Beaverlog Tips: Volume 9 - February 27, 2003

Welcome to the first issue of Beaverlog Tips. In addition to announcing program updates, we plan to bring you useful information on getting the most out of The THERAPIST. The topic for this issue is making backups.

Backing Up Your Data

Over the last couple of weeks we have encountered several customers who have had severe data loss from computer crashes or viruses. Unfortunately for them, they did not have good backups and lost significant data and spent many hours and dollars recovering or recreating what they could. What makes this even worse is that it is so easy to protect yourself by making regular backups. Consider the following points:

  • Your data is the most valuable part of your computer
  • Floppy disks are cheap
  • Taking a few minutes to make a backup can save you hours and hundreds or thousands of dollars

Backup Strategy

Most folks don't plan ahead on how to do backups and it is often only after disaster strikes that they give it any thought. Even those who make backups regularly sometimes make common mistakes. To help avoid these problems, you need a stragegy for making backups and you need to follow it. The following backup schedule is easy to do and lets you sleep easy in the knowledge that your data is safe. It uses a combination of Quick Backups and Offline Backups.

You will need four backup sets labeled 1 through 4. Each set can be one or more floppy disks, a Zip disk, a Super Disk, or a CD-R or CD-RW. If you are using a CD-R or CD-RW, you will need to format them using software that came with your computer or with the CD drive. Floppy disks should be new formatted disks or freshly reformatted.

  Daily Make a Quick Backup at the end of the day
  Weeks 1-4 Make an Offline Backup on the last work day of the week using the disks from backup set 1. Label the set with the backup date and store them in a safe place. Next week use the next numbered backup set. Cycle through the backup sets in order. As the amount of data you enter increases, you may need to add disks to your backup sets. Use new formatted disks for your next backup set 1.
  Week 5 Make an Offline Backup on the last work day of the week using a fresh set of disks. Label the set with the backup date and store them somewhere away from the office. You can take them home or put them in a safety deposit box. Don't keep them at your office. If you have a fire, you will lose everything.

Quick Backups

Quick Backups store a copy of your data in a different location of your hard disk. That's why they are fast. That's also why they will be lost if your hard disk crashes or if you have to reformat it. The above backup strategy trusts quick backups enough for the daily backups but not enough to rely in it for the long term. You can make a quick backup by clicking on the lightning bolt icon on The THERAPIST's tool bar.

Offline Backups

It is important to have backup copies of your data in multiple physical locations. That is why we use Offline Backups. Making an Offline Backup takes longer than a Quick Backup. If you have a large practice or a lot of data it can take several floppy disks at about a minute per disk. Zip Disks or Super Disks are faster and only require one disk even for very large practices. CD-R and CD-RW also hold a lot of data but the speed depends on your hardware. You can make an Offline Backup by clicking on the floppy disk icon on The THERAPIST's tool bar.

A note about floppy disks. It is important to format your floppy disks periodically. For maximum peace of mind, format each disk in backup set before making your weekly backup. While this is not technically necessary, the purpose of making backups is to be safe and it makes sense to do whatever you can to make sure your backups are readable should you ever need to restore the data from them. Formatting is easy. From My Computer, right click on a disk in drive A: and choose Format. DO NOT choose quick format and don't indicate that you want to make a system or startup disk. Those selections just add files and formatting that you don't need and don't want.

Summary

Making regular backups using a backup strategy as outlined above will provide maximum data protection with minimum effort.