Yes, Mistakes Happen, so you need Backup!
And fires and thefts happen too.
Backup - You want protection from:
- Fire, theft, hard drive failure. So, what if somebody steals your
computer after you leave the office or home tonight? Or the harddrive won't start up
tomorrow? Or a fire wipes out your building?
- Virus infects your system, spoiling data at some point in the past. In
many accounting and database systems, you can save a record, then not look at it for a
- Somebody makes a boo boo. You (but this is usually me, not you!) do
something stupid (ok, maybe a bit poorly thought out) and recognize it almost immediately,
surely before the end of the day.
A backup solution should addresses these dangers by including these procedures:
- Backup all the data - that's the stuff you and I create, not
the programs themselves from Microsoft, Quicken, Apple.
- Put all of your data in a place like "My Documents", on a hard drive separate
from your operating system, and so forth. Use directories and folders to separate your
projects within that area.
- You don't want to save your files in with theirs. Quicken and Microsoft programs
sometimes have as the default save location, the directory where their programs are -
don't accept that location - save your data in the "My Documents" area, or a
subdirectory of that location.
- Make sure that you save periodically special files for each application. For Microsoft
Word, these are the templates, most importantly the normal.dot file.
- Don't backup the megabytes of programs from Microsoft, Quicken, etc.
This applies to small businesses and home users. Corporations will invest in faster backup
medium. If you need to restore, you will use the original CD's to reinstall the
- Backup frequently - daily, or, if you don't create much, at least often
enough so you won't loose too much if you haven't backed up for a week, a month or longer.
Remember, if you don't make changes in your data very often, it will be harder to remember
what you did change, so backup after making changes.
- Save those backups for a long time - at least one or two sets should be
at least a year old.
- Don't trust the backup system unless you have re-stored from the tape,
disks or cd-ROM both a complete set of all the saved files or a single file. At one client
site, it took a full day of their best technical person to restore one file. You can
configure the software to put the file back in the exact same place from where it was
backed up, or place it in a new area. Unless you are performing a full restore, you will
want to put it in a separate place - maybe on drive D, rather than C:, for instance.
- Move some of those backups off-site. One of my clients had their entire
computer system stolen on a Friday night, including the boxes of disks on the shelves
above the computers (!), but were saved because every day they shut down the
system at 4:30 pm, perform a complete system backup and the office manager sticks the tape
in her purse as she walks out the door.
- Make interim backups, much like Microsoft Word's
"Autorecover" option to make a hidden backup ever 10 minutes. Or, before I
perform an operation that affects a lot of data, I make a "hot" backup by
copying data to from the local hard drive to the server, or the other way. Then, I make my
- Backup before you start a major data modification procedure.
Accounting procedures mean we "close" a previous period such as a month,
quarter or year. To do this, we run all sorts of report, making sure the
money flow has been properly recorded and make adjusting entries and
adding explanatory notes. The we "close" by running a process to move
data from the current period into history and reset totals for the next
period. Even though we
want a clean snapshot of the system after the close, a backup should be
performed before starting the process to
protect your data from problems hardware or software failure during the closing operation..
- Save individual's data in a place that protects the data and any needed privacy.
Don't let individuals save only their local hard drives and not to the network
where there (presumably) is a system backup procedure in place. Or, invest in the
(expensive) technology to backup the individual workstations. Use password protection and
other system security features if privacy is a concern, but don't let these issues
override the organization's need to recover in case of theft and other disasters.
Oops! I'd better back this up...
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helpful, what was confusing and so forth.
If you are a client or a friend and I
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Craig Roberts, firstname.lastname@example.org or