Synchronized Data Backups

By Wayne Carriere, BMS President

Black Mountain Software has previously addressed the importance of properly creating and maintaining daily backups of critical database files, covering a variety of details related to the backup process in various publications. However, one of the most often overlooked items is that these backups need to be “synchronized” to provide the greatest protection in case of live data loss.

What are “synchronized” backups and why are they important?A synchronized backup provides a snapshot of how everything was in each application database at essentially a single point in time. It is normally scheduled to run automatically late each night. If you have more than one application from Black Mountain Software and those applications are interfaced (and most are), then information contained in one database has driven the status of data in a related database(s). If backups of individual databases were made at different times, they most likely will not match (i.e., some data in one database will not match the related data in another database).

The problem is best illustrated by considering a Utility Billing payment that was taken in Cash Receipting. If you restore a Utility Billing backup taken after the payment was made, and a Cash Receipting backup that was taken before the payment was made, then the data in the two systems will not match. It can be made to match, but that usually involves special effort by Support personnel, or development of custom data fix programs by the Software Development Team. Given that the problem was caused by something beyond our control (e.g., virus attack, power outage, hardware/network failure, etc.), there most likely will be charges to correct the problem because this situation is specifically not covered by Annual Service and Support fees.

When a recent synchronized backup is available, it is simply a matter of restoring the individual databases, and then the client only needs to manually enter whatever transactions occurred between when the backup was made, and the time the problem occurred. Often, that means that only a few transactions need to be reentered by a client. If you always maintain a good set of synchronized backups from each of the previous 10 working days (preferably off site in case your network is ever destroyed), your databases will be very well protected. Restoring one of these synchronized backups can get you back up and running as quickly and easily as possible, with little or no expense.

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