Good Backup Practices
Afraid of doing Data Backups because you don’t fully understand it?
“Backing up and Managing your Data is simple, all you need is some extra help”
If you are looking for information about how to backup or restore your easyas data files using the easyas software then look at the dedicated web page.
This information below has been provided to give you added material which may help you with the development of good data practices. Remember that we are just giving you some additional information, you can take it or leave it, its your choice.
The actual process of Backup Up of the EasyAs Data Files is a very simple and painless process, which is how it should be.
Its only when individuals have not backed up their data or when their backed up copies get corrupted that the sky starts to fall, the roof caves in, as they scurry about with a lump in their throat looking for missing information.
To put it simply, Bad Practices
To put is nicer, Not Understanding what you should be doing
Now lets face it, in this fast pace world we are all wanting to perform every task in as short a time as possible as we usually have other things to do.
So backing up is usually the last thing on your mind and we usually tend to put it off until next time. Its only going to be a problem if you suddenly experience data failure or a crash of your operating system.
We don’t want to get involved in how you backup your data and how often you should do it, its your choice, its your business.
However This Is What I Do
I create two backups of all my data, I do this by having another hard drive in my pc plus I also use an external hard drive which I connect to my pc periodically.
You may not need to create two different backup sets or you may not be in a position to be able to put an additional hard drive in your pc. But there are cheap enough alternatives available so in the end its your choice which methods you go with and how many additional backups you create.. I have 2 backups as I am very paranoid about data loss after experiencing it a couple of times in the past.
I don’t copy and past my documents manually as this would be so labor intensive that I would never do it, I use programs specially designed for this process. It only takes a few minutes to install and setup but once you understand what they are doing they take care of all the time consuming stuff for you. In fact they are so good that I have the program running on my pc all the time and I have instructed it to perform a backup every 6 hours. Which means that every 6 hours the software automatically backs up any new documents or any documents I have changed.
Obviously you will need to spend a small bit of time playing with these types of programs. I suggest that you mess about with less important files until you understand what the program is doing before you set it up to backup you important stuff. Remember that this is something that you should be doing for all your documents, not just your accounting data. Any document which when lost could cause distress for you business should also be backed up periodically.
I and my colleagues have tested many different programs over the years and today I backup all my computers using GoodSync.
I have found that this program is one of the best priced programs on the market both for the function it performs and the cost. To me its not rocket science, there are some programs on the market that cost hundreds of dollars and to me that’s just a waste, but GoodSync it well priced and works, and this is the most important aspect you want something that works.
Remember I use GoodSync to backup ALL of my data from my main pc to another hard drive on my pc, and to another external hard drive that I connect at different periods. You might be asking why I do this, why so many backups.. You need to remember that hard drives can also fail and once they fail you have almost no chance of retrieving the information from them. So I always make sure that I have redundancies setup just in case my main drive craps itself. You may not need this many redundancies, but today the cost of obtaining another hard drive to at least have one complete duplicate is very minimal.. Its your choice but if it were me I would at least have one additional backup just in case.
Additional Points to Note:
A Point to Note is that I do not instruct any backup program to backup from my EasyAs Accounting Directory, I Always do a manual backup of my easyas data files to a different location. I have my backup software backup from that location only…
Why do I do This:
The main reason is that I want to have more than one backup of my accounting data which provides managed backups at different intervals in case of data corruption. So I save multiple copies of my data files to another location on my hard drive, this way I am always aware that I have data backed up over different time frames
Remember with the new easyas software it will backup a new timed backup each time you backup using the backup facility provided, so backing up multiple copies of your data files over a period of time is now even easier, in fact its done at the click of a button. See the data backup video for an understanding of how to use the backup facility that comes with easyas and how it is able to achieve multiple backups into the same location.
Corrupted Data Files
Remember if your backup data files are already corrupted then they are useless to you. In fact they are as good as having no backups as they cannot be used anyway.
Data files can get corrupted by power fluctuations, viruses, or simple problems with the operating system at a time when your were running the software.
You will NOT usually know if your files are corrupted, as there is usually no way of knowing. So when you are backing up your data files you will not know if you are backing up files which are already corrupted until you have to rely upon them. At this point it is usually too late and you are usually in a whole world of pain.
Hence the need to always backup at regular intervals, the more you backup the more copies of the easyas data files that you have to fall back on..
For example; lets assume that I use my accounting software every day, I create invoices and quotes daily and because of this I backup at the end of each day.. Three days ago I got a virus that played havoc with my pc but I was able to clean it out with my virus software.. Everything looked fine so i kept going along using all my software, and I kept performing my backups each day as I always do.
I come in this morning and the accounting software keeps freezing and playing up, the only way I can fix this problem is to restore my data files.. This seems to resolve the problem but by the end of the day the program is playing up again…
This is where having multiple daily backups is important as you eventually discover that all your backups from the last 3 days are corrupted and when you go back to a copy from 4 days ago everything is fine.. You discover that if you go back to a set of data files from the day before you got the virus everything is fine.
This is the problem everyone worldwide faces with any type of program, if you backup corrupted data files then you in effect have nothing…
Obviously in the scenario above I would have lost 3 days worth of information, but by having multiple backups I did not loose everything.. Many times a data corruption will show up straight away as soon as you attempt to use the data, however sometimes its not that obvious (as in the above example) and you can end up pulling your hair out until you discover what is going on.
A great tip:
I also go as far as pulling out the internet connection at the wall if lightening storms are around. I have seen pc’s fry themselves, and hard drives electronically fail due to lightening strikes sending excessive charges down the cable or telephone lines, into the modem, into the router, and back into the pc.. The last thing I want is to fry both your pc and backup systems at once.
Of course if you have a wireless connection to your pc then this is not a problem. I use hard wire setups between my pc’s as I have more security this way.
Also if you have some form of surge protection installed and you believe it will save your day, it may not… I have seen cases where nature seems to have forgotten that us humans have figured out a way to stop it, and it surges the pc anyway, thus giving grief even though you had surge protection in use.
My process of Backing up My Accounting Data Files
With the new EasyAs Software the process of backing up the data files has now become even easier. It use to take some effort to copy the files and rename them to make sure that I had staged backups over a period of time, however the new system takes care of this for me.
When you use the new backup process that comes with EasyAs it not only copies your data files to the backup location but it also renames them by dating each backup set. This means that I can now backup more regularly as it doesn’t seem such a chore, as all I need to do is click the icon to backup and the EasyAs System backups and provides me with instant data management.
When the EasyAs System copies the data files it also places a date in front of the file as part of the backup process. It does this so we can establish which file belongs to which backup set, and more importantly it allows us the ability to see how old the data sets are.
This is how my data files appear at present before they are backed up using the EasyAs Backup System:
When the EasyAs Backup Process copies the files it dates them, placing a date at the front of the file name:
This is awesome as previously I had to carry out the date activity myself. Previously after I backed up my data files I would have to go to the backup location and place the date in front of the file so I could successfully manage my data sets. This was something I always did as I knew the importance of maintaining a good data management system, however I did not backup anywhere near as often as I should due to all the steps involved.
However now that the EasyAs System takes care of almost all of this for me I find myself backing up more often, as all I have to do is click the icon and the easyas software takes care of the rest for me. Watch the video on this page for a complete overview of the backup process
If for some reason you want to perform this activity manually then it cannot be overstated how important it is to manage this correctly, and to place a date or a numbered backup in front of the backup sets so that you can maintain stability of your backups.
Remember that each backup is a “backup set”… You CANNOT take of the the files from a previous backup set and substitute it for another one, this can potentially corrupt all of your data… This is why its is important that IF you are doing this manually you should always perform some sort of managed backup processing.
If you are doing manual backups and placing a data in front of the file is an exhaustive measure then you could choose to use numbers instead… I have successfully maintained timed backups using both dates and numbers (secretly when doing manual backups I always prefer to use numbers as manually entering the data is too time consuming). To place a number in front of the name is exactly the same process except you keep a sequence of numbers and each data set has the same number.
This is an example of a numbered data set:
So if in the example above you started at 1001 then the next time you backup your data files they would all start with number 1002 and it would continue from there.
However with the new backup facility that comes with easyas I would not expect that anyone would be performing manual backups unless they were copying to a cd or some other device that easyas cannot talk to.
If you are using numbers then you should always start from 1001 as this helps to get around the effects of alphabetical order.. If you started from number 1 then when you go to 20 your computer will present your list with number twenty coming after number 2 as that’s the order (if you don’t believe me give it a try and see what happens, maybe future operating systems will overcome this issue)
Importance of Backing UP
The importance of performing regular backups can never be overstated enough, at EasyAs we see at least 1 to 2 people every year who contact us in a state of panic as they had never backed up and now their pc has crashed and they have lost sometimes as much as 2 years of data from the accounting system.
For the most part 50% of these individuals end up with complete data loss as there is nothing we can do for them, depending on the crash and their skills they can sometimes manually copy their files to a safe location, thus avoiding complete loss.
The key to remember is to Backup, Backup and Backup, it takes very little time but makes you smile if you ever need to rely on it.. I can tell you that I have smiled many times when I have had a systems crash as I know all my data is already saved and I never panic any more, I just shrug and get back to work.
Apart from a pc crash file corruption is something a lot of individuals never imagine or anticipate.
File corruption is possibly one of the worse case scenarios as it is hard to pin point until it is too late, and then its even harder to know when it first started. Thankfully this is a rare occurrence and something that only 1 in every 10,000 individuals will ever experience, and that may in fact be wrong, it could be 1 in every 100,000 individuals.
Data corruptions can happen for a number of reasons and I find that it is usually due to power fluctuations, or an operating system that is crashing, or a hard drive that is beginning to malfunction.
The easiest way for me to explain a corruption might be to have 50 girls and 50 boys line up in two lines and then have 5 or 6 random individuals jump to the other line. The person at the front cannot see that these individuals behind have jumped across and he or she continues on as normal. But then suddenly a day a week or at some random interval the person at the front needs to speak to the one of the people down the back but as he goes down the line he suddenly comes across a person of opposite sex and he has no idea what to do next.
This is what happens with a data corruption, once the file gets a corruption it becomes useless as the computer does not know what to do with it and has no idea when the corruption started. So for example you may have been using the program for 3 weeks past the initial corruption date before you realize a full blown corruption.
In the case of a hard drive failure it is usually sudden, so this is great if you end up with corrupted files as you can usually go back to the most recent set of backups and all is fine.. I did say usually, its not always the case but I think you get the idea.
However most of the time its extremely difficult to pin point but if you sit and think you may remember a power failure in the last few weeks or some other issue that happened that seemed small but you did notice some minor issues with the pc afterwards, but even those issues soon went away. This is most likely the beginning of the corruption..
But as we know things like power fluctuation can happens all the time and in many cases I see the odd glitch in my computers on a daily basis so how is anyone ever going to know how to get around a corruption, the only way you can safe guard against it is by backing up as often as possible.
The worst part about corrupted files is that if the corruption started 3 weeks previous and you have been backing up daily or weekly then you have actually been backing up corrupted data sets, and you may not know this until you restore them and start using them. Thankfully data corruption is a rare occurrence and I have only ever seen one case of this occurring in the last 10 years.
But I have heard that it is something that seems to be on the increase in businesses, I think it is due to the mass produced parts such as hard drives.. Above all backup, save data sets over a longer period of time. I keep up to 6 months of data sets, call me paranoid but I lost 5 years of data once and I never want to be hurt that way again.
Also keep at least two copies on two separate devices… it would be pointless to keep two copies on the same hard drive because if that drive has a mechanical failure then you lose both backups.