Backing Up

jvandy57

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There have been many discussions on this forum about backing up software and what you use to do so. Read this and take note!

We backup the retail system on to a tape drive. Lifesaver backs up every day when we close. We used to have a UPS that would shut the system down after the nightly back up was complete, It broke. Powers that be (Here after refered to as THE MONEY) would not let me replace the UPS. I started doing the tape backup Saturday mornings when I first get to the shop. Saturday a week ago I stopped the backup because a customer came in early and wanted their order. Tuesday the Harddrive crashed. Last good backup Jan 12, 2002. We have spent through this saturday re entering data for a year. I could have driven to Chicago and had Disk Doctors recover the files I needed for a Minimum of $495 or as much as $2000.
Now I ask again DO YOU BACKUP! How often and do you verify that the backup is good.
Thought I would share this stupidity with all, because this shouldn't have happened to me, I know way better. BTW THE MONEY will now let me replace the UPS, imagine that!
 

B. Newman

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I back up my QuickBooks every time it asks me, (something like every 3-4 times it's opened.) Since I don't have POS I "saved" my customer files, spreadsheet info and Acess onto a zip drive. If I do that every so often, is that basically the same thing as a "back up"? Isn't saving all my "important stuff" somewhere else the same thing?

Betty
 

JFeig

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My preferred method of backup is to use CD-RW's. I backup about 370 mb of data files. It takes about 25 minutes. The discs are dated on the covers as well as the disc titles (digital name - I.D.)

BTY, I take the discs home so that they are off site in case of a real disaster.
 

Mike Labbe

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I'm very sorry to hear of your loss. Did the hard drive stop spinning, or is the operating system just damaged? It might be possible to boot it in DOS mode to recover the files. If you need any help with recovery efforts,(physically or by phone) don't hesitate to call.

We use Lifesaver and do the daily closing backup to floppy disk (eventually to the zip drive, when the databases grow a bit - it's only 10 months young). We have a rotation of 14 disks, representing days of the week. With this we can go back two weeks if needed - and it has saved us twice already! Their backup does the data, but not the programs. It's a good idea to back that up also, outside of their process.

Every Saturday night, we do a FULL backup of the entire POS program directory, Quicken, and documents (letters, mailing lists, etc) via cable modem. (pcAnywhere file xfer from the office to the home computer)

Mike
 

Rick Bergeron - CPF

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Jerry,

I too, am sorry to hear of your loss.

Our rule regarding Quickbooks is that if an entry is made or edited, it is backed up to a zipdisk on the same day. Every 2-3 months, the backup is restored to a second computer and burned to CD-R for archive.

The POS database automatically gets copied to a second, smaller harddrive (whose sole purpose is data backup) every day as part of the automated startup. Once per month the backup harddrive is copied to CD and verified on a second computer. Since this a copy rather than backup, it has come in handy on several occasions to show exactly when changes were made to the database setup.

Kathleen learned first hand why I am such a stickler regarding backups. She quit backing up our personal Quicken file on every use a few years ago. One day there was a problem and I told her not to worry because the backup that she makes everyday would fix things in a jiffy. That was back in the floppy days when the procedure was to make 3 separate backups because I didnt trust the floppy. A few hours later she confessed to not backing up because 3 floppies took too long. I was just as calm and told her that she'd be the person to manually re-enter all the data since the last backup. Ever since, backups have not been a problem.... and no more preaching to the choir.
 

B. Newman

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Originally posted by Rick Bergeron - CPF:
Since this a copy rather than backup, it has come in handy on several occasions to show exactly when changes were made to the database setup.

What is the difference between a copy and a back up? As I stated, I saved info on a zip disc. I assume that this is a copy, right? Wasn't that an ok thing to do?

Betty
 

Ron Eggers

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Betty,

Data that is copied, using DOS or windows file management utilities or commands, is generally left in its original file format, uncompressed, and can be copied back again using the same or other utilities. That sounds like what you're doing.

Backup software can sometimes be more automated for routine, repetative tasks, may compress the files to save space and will often create a single "image" file (not to be confused with a picture) that can only be restored using the same backup/restore software.

If you are copying all your important data files to Zip disks, you should be just fine in the event of a hard drive disaster.
 

B. Newman

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Thanks Ron. I don't understand all I know about this stuff!

Betty

Uh, Ron... "Picture Framing God"?
 

Ron Eggers

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Oh, my . . .

Thanks for pointing that out, Betty. I hadn't noticed my new title. I expect that comes with a hefty raise.

Apparently our administrator has a sense of humor - in case there was any doubt.
 

Rick Bergeron - CPF

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Hi Betty,

Yep, what Ron said. Also, many times backups overwrite each other using the same name; so you only have the latest copy. That's what we do with Quickbooks. My POS routine actually creates a datafolder name that is the current year, date & time of day and then copies the data. The folder is just under 20Mb per backup.

Routinely using our backup disks to restore the data showed us that one time we had a faulty disks and the backups onhand were useless. Luckily, we caught it before the backups were needed. That was also why we started making 3 independent backups in the floppy days.
 

Lance E

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Our POS machines all backup over night, they all run on different OS so as no one virus is likely to effect them all. Backups are done in a rotation amoungst the network which then burns the LZS files to CD. There have been countless times that I have had to rely on backups for a variety of programs, I consider it as important as car keys.
 

jvandy57

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Mike,
It stopped spinning and started clicking. It was a cascade failure. I couldn't recover it myself, it was toasted, I don't have the equuipment. We've successfully reentered all work orders and Customer Info. I now backup to floppies too. and make sure the system gets a full backup once a week. I have all the software originals that the system had on it, plus a 60GB HD, Which of course the BIOS doesn't recognize and it isn't flashable. However, WD Data lifeguard 10.0 handled that.
 

MerpsMom

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I just backed up my accounting program data file only onto CD-RW. When I back up tonight, will today's work "overwrite" or replace the previous info on the disk? How do I know if it won't? The way it was explained to me was that the backup system looks at what it already has, says to itself "got that and that and that" then adds what it doesn't. But wouldn't this be true only from an actual backup procedure from within the program you're backing up? If you're only copying to a CD, wouldn't it keep adding the whole thing time and again? Where does one verify all this? Wish I were more checked out.

[ 01-27-2003, 02:51 PM: Message edited by: MerpsMom ]
 

Lance E

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MM, it sounds like you are using Explorer to do the copying with the cut and paste type thingy, this will work and give you a fairly reliable result (it is the way I did it until the software I have was made to do its own thing and it saved me a few times). The method you are using may be a bit slow if you are selecting all the files each time as they will replace the previous versions, if you are confident using the "search" or "find" features in Explorer you might find it usful to select only the files modified since the last backup and replace them.
Alternatively (if available) use the backup feature in Windows, if it does not support the Burn to CD part then burn it to the harddrive and copy the file onto the CD later.

[ 01-28-2003, 06:50 AM: Message edited by: Lance E ]
 

Mike Labbe

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MM,

Another option might be to consider CDR's instead of CDRW's. CDRs will burn faster, more reliably, and only cost about a nickle each or less. (theyre giving these things away all the time in any computer store flyer, after rebate) They can only be used once, but will give you a clearly identified/non confusing backup. You can use a sharpie marker to label them with the date, and bring them off-site for storage. (remember cdr/cdrw media is heat sensitive, so a fire would probably wipe them out.)

One concern if you're sending all backups to a single CDRW: what happens if the cdrw fails? These can only be re-written a finite number of times. Also, what happens if you realize a corruption problem 2 or 3 days later. You can only go back a single day if using a single disc. (or maybe you're rotating several?) With the CDRs you can hold on to them for a while, just in case.

Just some ideas to ponder. The important thing is to backup backup backup!
 

CharlesL

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A backup question from a total computer illiterate:

Originally posted by jvandy57:
However, WD Data lifeguard 10.0 handled that.
I'm sure that XP has some sort of selective backup, meaning I can select WHAT I want to burn to CD, but, if mine does, I can't find it!

Is what Jerry mentioned an actual backup program??
If not, what is a good one, not the most expensive, just a good backup program that will allow me to selectively backup certain directories?????
 

Mike Labbe

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Hi Charles,

Windows XP is great and has a scaled down version built in. (it's actually the Adaptec/Roxio product, I believe)

I extracted the following instructions from the Windows XP help screen, if you want more detail. (Start -> HELP/SUPPORT -> BURNING CDS)

Hopefully this will be helpful to get you started. Like anything else in XP, there are probably 6 ways to do the same thing....

Mike


To copy files and folders to a CD:
Insert a blank, writable CD into the CD recorder.
Open "My Computer."

Click C: and the files/folders you want to copy to the CD. To select more than one, hold down the CTRL key while you click the files you want.

Then, under File and Folder Tasks, click Copy this file, Copy this folder, or Copy the selected items.

In the Copy Items dialog box, click the CD recording drive, and then click Copy.

In My Computer, double-click the CD recording drive. Windows displays a temporary area where the files are held before they are copied to the CD. Verify that the files and folders that you intend to copy to the CD appear under Files Ready to be Written to the CD.

Under CD Writing Tasks, click Write these files to CD. Windows displays the CD Writing Wizard. Follow the instructions in the wizard.

Notes:
Do not copy more files to the CD than it will hold. Standard CDs hold up to 650 megabytes (MB). High-capacity CDs hold up to 850 MB.
After you copy files or folders to the CD, it is useful to view the CD to confirm that the files are copied.
PS: If your computer came with a cd burner, it probably came with a full cd burning program such as Roxio/Adaptect EASY CD or AHEAD NERO EXPRESS. If so, these are an easier "drag and drop" solution. Just drag the folders you want to backup from one side of your screen to the other, and click BURN CD.

[ 01-29-2003, 10:45 AM: Message edited by: RHODY ]
 

Framerguy

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Cathie,

I missed this thread somehow so am late getting in my 2&#162 worth in.

You asked whether your backups would overwrite the existing material on your backup system?? Is this correct? When you do a backup, you are correct, the program looks at the data log and says, "OK, this stuff is already here but that stuff isn't so we will put that stuff on here and update the backup log so I know that that stuff is now here." (Whew). That is called an incremental backup.

A full backup is when the program says "Well, some of this stuff is here and some isn't but we are going to just replace all of it and write a new backup log."

The Colorado backup system that I used to use also would do a "verify" to make sure that there weren't any corrupted files, missing data, or other little problems that would cause the restored backup not to work correctly. It takes about twice as long to do a verified backup because the program goes back and compares all the data that it copied to your backup and makes sure that it matches, bit for bit, every 1 and 0 in the original information.

Your backup program should give you the choices to do full or incremental backups and to verify or not verify the copied information.

Framerguy
 

jvandy57

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Charles,
Data Lifeguard, is a program that Western Digital ships with full retail Hard drives or you can download off of their website. It is not a backup program. Seagate and Maxtor both have their own versions of this type of software. It is actually a utility that fast fdisks, formats, tests, and sets up your hard drive. It will also install EZ-BIOs if your computer can't handle the larger Hard drive sizes.

My suggestion for a backup program would be Ghost 2003. It can copy directly to a cd burner from inside windows now. Plus several other options. It is what I use for my accounting and wholesale computer system (Not the one that crashed) If you want to copy just specific files Easy CD creator and Nero are very useful. If you have an HP drive like me, they have HP Record Now software that is fantastic.
 

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Hi Jerry,

Good point. Ghost is an excellent product.

Hey do you know offhand if the new Ghost 2003 works with XP (NTFS partitions)?

My Ghost 2002 will only read the older FAT32 partitions as used on windows 98, and if they changed this i'll upgrade to the new version.

Mike
 

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First a couple of questions, not that they do any good now....
Why did the nightly backups stop when the UPS failed?
And, were you using the same tape over and over andover and that's why the last good backup was from over a year ago?

And a few thoughts...
You should have protection on site to protect against hard drive failure, virus/malicious mischief and theft, and off site for flood/fire/property damage.

IDE RAID Level 1 (disk mirroring) adapter cards are available for $50-100. 20 GB hard drives can be had for around a hundred bucks. Therefore, given $150-200 you can almost relax about hard drive failure.

Internet-based backups are available for about $15/mo for almost umlimited capacity. They can be scheduled to run avery day without intervention.

(I gave up on consumer oriented tape backups several years ago. Not only are they painfully slow (no big deal when backing up, but a real pain when restoring), but I had numerous reliability problems. Additionally, swapping tapes in and out and trying to take them home every night is an even bigger pain)

I have to admit that it took a similar to your problem but very scaled down (combination of factors leaving me with the most recent backup being two days old) I decided that I would go overboard the other way. I now have redundant redundancy.

First off, I went to the IDE RAID. This provides not only a backup against hard drive failure, but uninterupted (even un-noticed, except for the little message that pops up) service while you are waiting to get a replacement.

Then, I continued my Internet service (lack of a working Internet connection caused my problem). This is performed nightly on all data files.

Then I got a backup program that writes to drives, including CD-RWs. This also performs nightly on all data files. I actully just updated to the latest version of the program that allows backing up to networked hard drives, so it's not only really fast, but I don't have to leave a CD-RW in the drive.

Lastly, I do a monthly backup of my current operating system and program partitions to a regualar CD-R.

And I haven't needed any of them, yet (It's been over 5 years).

I fairly regularly verify the validity of the Internet site. One of the best things I like about it is that it keeps up to about 10 versions of every file, so you can go back to an earlier version if you do something you don't like and accidentally save it.

BEEP, BEEP, BEEP (look out, I'm backing up.. ;)
 
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