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The classic way of making backups is the use of tape drives (so-called streamers). Due to the fact that the tape has to be forwarded or rewound to the correct position, data access is extremely slow. Common 3.5" disks can only host 1.44 MB, disqualifying themselves for backups.
One very popular alternative are CD writers and re-writers. At less than $ 1 per CD-R you can make cheap and fast backups. Data is particularly safe on CD-R media, as you cannot delete it after recording. Of course you can still lose your data if the disc gets damaged physically - as with all other media as well. Yamaha just released their 16-speed writer (2.4 MB/s), 12-speed writers are widely available as well (Asus, AOpen, Plextor and others). CD-RWs are also well suited, but they cannot be written as fast as CD-R discs. In exchange you may erase and re-write data up to approximately 1000 times.
The use of removable disc drives such as Iomega's ZIP drive models is widespread. Drives and media are available at 100 or 250 MB. The internal versions for IDE or SCSI are fast and reliable. External versions for USB and SCSI are fine as well. The parallel port version does not perform very well due to the limitations of the slow interface. The bigger brother, the JAZ drive, hosts 1 or 2 GB, but is also clearly more expensive (external SCSI or USB, around $ 350).
There is also the LS120 drive which has never been really successful. The media holds 120 MB and are very slim. As an alternative, you can insert common 3.5" disks into this drive, making the floppy drive obsolete.
SyQuest offers their SyJet at 1.5 GB and the SparQ at a capacity of 1 GB. Both are fast and reliable, but it seems as if they are gradually disappearing.