Backing Up Your Data

  1. Why bother backing up Sumac data?

  2. You use Sumac to manage valuable information. This data describes the details of how your organization works: its contacts, its communications, its revenue. If your data is not backed up, a simple computer failure can cause you and your organization incalculable damage. It is imperative that you back up this data on a regular basis.

  3. How often should I back up Sumac data?

  4. You should back up your data on a regular basis. At least weekly, better daily. Loss of a week’s data is a nuisance. Loss of a month’s data is a serious problem.

  5. What media should be used for backups?

  6. Back up to media that is not in the same location as the computer being backed up. This can be removable media like a USB key, a writable CD or DVD, a remote backup server, an external hard drive. If you put your backup on relatively unreliable devices (e.g. CD-R or DVD-R), then make sure that the backup program verifies the data after writing it.

    Once the backup is performed, remove the media. This does not mean to just turn it off or disconnect it from your computer. You need to physically remove it from your office. If you just put the backup device into a drawer beside the computer being backed up, then the same disaster (flood, fire, theft, lightning, etc.) that destroys the server computer will probably also destroy the backup device.

    You should have multiple copies. Don’t just back up to one device and re-use it every week. We recommend at least five different backup devices, using a different one each week on a five week cycle. Like any other electronic equipment, they can fail. Having just one or two is not sufficient.

    Instead of physically removable media, you can use an online backup service, which sends your data to a remote server.

  7. How do I back up Sumac?

  8. All versions of Sumac have a backup entire database feature which will save your database as a .zip file which you can save to the location of your choice.

    Step 1. Start by navigating to Utilities under the main Sumac console. From here expand Sumac Administration.

    Step 2. In here you will see a button called Backup Entire Database. This is the button which will allow you to do just that, remember that if you are not an administrator you will not be able to see this.

    Step 3. When you open Backup Entire Database, the first thing you will have to do is click Choose File. This will allow you to choose the name of the file and where you want to put the backup file. After choosing the name and location click OK and it will backup the entire database.

    Now you have an entire backup of the database which can be used to reproduce your database when needed. Remember that if you are a Sumac Cloud Customer, we do your backups nightly at 2am EST and keep each backup on file for 30 days. If you need a copy of this backup then give us a call or email [email protected]

  9. What follow-up is needed?

  10. Even if you think your backup is being performed on a regular basis, check again. Make sure that media are being taken off-site. Make sure that there are multiple copies of backups.

  11. How can I keep my server computer happy?

  12. Heat Dissipation

    Computer components produce a lot of heat. If they get excessively hot, they fail. That is why they have fans: to draw in cool air and blow out hot air.

    But running too hot on a continuous basis also shortens their lifetime. So take steps to help your computer keep cool:

    1. Make sure the ambient air temperature around the server is not too high. Normal room temperature (about 20 Celcius, 68 Fahrenheit) or a bit lower is ideal. Putting a computer in a closet is a bad idea: the temperature builds up too high.

    2. Make sure all air flow channels are clear. Air flow can be driven by a fan, but it can also be driven by convection. So you really need to make sure that all holes (not just those in front of fans) in the server computer’s case are clear. Note that there may be holes on the bottom – check for them and adjust the position of the computer appropriately.

    3. Make sure that the hot air output of one computer is not being drawn in to the cool air input of another.

    4. Clear the area around the server computer’s case. Fans cause heat to be dissipated by air flow, but a lot of heat is also dissipated by convection. Piling books and papers around and on top of your server thermally insulates its case, preventing heat from being dissipated. The computer is not a bookshelf or bookend. Keep it clear.

    Power Cycling

    A very high portion of computer failures are caused by connections breaking. A leading cause of broken connections is the expansion and contraction caused by thermal cycling: getting hotter then colder then hotter then colder. Ideally, a server should stay powered on all the time.

    Contaminants

    Do not put your server in a dirty location. Its fans are always sucking air into the case. If the air is dirty, dirt is pulled in along with the air. This dirt gradually works its way into computer components (e.g. disk drives) and causes them to fail.

    Here is a list of places where you should not put your server:

    1. The floor. Rub your hand on a typical office floor and it comes up dirty. Dust settles on the floor; people drop things on the floor, shoes bring in dirt that ends up on the floor. Servers sitting on the floor are going to be dirty.
    2. Beside a busy printer. Printers that handle a lot of paper emit paper dust. Paper dust is made of very hard cellulose fibres. The dust gets sucked into computer cases and causes damage.
    3. Near a kitchen or coffee station. The water hazard is obvious. Less obvious is that food preparation areas frequently have an aerosol of oil particles in the air. Once these are pulled into a computer case, they act like glue, ensuring that any other dust and dirt that arrives will never leave.

    Disk Fragmentation (Windows)

    If your server is a Windows computer, the disk needs to be regularly defragmented. Fragmentation of a disk occurs because any particular file may be broken into pieces – fragments – that are stored in different places on the disk.

    If the fragmentation gets excessive (too many files are stored in several places), performance drops noticeably and the disk drive is strained as it constantly has to reassemble pieces of fragmented files. Eventually, severe fragmentation causes Windows to crash.

    Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8 enable you to schedule regular automatic defragmentation. Earlier versions of Windows require you to manually defragment. Every month or two is usually adequate.