exterior. (Though it's a tad thicker than some.) It has a "hard" power switch, and a big button for backups on the front.
Maxtor drives aren't known for having the super best seek performance, but they're owned by Seagate now. Who knows which guts are inside. But if it's for backups, rather than samples, you don't necessarily need the last drop of seek speed.
There are cheaper solutions. FW800 bumps the price a bit.
I prefer to use an imaging product such as Symantec Ghost to backup my OS. I do this on a regular basis.
I also use Windows Backup to backup to an extra drive in my system a couple times a week. This captures the changed files from the last Ghost image and it also backs up my drive with my audio and video projects on it.