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Backups / Disaster Recovery

by: Chris Bloomfield, DentalMate Developer

Have you ever called customer support with a problem, and had the voice on the other end of the phone ask, "when was your last backup?" As an experienced computer user, as well as developer, I know first hand the importance of a regular backup strategy. The sinking, desperate feeling that comes when you realize you need your backup, but don't have one is horrible. The purpose of this article is to help explain the importance of a regular backup process, and to describe how to setup a process to make sure you
never have to re-enter weeks or months of work.

You should already have a method for backing up your data to tape, flash drive, internet cloud backup, or external hard disk. The focus here will be to make sure you have a solid process in place for backing up your data. Review the following steps to be sure your process is a good one.

Make a backup every day

Most of the software available today, will let you schedule backups to occur at night when you are not using the system. You only have to remember to change the cartridge each day. Please remember all computers must exit DentalMate before making a backup. If one computer is running DentalMate, the data files will NOT be backed up!

DentalMate Backup Utility

Due to the large number of customers who have had backup failures, the DentalMate Backup Utility was created. Because this utility is part of DentalMate, the problem with other workstations having the application open while trying to make a backup is circumvented by testing for open files. The DentalMate backup is an excellent choice for daily backup processing. It creates a small compressed backup that will fit on most flash drives. The backup is verified against the real database at the time it is created. It is still recommended that a full disk backup be made of your computer on a regular basis.

Rotate Backup Media

Have a minimum of six backup cartridges. Each day, change the cartridge to the next one in sequence. If you only have one backup cartridge, and something happens to your data, but you don't find out about it for serveral days, the bad data has already been written to your only backup. You should also have a separate month end and year end backup cartridge.

Take backups offsite

Okay, so you make a daily backup and put it in a file in your office. Then one night someone breaks in and takes your computer, and backups; or your office burns down. It is important to take backups out of the office.

Test your backup

This is the most important part of the process. You may think that you are making good backups each day, only to later discover that you have been backing up the wrong drive, or the wrong files, or maybe that nothing is being backed up at all.

There are a wide variety of products on the market today for making backup copies of information stored on your computer. Dentalmate cannot possibly stay up to date on all of them. Please make it a point to find out how your backup software works. Contact your hardware vendor if you don't know how your backup software works. Take some time out to be sure that you are really protected against hardware, software, or human failure. It is not a question of whether or not you will need your backup, but when you will need your backup.