January 2007 (06)


We often come across customers who have inadequate backup facilities for their valuable data.
Yes, I know you're not one of them, but I suggest you read on anyway!
Here are a few rules for backups: check to see if you comply.

  • A backup is only as good as its ability to be restored. When did you last try to restore one of your backups?
  • A backup is only secure when it is away from your main system. Where do you store your backups? What would happen if there was a fire, flood or all your computers were stolen?
  • A backup that can be copied by anyone and delivered to your opposition is not secure. Who has access to your backups?
  • A backup will only succeed if there is enough disk space to hold the backup. Many people have backups that run automatically in the dead of night. Many systems do not warn you if a backup was unsuccessful. When did you last check yours? In any event EXACT and ALCHEMIST need at least 50 Mb of free space on the primary drive just to run properly. How much space is left on your drives?
  • A backup that is so old that restoring it puts your company back a week (or even a day) may put your company under so much strain that your efficiency is severely compromised. Also, how far back do your backups extend? A mistake that is detected today may have occurred a week ago and it may be important to be able to find out when it occured by looking at old backups.
    How often do you back up, and how many backups do you keep?
  • A copy of your files may not constitute a proper backup. In fact, a copy of your data file should not be used to transport data from one computer or one folder to another, eg from your server to a notebook and vice versa.
    The reason for this is that if you use Windows Explorer to copy a data file to another destination, the destination file may be corrupt.
    The Firebird Database Engine, upon which our programmes run, is known as a "multi-generational" database engine, which means that Firebird sometimes exists in a state where there are multiple copies of the same data in the same database file. Every 20, 000 transactions, a sweep automatically occurs to remove these old stubs of used data and clean the database.
    This sweep is forced when the file server is shut down or when a backup is made. If a copy of the data is made while the sweep is in operation the copied data may become corrupted

Whilst we do supply facilities within EXACT and PAYMASTER for backups, we do not accept responsibility for maintaining your backups.

An excellent programme called FIBS (Available from http://www.talatdogan.com/ ) may be used to automatically perform backups on Firebird. This programme can even send you an e-mail to warn if a backup has failed.

A couple of caveats about this programme:
Firstly, this is third-party software and we are not responsible for its installation or maintenance.
We will, however, quote you for installation and setup, upon written request, but you will have to maintain it yourself.
Secondly, I have noticed that if I remove a drive that I have been using as a mirror for one of my FIBS multiple backups, the backup schedule will fail even though other backups drives are present, and it will not warn me. Bear this in mind if you want to set up FIBS yourself.

Remember, your data is vitally important to the running of your business. Back it up properly!

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