The Wisdom of Backups
Tags: Support   Technical   Tips   Software   Team  
26/07/2012 1:13 PM

By Nathan Tegel

I was reminded the other day about the website "The Tao of Backup". It's an informative narrative with important lessons on the art of data backups (though be warned, they are trying to sell a product at the end). I thought I'd apply the teachings of the Tao towards the Jim2 backups, with some of my own wisdom thrown in.

Do regular backups

It’s always good to start a list with something easy to build confidence, and here it is: Jim2 makes it super simple to do a regular backup thanks to the Scheduled Backup settings in the Jim2 Server Console. To set up a scheduled backup you need to know three things:

  • What
  • When
  • Where

What and when are easy: your Jim2 databases, every day. Where can be slightly more complex, but as a general rule you should have some backups easily accessible to your Jim2 server, and some off-site, that is away from the Jim2 Server’s physical location. Why? When it comes to restoring a Training database, for example, you want to be able to do it quickly and easily, so you want your backup databases close. On the opposite side, you want a copy far away in case of fire, flood or theft. So, you should have backups in at least two locations.

Make sure it's easy

If you need to fight off trolls and zombies in the battle to do a backup then you are not going to want to do it every day, because it's hard. Make sure that the daily backup routine is easy. This is the perfect time to speak to your IT support team and see what they can do about automating as much as possible. Some people like to walk out the door each night with a copy of the backup in their bag, but if it takes you four hours to achieve that goal every day then it's not going to happen every day.

TIP: If you need to do something daily, like copy the database to an external drive or a notebook, why not use the Jim2 Scheduler and set up a daily reminder.

Backups will get bigger over time, so start to plan for this

If last month your backup was 10MB in size, and this month it’s 20MB, it’s not hard to estimate how big it will be in a year’s time. If you are planning to store a year’s worth of backups you need to ask, "Do I have enough space to store them?"

This is where you need to ask yourself another question: “Do I need to have 365 days or more worth of backups?” The answer here is most likely no, but everyone is different so you need to decide exactly what you need to keep, and for how long. As a minimal suggestion I would recommend you keep databases from "End of Financial Years", important periods you may wish to do reporting on, prior to an End of Year Roll and at least the last few days.

Check your backups

There is no point in having a backup unless you know it works. Luckily, it’s easy to test a backup in Jim2 – restore it as your Training Database. So, here is a quick routine to do this check:

  • In your Jim2 Scheduler, add a reminder to Restore the Training Database. Set it to occur at the same time each month (eg. the first Wednesday of each month)
  • When the reminder pops up, restore the database from the previous day as the Training Database
  • Confirm the Training Database is good by logging in and checking the last sales in the Sales Register and the last job in a Job List
  • Done!

Have a plan in case it all goes wrong

Some people panic and worry when it comes to this step, but generally it's not as hard or as concerning as you might think. Imagine this: you are standing in front of what was your building where your Jim2 server was. I say was, because it is now gone. You have a copy of your Jim2 data (because you kept a backup copy off-site), so how do you access it? The answer for a lot of people will be, go home, call Happen and arrange a download of the software so you can put it on the computer you have at home. Restore the data. Start working. Now, go and write down this plan in case you need to use it.

Of course, different companies have different needs, so make sure your plan suits your needs (50 people might not fit in the kid’s room waiting for you to restore the backup).

What to do when it all goes wrong

The short answer is don't panic. The reason why you have gone through all these steps in regularly backing up, checking the backup, and having a recovery plan is so you can now focus on getting your data restored and get back into trading. This is when you need to work the plan.

A final thought:

If you have outsourced the hosting or maintenance of your Jim2 setup to a third party, such as an IT support or hosting provider, make sure they are doing backups for you. You might even want to get them to send you one regularly.

So there you go. If my backup wisdom hasn't helped please feel free to drop a line to support@happen.biz for more information.

About Nathan

Nathan is Product Manager of Happen Business, and is currently growing a lovely crop of celery.

Comments
Donley said:
10/01/2014 1:02:18 PM
Superb, what a websiite it is! Thhis webpage gives valuable factss to us,
keep it up.
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