Backups are something that are generally ignored until they are needed. Having good backups will save you much time and headache and maybe even money. Having had backups fail before and having to pay thousands of dollars to recover the data is an experience that I hope to never have again.
Virtualbox (http://www.virtualbox.org/) is a virtualzation platform. I use it to test out new Linux distributions as well as to run some limited tests of new software for customers. It can run on Linux or windows hosts and can run quite a few guest operating systems. Installation in Ubuntu is a snap. First enable the VirtualBox repo if you don't want to use the open source edition. Edit your /etc/apt/sources.list. I added this to mine for gutsy:
deb http://www.virtualbox.org/debian gutsy non-free
FOSS bookkeeper wanted for busy solo practice law office running gnucash on ubuntu 7.04. VPN option available. Knowledge of gnucash template editing and other tweaks more helpful than bookeeping knowledge though both are needed. Compensation competitive for independent contractor or employee status or service trade. Contact Monte at mjewell[at]openmissoula.org.
After last night's Bozeman LUG meeting, I decided to take the plunge and install Ubuntu on my newly (more or less) built AMD dual core machine. It was really rather anti-climactic. It installed itself, everything worked, no problem. I sniffed around a little and got my printer hooked up through the network and the existing windows box. No command line, no profanity, no bloodshed. Ubuntu loaded the NVIDIA drivers with the usual disclaimer about proprietary software and put them to work. Who says that Linux isn't ready for the desktop? Now to learn about VMWare....