Tech Docs: Data Backup

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Backing Up Your Facil Data

Only the Facil data file has to be backed up. The location and name (usually FacilData##.mdb) of the data file in use is shown at the bottom of the Facil main menu. 

Generally, it's best to make your backup at the end of the day after work is done and no one is using Facil.  If you are using backup software that lets you schedule the backup, the middle of the night is the preferred time.

Making a copy of the file on the same hard disk with the original is not adequate protection; if the disk is damaged, you could lose both the original and the copy.

Any physical form of backup (CD, DVD, or a external hard drive) can be used and any backup software. When you first set up your backup software, hardware, and media, you must do a test backup and restore to make sure it works properly (and that you are using it properly!).  Nothing could be worse than to make backups religiously, only to find that they don't work the first time you actually need them. 

You should either store your backup copies off-site or make an additional backup each week and take it off-site. A disaster that destroys your server will likely also destroy the backups that are sitting next to it.

It is important to understand that a single copy from the previous day is really not enough of a backup. Unlike most documents, that are saved once and typically changed infrequently, a database like Facil is constantly changing. If you have a problem with data corruption, and you do not notice it right away, you may backup your corrupted file and, if you have only one night of backup, you then have no good copy at all!  You should maintain multiple backup copies extending back at least a month. A common way of doing this is to use a Day/Week/Month rotation. It works like this...

  • Create separate backups for each day Monday through Thursday. The next Monday, you reuse the previous Monday's backup medium; next Tuesday, reuse last Tuesday's; etc. This provides a backup for every day going back one week.

  • Create 5 separate backups for the First Friday of the month, Second Friday, through Fifth Friday. Every Friday use the appropriate backup; then the next month you will reuse it. This provides a weekly backup extending back one month.

  • If you want to be truly thorough, and to be able to retrieve backed up documents from long ago, make the First Friday backup a permanent retained copy. That means that each month, on the First Friday you backup to a fresh backup medium, and file that away permanently. Now you have a once a month backup that you keep forever.

  • This system is not hard to administer if you prepare your set of backup media in advance and label them. You'll have 4 daily disks (Mon - Thu), 4 weekly disks (2nd to 5th Friday), and 12 monthly disks (1st Fri Jan, 1st Fri Feb), for a year. Then it's just a matter of selecting the right disk for every night's backup. You can use the same daily backup disks for a year (52 times), and then replace them with fresh ones.

Backup Software

You may already have backup software, but if you do not, there is an excellent choice available at a very modest cost.  This program has just the features needed to do a reliable and simple job of backing up your data.  The program is called Argentum Backup.  You can download the program from the vendor's web site at http://www.argentuma.com/.  A 15 day free trial is available; you can purchase the full version of the program for only $39.  The features that make Argentum Backup a great choice for backing up Facil data are:

  • Simple to use - a brief tutorial is included and a wizard leads you through setting up your backup..  Define a backup "task" including the Facil data file.  Set a backup schedule for the middle of the night on each day of the week you are open.  Direct the backup files to any directory on your network.  The easiest thing to do is to backup to a hard drive - NOT the same one that is holding the Facil data.  Then, as soon as it's convenient, move the backups to your designated long term storage on a flash drive or DVD.

  • Fast and small.  The program will back up a 100 megabyte file in less than 30 seconds.  While the program must be left running in order to do the backup unattended, it takes very little resources.

  • "Stacking"  This feature allows the daily backups to accumulate; each is placed in a folder named by the date of the backup.  If you don't get a chance to move your backups to DVD/CD for a few days, the backups still won't be overwritten by the next one.

  • ZIP storage format.  All backups are stored in the ZIP compressed file format.  This means you don't need any special software to retrieve the backup; ZIP support is built in to Windows  You can easily open the backup file and select any file or files you wish to restore.  The backup of the Facil data file will typically compress to about one-third the size of the original Facil data file.

 

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