Praise for a tool I use often - WinRAR. It is both faster and more flexible than WinZip, and provides a superset of functionality. And it is only $30 (shareware, like WinZip).
I have two old PCs at my house which are setup as servers (running RedHat Linux); in fact, good old Critical Section is hosted on one of them. I run samba, which lets me use Windows networking to share directories on the servers with the Compaq laptop which is my "desktop" (running Windows XP Pro). Each night the servers back themselves up to each other. Once a week I use WinRAR to back up my laptop to the servers. The great things about using WinRAR in this way is that it only backs up changed files (new or modified since the last backup), and it incrementally appends to a set of archive files. The archive files are limited to 2GB in size (by RedHat Linux, and therefore by samba), but I actually have about 10GB of files to back up, so WinRAR simply spans them across six files. Works perfectly.
So - two points; back up often, you will thank yourself someday, and WinRAR is a great tool. Over and out.