Your company file holds valuable information that is critical to the day to day running of your business. This can include customer details, supplier details, invoices, bills and so on. Can you imagine if one day you had a critical incident and the company file was damaged so badly that you could never use it again? This is why backing up is so important.
What is a backup and why is it necessary?
Backup is the copying of your computer generated company files to disk or some other form of storage device, separate from your computer system. Backups are necessary as they provide a working copy of your data that can be reloaded into your machine in case the original copy stored on your computer becomes damaged or corrupted. Data corruption can occur in numerous ways: viruses, power failures, power spikes (these are sometimes not even noticeable), system crashes, external damage such as fire or theft, or simply user error.
Backups are also important for the purpose of retaining historical records and the ability to access information from previous financial years.
You should take regular "point-in-time" backups, maybe weekly (or whatever works for you). You should also take backups at critical times, such as before importing data or at the end of the financial year. You should store these backups securely - in case you need to restore them at a later date.
For example, it may be necessary to reprint an employee's Payment Summary for a previous year (Australia only).
How and when you backup depends largely on your business and how often you update your company file(s). The bottom line is: what do you consider your business is worth, and what price do you put on maintaining accurate and complete records?
If you consider that your company file is too important to lose, or that it would be costly to replace, then you must backup regularly. In fact you should verify and backup your company file at the end of every session. Back it up to a removable storage device such as CD or USB drive, so it can be stored away from the computer itself.
If using a USB storage device, make sure you disconnect the USB device properly when finished saving to it. This can prevent corrupting the data you are saving to the disk.
Rotational Backup refers to rotating a set of disks for backing up in a set period. This might be a different backup disk for each day of the week. Monday's backup is on Monday's disk, Tuesday's on Tuesday's disk, etc. If you feel you are not using the software that frequently then you might rotate disks on a weekly basis. Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4 and then back to Week 1 again.
Archival Backup refers to taking a copy and placing it in a safe place never to be copied over again. Archival Backups are essential at the end of each month and year. This means you will have a January Backup, a February Backup, etc. as well as a 2011 Backup, 2012 Backup, and so on. Your End of Year Backup must be done prior to rolling over your financial year.
Complete backup involves backing up the whole company file. The provided backup procedure employs this method. It ensures you have a full copy of your company file after each backup.
Paper copy backup. You should always print out and correctly store the necessary end of month and end of year reports as well as the occasional reports showing customers, vendors, accounts, and so on.
Because all current versions of the software are real time applications, they do not have a Save. A real time application means that any data entered is immediately written to the hard disk when you press Record or OK to any new data such as a sale or a customer card.
How often you backup depends largely on the value you place on the information to your business' viability, and the cost of replacing and/or recreating it in the event of loss.
For users opening and updating their company files every day, our recommendation is to set aside a disk for each day of the week labelled MONDAY, TUESDAY, and so on through to FRIDAY. Use each disk on the nominated day, and at the file name prompt during backup, change the file name from MonthDay.ZIP to the day of the week. For example, MON.ZIP, TUES.ZIP and so on. Thus Monday's backup will be on the disk labelled MONDAY, and the file name will be MON.ZIP.
After one cycle (or week), when you next enter the backup file name, the system will prompt you to overwrite the previous week's file. By responding , you are automatically putting in place a 5-day cyclical backup regime.
Note that if you are using floppy disks, over time, as your company file grows, there may come a time when you need a second disk for each day to store the data; this will occur when the company file grows beyond approximately 4.5 Mb in size.
AccountRight has two backup options:
- Back up all data
- Back up Company File and M-Powered Services Centre only (Australian versions)
- Back up Company File Only (New Zealand versions)
Many people think that because they have created a backup that it has worked. This is not necessarily the case as many other factors can affect the success of the backup. There are many stories of people finding out that their backup procedure has been failing only when they suddenly need to restore.
You should regularly test the backup to ensure the data has been successfully backing up and that it can be readily accessed and restored when required. It is good to become confident with the process of restoring. This should be a mandatory exercise especially after any upgrades or changes are made to your system, such as application, hardware or system upgrades, and so on.
To test your backup, restore it to a different location than your company file. This will avoid overwriting your current company file.
Your backups should always be stored in a safe and secure place. A fire safe is ideal. Sometimes it is necessary to consider storing backups off site, particularly key backups such as end of month or end of year archival backups. This way, if a fire or natural disaster causes damage you will still have a backup. The backup is useless if you cannot access it when needed, or if it is destroyed or stolen with the computer. Your applications and hardware are easily replaced. Your individual/company information is not unless you have backups.