The Importance of Backups

I get asked about backups quite frequently.  I’m asked how important are backups?  Should I backup the operating system also?  How often should I run my backup?

Well as long as I have been working with computer systems, I can say that the people that do regular backups are usually up and doing business much quicker than those who do not backup or backup only seldom.

A good rule of thumb when it comes to backups is:  You need to backup ANYTHING that you can not afford to lose.

The difference in time that it takes to rebuild a system from a tape versus from scratch can be a week compared to a day or two with a good backup.

You say "I backup everyday so all my backups are good".  For the most part this is true, but the reports or emails that you receive from your backup program have some important information that you need to check.  Did the backup complete successfully,  and did the verify process complete successfully.  The verify process confirms that the file backed up matches what is on the hard drive.  If the file does not backup or verify, the report/email tells you what file had problems and why it failed either process.

One  reason why a file would fail is because the file is locked by a user who has not logged out of the system, or has not logged out of a software application properly.  A verify failure is usually caused  when a file that was backed up, has changed.  Either the size of the file changed, or a "bad write" to the backup medium occurred because of a dirty tape or dirty tape drive.  In any case the failure should be resolved ASAP.

Full Backups vs. Selected Backups ?
For this consideration, I feel that it depends on what you are backing up.  If you are backing up a server that hosts your Point of Sale or Accounting application then a Full System Backup should be performed everyday using the backup software installed on you server.  This is best done BEFORE any posting operations, so you can recover, correct the problems, and try again. 

If your backing up your workstation or home PC, you should backup "Anything you can not afford to lose".  Like your documents, emails, favorites, music, or pictures to name a few.  These can be backed up to a CD-RW, USB Flash Drive, or even another PC, as often as you like.  This should be often enough to catch when something changes.

CCS Retail Systems can help you setup your Windows or Unix/Linux Servers with backup software, and automated backups on a schedule that fits.  Also CCS Retail Systems can recommend what backup software to use.  For example, for the Windows 2000 server and above, Backup Assist is a great choice. For SCO Unix and Linux servers Microlite’s Backup Edge is second to none in my opinion.  Both of these applications can be reviewed from the CCS Retail Systems website.

If you have any other questions about backups feel free to email me at or call 800-672-4806
Have a Great Weekend

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