There are many free online data storage systems. If you're happy with the privacy implications, it's not hard to run Google Drive, Dropbox and box.net on the same directory for some degree of resilience.
Backuping them over Dropbox/Box/Skydrive/* would have been useless, as he still has those .gdoc files anyway.
To actually get a backup, he would have saved the files as .doc/.pdf/any other classic format from Google Docs.
I'm not saying that backups are useless, mind you - Only that they wouldn't have helped in this specific case.
Google Drive gives you this fake file pointer that it wants you to think is a document, but then when you try to use it as such (backup and restore), you find out the files actually got deleted.
This is a case of shitty UI, plain and simple.