Backup best practice

Who should read this?

  • If your Case Manager database is hosted by Chameleon Software you do not need to read this page. We have already put best practice backup procedures in place for your system.
  • If we are not hosting your database, then this page is very important to your business. It should be read by the person responsible for hosting the SQL Server instance and file system where your Case Manager installation is located.

Overview

To appreciate the importance of backing up, ask yourself:

What would I do if I lost everything I had entered into Case Manager since I started using it?

There are a number of events that could make you lose data:

  • a hardware failure
  • a virus could infect your system making all your files unusable
  • someone might accidentally delete the entire database file
  • someone might incorrectly delete or modify some of the information in the database
  • a problem may occur during an upgrade or change process

Obviously this could be a major disaster for your business. You could only recover if you had a backup copy of the database and the file system and could quickly restore your system with minimal data loss.

Rather than crossing your fingers and hoping this never happens, you need to put a process in place.

This page explains the responsibilities and the process to follow to ensure your data is backed up well enough to recover with minimal data loss.

Responsibilities

It's important to be clear in advance about who is responsible for each aspect of your backup practices.

Chameleon Software

  • We provide guidance for the initial backup procedure when you first install Case Manager.
  • We provide advice in the event of a disaster recovery.

Customer

  • Implement a backup strategy.
  • Implement regular checks to ensure backup procedures are operational.
  • Ensure off-site copies of the backups are maintained.
  • Document and test a recovery plan.
  • Notify Chameleon Software as soon as a data recovery requirement is identified and before you attempt to restore data.
  • We highly recommend calling us before any attempts to restore data because we may be able to help identify the best course of action to get your Case Manager system restored as quickly and as safely as possible.

Important note

If you run a larger business and your database is located on a network server, you probably have an IT administrator and files are probably already being backed up. You may think that it is unnecessary to read the rest of this page. However it would be wise to confirm that the backup strategy follows the recommendations below.

  • In particular, you should suggest that Case Manager's batch utility is used to back up the database because it checks for integrity before compressing the files and creating a backup file. If this is not done, the risk is that corrupt or damaged databases are backed up and this will cause problems should they ever be required.
  • To back up files apart from the database, batch files can be created and scheduled using “Scheduled Tasks” to copy files to an off site/external share nightly to back up documents and any Case Manager related data.

The backup strategy

Best Practice recommends that your backup plan should include:

Backup medium

  • The easiest method of backing up is to purchase an external drive. This means that you can backup your files without being present. The backup can be scheduled to occur automatically every night or as frequently as necessary.
  • Another option is to backup to flash disks. Depending on the size of the flash disks, this may require you to be present and may involve a number of disks if you have a large database.
  • Best practice is to use more than one set of backup drives or disks, and cycle through them. That way you will always have several backups if you need them.
  • For example you could have 2 external drives named Drive_1 and Drive_2 and swap them on alternate days or weeks. This helps in a disaster recovery (DR) scenario where one of the backups has become corrupt.

Note that sophisticated users could utilise disk arrays and raid systems in conjunction with IT personnel assistance.

Files to backup

There are two key Case Manager file locations that need to be backed up:

  • Case Manager Database file(s)
  • Case Manager provides a utility to backup your database and create a .bak file. This file needs to be copied to an external location daily (either via external drive, cloud , etc).

    The utility is a batch file located in the directory created during installation of Case Manager Software at \\<install_location>\backup. It can be scheduled to run after hours when this suits you by using a task scheduler.

    The utility does more than creating a back up file. It knows which files to backup and it runs an SQL (database) script that checks the integrity of the database and compresses files before creating a backup copy in this same location. This ensures that you are backing up a healthy database file and not just a copy that might contain problems.

  • Case Manager Document files
  • It's important to understand that the backup utility only backs up the Case Manager database. It does not back up linked documents files (Word, Excel, etc) that you have placed in Case Manager and are stored in the file sharing area of the system. You will need to perform a hard drive backup or copy the MainDB and DemoDB folders from the installation folders to an external location. We can create batch files for you to run this as a scheduled task if required.

Software

The Windows operating system software includes a backup utility. This software is ideal as it is easy to use and does not cost you any extra money. However there are commercial 3rd party applications available for purchase if you choose.

You can use normal windows backup to do a backup of the Case Manager install directory and folders, thus backing up the Database Backup created by the Case Manager backup batch file and SQL script.

Frequency of backup

We recommend that you backup the Case Manager database at least every working day. By doing this, you will never lose more than one day’s worth of data.

Regularly check backup procedures are operational

We highly recommend that the backup procedures are checked at least weekly to ensure that all backups are running as they should. If you are using the utility in \\install_location\backup it creates a .log file which you can open with Notepad to check if the backup was successful.

If you are using any other backup methods, regularly check the status of the last backup to ensure that it ran successfully.

Maintain off-site copies of the backups

Backups stored at the same place as the computer hosting Case Manager would be no use in the event of a fire at this location. Thus, it is essential to keep backups in a different physical location from your computer.

Once again, using 2 external drives is advantageous because one can be kept off site whilst the other remains for this week’s backup. Change which drive is at which location on a weekly basis.

Document and test a recovery plan.

It is important that a recovery plan is developed to reduce down time in an event of a failure. As you do with a fire drill, execute the plan periodically to ensure that your backups can actually be promptly restored.

We recommend that one of the backup files is restored with a different DB name periodically to ensure that the data is intact and current.

Resources

For more information about Data backup and recovery see https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb727010.aspx

Image credit