Don’t be a victim of Act! data loss

By Wendy Cummins • February 14th, 2018

Recently, we have had several frantic calls from customers needing to restore contacts in Act! after a user has unwittingly deleted them. Unfortunately, in some cases, these clients haven’t had a recent backup of their Act! Database to pull the deleted contacts from. Don’t let this happen to you.

Follow these guidelines to protect your Act! data:

  • Limit user security to ONLY what the user NEEDS to do their job. It is a misconception that users need to be “administrators” in Act!. The administrator security level allows the user to do some scary things such as: delete a database, copy a database, delete all records in a database. There is a need for only 1 or maybe 2 users to have this “god-like” ability in Act!. The rest of the users can be assigned manager or standard security (or less). Consider removing the “delete records” permission from all standard users, and set up a system where records are “flagged” by users for review and deletion by an administrator or manager. Search Act! Help for “security roles” or check this Act! KB article for more information on security roles and custom permissions.

 

  • Train your staff. If you can’t remove the “delete records” option from the user’s profile, make sure they know the dangers of deleting – and the hassle of restoring.

 

  • Protect your hardware. Make sure your workstations and server have UPS units with surge protection to protect against power outages and lightning strikes. If your Act! database is open and the power goes down, it’s likely that you will experience data loss. Take the most basic precaution of having an uninterruptible power supply and surge protection on your server and workstations. UPS units have a shelf-life – make sure that yours is working properly by testing it periodically (unplug from the wall outlet) and especially before storm season when power outages can frequently occur.

 

  • Your “nightly server backup” is NOT enough. Just because your IT team is backing up files on your server nightly does not mean that Act! Is protected. The Act! Database cannot be backed up properly by most backup software (or cloud backup) because it is in a SQL database. You may be able to recover “some” data from one of these sources, but it will cost time and money and will likely not be a complete restore. The correct answer is to use the Act! Scheduler to automatically create a nightly backup (in the form of a ZIP file) AND then backup the ZIP file that is created by this process. See this article for more information, or this Act! knowledgebase article.

 

  • The Act! Scheduler tasks you create require Act! administrator-level credentials. IF THE USER NAME OR PASSWORD CHANGES, THE TASKS WILL NOT RUN. They will fail, and you will not have a backup when you need it. The Act! Scheduler only runs on the server where the database resides. Check the status of the tasks (or create or edit them) by logging into your Act! Server and then look in the notification area (bottom right corner of Windows by the clock) for a golden circle icon. Right-click that icon and choose “open Act! Scheduler.” The Act! Scheduler is a service that is set to start automatically on any machine with Act! and SQL server installed.

 

  • The Act! Scheduler is NOT infallible. Someone must still check regularly to make sure the tasks are running as scheduled. Luckily, there is an alert system built into the Act! Scheduler. You can configure an e-mail account (SMTP only) to be used by the Scheduler and then set each task to send an email to an address you specify whenever the task runs. The result is that someone in your organization will receive either confirmation that the task ran successfully or failed. Another caveat here…if your SMTP settings require a user name and password, this is another possible point of failure. Make sure you update the settings if the account credentials change. More information on the email notification setup can be found here.

 

  • Test your Act! Backup. It is a good idea to regularly restore your Act! data from backup just to make sure your backups are viable. The term “regularly” is arbitrary – you never know when a problem will arise. How devastating would it be to your business if you lost 1 week of Act! Input? What about 1 month or 6? Use the “restore as” function to make sure you don’t overwrite your current database.

Don’t be a victim of Act! data loss. Use the tools within Act! to protect your data and verify the system regularly. If you do find yourself in a situation where you need help to restore data – or if you’d like help taking with these security measures, our team of Act! experts can help. Reach out to us at support@egenconsulting.com.

 

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