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Backups are made using a set of disks (or tapes, or separate folders on a network drive or writable CD) and are done frequently enough that having to re-input all the data between one backup Archives are backups that you take OUT of rotation on a regular basis, and store away in a safe place, and the next is not an overwhelming task. Depending on your organization and how much data you input, that might be daily, weekly, or monthly. It is important that you rotate these sets in order, copying over the oldest backup so that you always have multiple backups on hand. For example, if you backup weekly, you might have a backup for Week #1, Week #2, Week #3 and Week #4 of the month. On Week #1 of the next month, you overwrite the backup from the previous month’s Week #1 backup.

Archives are simply backups that you take OUT of rotation on a regular basis, and store away in a safe place, just in case you need them at some future date. In the Weekly example above, you would keep an Archival backup copy made at the end of the month, for each of the last 3 months.

This allows you to go back in time, so far as the data is concerned, to a point where there is no problem. Simply take the backup that you would normally copy over, set it aside, and introduce a new disk (or tape, or folder) into the backup rotation routine. Remember to mark the disk with the date the backup was made.

Why do we need multiple backups and/or archives?

Data errors (file corruption) can happen if there is a problem on your hard disk or if there is a power interruption while in the program or if the stars aren’t in proper alignment (no apparent reason, in other words). Instead of the horror of a total crash, something in-between happens-- for instance, a power outage introduces a problem on the hard disk, causing some corruption in the file-- for instance the file with gift data or the file with donor name data. This doesn't happen every time there is a power failure, but it happens often enough that we urge you to close out of FundRaiser before turning off your computer (which is, basically, the same thing as a power failure as far as FundRaiser is concerned).

In many cases the data isn't gone totally, but may have strange characters that don’t belong, or may not be able to index properly, and you may not notice it for a few weeks. So if you have just one backup, a recent one, it will probably have this corruption in it. You can't go back and restore to a good version in that case, so some data may be irretrievably lost, UNLESS you have multiple backup copies, and ideally even some archival copies.

If you do discover that you have corrupted data, we can help you. If you can send us a recent backup and an older backup or archive, we can usually put things back together. We remove corruption, find what is missing, put it back, come up with one good set of data and send it back to you. (Even if you do not have all the backups and archives, contact us and we will see what we can do.)

We do this as part of our support -- we want you to have a good FundRaiser experience.

So keep regular archives in addition to regular rotating backups. Make a year-end backup of your data and put this “end of year archive” in the safety deposit box. You will be glad you did, because there are only two kinds of computers: those that HAVE crashed, and those that WILL.

Larry Weaver is an A+ certified computer technician, a Microsoft Certified Professional, as well as the training manager here at FundRaiser Software. He has worked with FundRaiser Basic software off and on since the mid-'90's.  When not operating computers, he enjoys operating motorcycles and musical instruments, and watching his grandchildren grow and prosper.