A few weeks ago the hard drive on my new laptop (only 6 weeks old) died. After a 30-minute phone call to tech support and following instructions for a few secret function key diagnostics, the tech responded with “So sorry to tell you mam, that your hard drive is no longer functioning. We will schedule a technician for next week to swap out the defective hard drive with a new one. Will that be OK?”
“No, I think, I want to keep the one that doesn’t work.” OK, cutting the sarcasm.
So that brings me to this week’s tip.
Backing up your ACT! database (and other files)
I’m sure that your files on the server are being backed up on a nightly basis. However, did you know that open files are not backed up? Since ACT! is based on SQL, by definition, the ACT! database is always open… even if everyone is logged out of the database. Consequently your server backup is not making backups of up your ACT! database.
Fortunately, ACT! has included a way to automate the backup of your database(s) to a .zip file. Your server backup software can then backup these .zip files (so that you have lots of backups that can be easily restored if or when necessary).
To automate your ACT! backups
If you are using a remote sync database, your ACT! database is always backing up to the server, so you will not need to set this up for a remote. However, it would be really important to verify that it is setup and running on the server.
- In ACT!, click Tools, ACT! Scheduler…
- If you don’t see a Backup task listed in the right pane (no one has created one yet), click the Create a task hyperlink at the left.
- Click the Browse… button to locate your ACT! database and click Open.
- Enter your User name: and Password: (enter a User Name with Administrator rights).
- Click Next >.
- From the drop-down, select the Database Backup option. (Note: If you are on a remote and do not see the Database Backup option, you have not been given rights to perform Remote Administration to allow you to do backups.)
- Click Next>.
- Use the Browse button to select a new location for the backup, if desired.
- Modify the Default backup file name if you like (I usually don’t change this).
- I usually check the option to Include Attachments. If you have other backup software, you don’t really need to check the option… but it can be handy if you need to restore a backup later on.
- Click the Next> button.
- Use the up and down arrows to define how many backups you would like to keep before they start overwriting each other. Five is the default and should be fine for most companies (if you don’t see this option, your version of ACT! is really old).
- Click the Next> button.
- For timing, my preference is to click the Daily option. Then select a Start Time. Usually this will be sometime after 5PM, but before your server backup kicks off. It is not required that users be out of the database for a backup to occur, but it might slow down performance, so a later time in the day is preferable.
- Click the Finish button.
- While you are here, you might add another task to perform Database Maintenance on a Weekly basis. I like to choose Saturday or Sunday for this task, since it is automated.
- Finally, at the left, if Stop Service is bold and Start Service is grayed out, then you are done. Otherwise, click the Start Service link to Start the automated scheduler.
- Click Exit.
If the service is setup and running, then you will see a gold clock in the server’s system tray.
NOTE: If there is a red X on the icon, it means the service has not been started. You should open and click the Start Service link.
Backing up is really important. See my previous tip on manually backing up your database if you would like to create a quick manual backup before doing something like importing files.
Bonus Tip: Fortunately all of my non-ACT! files were backed up and easy to transfer to my new hard drive, but I still had about 30 software programs that I needed to re-install and re-register. My son turned me on to this site www.ninite.com which installed about 10 of those basic/free programs (AVG, Chrome, Adobe Reader, Trillian, Skype, etc.) all at the same time.
Gotta love and hate technology.