Tip #093 – Backing Up Your Data

Tip #093
Backing Up Your Data

I am writing this post today because I just helped a flowerSoft customer restore his system from a major crash.

fortunately, this customer does complete backups every day so he did not lose anything.  All he had to do after the restore was enter the orders that he received while his server was down.

So, the point of this post is to remind you too will lose your data at some point.  It is not a question of whether or not you will lose your data, sooner or later you will lose your data.  Hopefully, just like this customer, you will be well prepared for this inevitable event.

How often should you back up your data?  If I was you, I would do it every day.

I have the flowerSoft programs backed up in at least 3 different computers of my own, plus to some degree of relevance in your own computers and servers.

I also use Carbonite and Gillware on-line backup programs to back up my computers every time anything changes on them.  However, on catastrophic situations, those backups may take quite a while to restore because they have to restore the files via the internet.
They are better suited for restoring a few files at a time, that is why it is always wise to also backup your programs to one of your computers or a USB drive.

Some of you think backups are a tedious process that require a lot of effort and time.  Nothing could be further from the truth.
In today’s world, setting up and running backups do not take that long and  is a very simple process to implement

Commercial backup products can be set up to back up your data and/or programs automatically every night.  The only effort that is required is the original time spent setting up the backup and making sure that there is a place for the backup to store the information backed up.  In other words, a cd, usb drive or other media device for the backup to use.  Such commercial backups will run un-attended each and every night.  All you have to do is change the media each morning.  I would recommend having different media for each day of the week, plus another media that you use once a month.

In other words, have a backup copy of your data and programs that you do not overwrite for an entire month.  Plus individual backups for each day of the week.

If you do not have a commercial backup program, which is what you should have, flowerSoft does offer you a way to back up your data.  Here is how.

Go to the Manager’s menu and access he Utilities option.  There you will find the Backup option.

Once you select this option, you will be able to choose whether you want to back up your data or the flowerSoft programs.  You cannot select to have them both backed up at the same time.

Let’s take a look at how we back up your data.
Once you select the option to back up your data, the following screen will display:

If you read what the screen says, you should be able to perform the backup, but let’s go over it anyhow.

The first thing that flowerSoft wants to know is where it should save the backed up data.  It needs to know the drive letter and the name of the folder in which you wish to save the backed up files.

For this example, I’m going to be using a usb thumb drive.  When you insert a usb thumb drive into your computer, Windows assigns it a letter.  This letter is the next available letter in the computer, which will almost never be lower than E unless you do not have a cd or dvd drive in the computer.

Anyhow, you must find out what letter Windows assigned to the usb thumb drive or whatever device you are using to store your backed up files.  You can find out the letter assignment by clicking on “My Computer” or by accessing the Windows Explorer (not the Internet Explorer) and looking at the drive assignments.

In my case here, when I inserted the usb drive into my computer, Windows assigned the letter K to it.  So hee is what I entered on the screen above:

Now, I called the name of the folder where I wanted the backed up files to go DATA_BACKUP, but you could give it any name you want.  If you are going to do backups every day, as you should, it would be a good idea to include the date in the name of the folder, such as DATA_BACKUP_072912.

Please also note that the first time you create a folder name, Windows will ask you if you are specifying the name of a file or a directory.

A directory is another name for a folder.  Make sure you always answer D for directory.
This is critical.  If you answer F for file your backup will be unusable.

As soon as you enter D for directory, the program will start saving the data files into the specified folder.

Your flowerSoft data is composed of 3 different file types, KEY, MAP and INDEX.  The index files can always be rebuilt but the KEY files, which actually contain the data, are no good without its corresponding MAP file.

You also should make sure that the storage device has sufficient space to store the backed up data.  This of course varies depending on how much data you have.  If you are using usb thumb drives, I would not use anything less that 4GB.  This size will ensure that there is enough room to store all your data and flowerSoft programs in the drive.

flowerSoft uses a Microsoft program called XCOPY to back up your data.  This program comes with every computer sold.  You do not have to purchase it in order to use it.  However, XCOPY does not do any file compression, which means that it will use more space to save your files than commercial programs that use compression.

If there isn’t enough space in your storage device to complete the backup operation, Windows will display the message shown above for you to insert another device with sufficient space to complete the operation.  This is not desirable because now will need 2 different devices to restore your data should that ever become necessary.  Thumb drives, if used exclusively for flowerSoft backups, do not need to be bigger than 4GB.

Also, please note that with the flowerSoft backup utility there is no need to erase the thumb drive each time you do a backup because XCOPY will overwrite the existing flowerSoft files when it does the backup.

Once the backup completes, the following screen will be displayed.

Again, a commercial backup program is the way to go but if for any reason you cannot get one or need a way to back up your data until you get one, flowerSoft provides you with this method.  Use it every day.

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