There are lots of steps between github and a local repo. For example, for small one-off projects I'll start with a local repo and then clone it on my other dev machine (each repo is a remote for the other, so I can easily sync changes back and forth). As it gets bigger, it can be pushed to the gitolite install I have on my media PC (which was just a random machine I had lying around that was always on; a Raspberry Pi would do just as well). Only when I want other people to look at it do I push to Github.
Even if you're just using local repos, git still helps you out; you only need to back up the .git directory; to restore, you put it back in place and run git checkout HEAD. No backing up of node_modules necessary!
git checkout HEAD
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