What brand name is your computer?

Did your computer come with Recovery CD/DVD's which will allow you to reformat and reinstall the operating system and all the software as it came from the factory? (If not a Recovery disk, do you have a Recovery partition on the hard drive that will allow you to create Recovery CD's?)

Does your computer have a CD or DVD burner? Which one?

Since you are a beginner,...If you have all of the above items, then the only items you need to backup are those files, pictures, documents, etc. that you have created personally.. I recommend placing ALL your documents in the "My Documents" folder. As long as all your documents are there, simply create a data CD/DVD which contains the "My Documents" folder...

If a crash were to occur that damaged the hard drive, you could easily reinstall the operating system and all the program software using the Recovery disks.. Once that was done, copy the data from the "My documents" backup to your new 'My Documents' folder on the computer and you're ready to go.

Hope this helps.