After selecting the type of backup system to use you need to create a folder structure for your files. Creating a good folder structure from the start makes it faster and easier to organize your data. Image if you were going to organize a mountain of papers into a file cabinet. You could start by labeling file folders and organizing in the file cabinet drawers. As you file papers you would then place the papers in the appropriate file folder.
With your digital data you can create folder structures and copy your digital files into the proper folder. If you would like a starting place review my suggestion for Digital Templates. Customize these templates for your needs. I have folder templates for annual data, personal data, and assets.
Your computer probably uses a variety of applications including a word process, spreadsheet, accounting software, etc. These applications normally store their data in a variety of places on your computer. With a proper backup and archival system you need to save the working data from all of your applications. To make this process easier you can create one working directory (or a limited number of directories) where your applications store their data. In my case I have a directory for personal data (letters, resume, etc.), photos, business (all my business notes), etc. When I backup my data I copy these directories to a new backup folder on the external hard drives.
Many applications by default store their working data deep in the system directories on your computer. These can be more difficult to find and you may forget to back them up. You may want to create a directory called c:/Records (for example) and have a folder for your accounting data, another for your working documents, and another for spreadsheets, etc. You can then copy this entire folder to your backup drive to protect your data.