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Backup Considerations

Eric Updated by Eric

Data backup is insurance against loss. There is short-term loss where the goal is to recover immediately from a computer crash, perhaps caused by a power failure. There is also long-term loss, where there is need to recover data accidentally deleted some time ago, the loss of which has just been discovered. And there is sometimes a need to reproduce hard copy of forms from some previous year.

Short term backup is the first type to consider. This is what is needed if a database file or folder is damaged. A major consideration for backup is the environment. How many computers are included? Is there a network? What other backup procedures are in use?

CFS programs can be configured to back up the data on program exit (if there has been a data change).

CFS programs are able to write the backup to various media. The single user version and the network version of the program can write a backup to:

  • Any hard drive on the local computer
  • Any mapped network drive
  • Removable storage such as a USB thumb drive

A backup folder may be copied to a CD-R or DVD-R or backed up to a folder on the hard drive. Then use the appropriate writer program to copy that backup folder to the CD-R or DVD-R.

Automatic Backup Software

New on the market are programs and products which can back up files on your system in real time.

These programs run in the background and sense when you have changed a file. The file is then copied to the backup medium which might be an internal or external hard drive or leased space on the internet.

The real time backup program may claim to sleep while you are working and accomplish the backup when you are idle. Our experience has been that these programs may cause a performance drain on your system, and may even cause some programs to fail. The CFS Payroll System cannot tolerate the interference from some of these programs. If you implement such a system (Carbonite, for example) you might need to configure it so that the Payroll System database folder is excluded from the real time backup. Create a folder away from CFSLIB which is included in the realtime backup and then configure the Payroll System to store its automatic backup in that folder. Or turn off the real time backup facility while entering payroll data.

Setting Up Automatic Backup

The CFS Toolbox programs can be configured to back up the database on program exit if any changes have been made.

  1. Click on the Utilities menu. Select Backup Data or Backup Selected Clients.
  2. In the Backup dialog box, under "Backup drive and directory," select the appropriate drive letter.
  3. The other box is the Directory box. Use that box, and the create folder button if needed, to develop a path to where you want to save the backup data.
  4. When the path is set, click the "NEXT" button.
  5. In the next dialog box, click the "Select All" button, then the Finish button.
  6. Proceed with the backup.
  7. When the backup is complete, the program offers to make this the backup directory for AUTOMATIC BACKUPS. Click the "Yes" button.
  8. When the backup is complete, click on the Configuration menu.
  9. In the Configuration dialog, make sure the “Automatically Backup…” checkbox in the bottom left corner is checked. Save settings and close.

Back Up To Optical Media (CD-R or DVD-R)

Note: there are special cases when it is possible to back up directly to a specially prepared CD-RW device. However, in general, the best way to copy data from the computer to CD or DVD is to use the CD writing software which came either with the operating system or with the CD Writer device.

To back up to a CD, first do a manual backup (Utilities - Backup) to a folder to which you have given a descriptive name, such as "CFS PR2012 backup 20120915". Then use the facilities of the operating system or the CD writer software to copy that folder to a CD. See the "Detailed Instructions and Procedures" topic "BACK UP to and RESTORE from CD or DVD".

Most likely, you have other software with requirements of data backup. It would make sense to create one folder, perhaps called BACKTOCD, and then back up the CFS data and other data into appropriate folders in that folder. That folder can then be used to "copy" or "send to" the CD image.

It’s a good idea to schedule a backup once per week and keep all backup CDs. CDs are not guaranteed to last forever and they can be subject to accidental physical damage. If you find that a backup CD is bad, you can retore from the previous CD.

Configuration: Single Computer, No Network

For a single computer configuration, for short term insurance, the preferred backup is to a device other than where the CFS data resides. For example, set the automatic backup to back the data up to a different hard drive in the computer, or to any removable medium. If the only available medium is the C: drive, then the backup folder under the program folder is as good a place as any - at least we can find it if necessary.

For long term insurance, the best medium is probably CD-R. Do a backup to a new folder with an appropriately descriptive name, and then take the steps to copy that folder to a CD.

The second best long term insurance is to back up to any of the removable storage media, using a different (descriptive) folder name each time a backup is made. Do not over-write a previous folder.

Next month you may want to go back and look at data as it existed in the middle of last year.

Configuration: Multiple Computers, Network Available, Single User License

For this configuration, the preferred short term insurance is to back up the data across the network to a different computer. If the CFS program is installed on multiple computers, each should have automatic backup set to store the backup on a folder different from the other workstations. The folder name for each backup should include the name of the computer being backed up.

If there are only two computers, and the CFS program is installed on each, the best short term backup method is to set each of the computers to automatically back up to a backup folder on the other computer. Thus, if either computer should suffer a total meltdown, the other computer will have all the data.

For long term insurance, the best medium is probably CD-R. Create a folder called BACKTOCD at a location accessible to every computer. From each machine, do a backup to a folder under BACKTOCD, with a name indicating the machine being backed up. Then take the steps to write the BACKTOCD folder to a CD.

The second best long term insurance is to back up to any of the removable storage media, using a different (descriptive) folder name each time a backup is made. Do not over-write a previous folder.

Next month you may want to go back and look at data as it existed in the middle of last year.

Configuration: Network License

For a network license configuration, it is assumed that there is one database being used from multiple workstations. That database may be on one of the workstations, or it might be on a stand-alone server.

If there is one database, then one backup folder may be used by all users. Note that each user in the "user list" corresponds to a configuration file, and that the configuration file contains things like path to the database, path to the automatic backup folder, checkmark for automatically back up on exit, check for updates on program start, and the rest of the items in the Configuration dialog box. Each user configuration must point to the backup folder.

The preferred short term insurance backup strategy is to use automatic backup to a folder which is on a computer or server different from the machine supporting the database. For example, if the database is on server AAA, the best place for the backup is on server BBB. If the database is on a computer called BOSS, then the backup should be on a computer called WORKER.

Long term insurance strategies vary depending on the environment - especially the general backup policy. If there are some hard drives in the installation which are being backed up to tape, DVD, removable hard drive, or other media then either the live database or the backup folder should be on that hard drive. Note, however, that if the backup is to removable storage which is recycled, you should also make a copy on permanent media, such as a CD. Otherwise, if the removable storage is overwritten, data for that time period will be lost.

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