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by Larry Weaver

Making back-ups of your data is like having insurance. Nothing may ever go wrong, but if it does...! Back-ups mean you will not irretrievably lose data or have to spend time reentering it by hand. It's important to backup regularly and perhaps even more important to make multiple copies of your backups.

Why make back-ups

The three main reasons to back-up data are:
-- to insure against data corruption
-- to insure against data destruction:
-- to allow for data transport

Back-ups mean you will not irretrievably lose data.

Data corruption can happen when FundRaiser is running and your computer suddenly loses power, or 'locks up' and you need to restart your computer. It can also happen as a result of a computer virus.

Data destruction can occur in the event of a catastrophic disaster, such as fire, earthquake, or flood.

Data transport happens when you want to move your data from one computer to another, such as from the computer in your home to the one at work.

How often to make back-ups

Opinions vary on how often should you make a backup. It depends on how often you make changes to your data, and what losing that data would mean to you. If you are making changes to your data every day, then making a backup daily is ideal, and weekly should be an absolutely minimal frequency. Here at FundRaiser we make backups every night.

How many back-ups to make

Even more important than how often is how many backup sets you should keep. Making multiple backups will help insure that if your data gets corrupted, you will still have a copy of uncorrupted data. It may take several days for you to discover that your data is corrupted, and by then, your backup may contain the same error as your active file.

I advise making at least 3 sets of backups (labeled clearly) and rotating through them. Any more can be unwieldy, and less can leave you vulnerable to having no viable backups, since you may not notice the corruption for awhile. Rotate the disks (or locations on a fixed drive) so that you are replacing the oldest backup with the most recent data. At FundRaiser we make 11 backup copies of our data.

Archival back-ups

You may also want to consider making an archival backup, which is just an extra backup on a separate disk, made with the intention of storing it off-site. These are not rotated, but stored and will allow you to rebuild your data base in the event that something happens to all of your regular backups, like corrupted data, or a fire that destroys all your records.

How to make a back-up in FundRaiser Basic

To make a backup, use the file menu's "Create Backup" function to copy FundRaiser data files to another media, whether it's a USB thumb/flash drive, a diskette, a zip or jazz drive, or even a CD. If you intend backing up to a CD, however, be aware that it must be pre-formatted to accept data files, using your CD software. To restore, go to the file menu in FundRaiser and click on backup/restore again.

You can also use any one of several “external” methods to copy your FundRaiser Basic files to another location.  The Windows operating system has a backup facility, for instance, as well as the ability to copy/paste the files from your FRBW folder on your C:\ drive (where Basic is installed by default) to some other drive or location.  There are many programs, such as WinZip, WinRAR, and others, that can not only copy but compress all the copied files into a single, more compact file.

Whatever method you use, use it consistently and often, and when that fatal crash comes, you’ll breath a sigh of relief, knowing you have the data safe in a backup.

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.