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Act Backups and how they really work

Patricia Egen Consulting Fast TipsThis week we helped a client recover from a data loss.  However, it was not without some pain.  The data was not being backed up correctly so we had to restore from a really old backup copy.

Responding to another question regarding data restoration, someone asked if deleted records could be recovered. The answer was yes but with a caveat.  There had to be a good working backup that contained the data that was deleted.  If the data had not been backed up then it could not be recovered. Deletes are permanent.

In going through the explanation of why the deletes are permanent, we realized this would be a good blog topic.  We'll try to keep it "non-techy" but in some cases it will be that.  We promise to help make it user friendly.

First off, let's address backing up Act data.  Because Act is based on a SQL database backend, SQL usually keeps a link to it, meaning it has it open and active.  Most backup systems will not back up files that are open.  That is why running the Act Scheduler on a nightly basis and backing up the files to a zip file is safer.  All backups can handle zipped files since they are closed and not open.

If you do run the Act scheduler you need to periodically make sure it is running and backing up on the schedule you set.  You can either check the backup folder or open the Scheduler and look at the log file. We've seen creative "helpful" people see something running, not know what it is, and shut it down. The only time you find out the backup is not happening is when you need it - which is the absolute worst time to find that out.  Another reason backups might not happen is if a password for the administrator changes.  Newer versions of Act allow emails to be sent nightly confirming the backup.

Now let's talk about the backup itself. There are two ways to keep track of information changes in a SQL database.  This is where it gets a bit "techy."  One way is called Full Recovery Mode and one is called Simple Recovery.  Act is based on Simple Recovery and this is for a very good reason.  It is so the casual end user can backup and/or restore an Act database without needing to be an official database administrator.  Because it is simple means it doesn't keep large log files of changes around forever. And this is why when you delete something, it really goes away. If you need it back, you need to restore the data from a backup.  You may ask then why not use the Full Recovery method - well that would mean you would have to hire someone to manage the backups, restores and care and feeding of all the huge log files.  Trust me, unless you have a team of database admins you don't want this. 

Moral of this story - make sure you have working backups because deletes happen. They just do. Or servers crash. Or Windows helps you by changing things to corrupt your data. It's the best insurance you can have - a good backup. 

If you want to know more or want to make sure your backups are running properly let us know.  We can help.  Email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We're happy to perform an inexpensive "check out everything about my Act database" analysis. 

Patricia Egen Consulting, LLC

803 Creek Overlook, Chattanooga, TN 37415
Main office: 423-875-2652 • Arizona office: 480-788-7504 • Florida office: 754-300-2827