Backing Up StudioSchool Pro using FileMaker Pro Server

What's the best strategy for backing up my StudioSchool Pro database files with FileMaker Server?

The first thing to understand about backing up a database is that in most cases, using a separate software program such as Retrospect or Veritas to copy your primary database files will not work. The backup software may make a copy of the database files, but if you ever need to use those backups, you will probably find that the files - because they were open at the time of the backup - are corrupt and unusable. This is the case for most databases, not just FileMaker based systems.

To handle this situation, FileMaker Server has a built-in backup scheduler that will run automatically in the background, making backups of your database files as often and to as many locations as you choose to setup. It is these sets of files that your third-party software should be making backups of and/or that you want to make manual backups of for offsite storage.

FileMaker Server's backup can occur multiple times across the day while users are actively working in the files; there is no need for everyone to close out of the system. When a backup occurs, except for a momentary pause in response time, no one should even know that anything has happened.

In general, we suggest a backup every 1-2 hours across the day. Here is one possible scenario for setting it up:

  1. Create four backup directories in the main backup folder, labeled MWF-AM, MWF-PM, TTSS-AM, TTSS-PM. For FileMaker Server 9 users, these can be within the "Backups" directory that already exists within the FileMaker Server folder. For FileMaker Server 5.5 users, you will need to create a Backups folder and then create the four folders within it.
  2. In the FileMaker Server Admin Console, create four backup "schedules", one for each of the above folders and with similar names, "MWF-AM", etc.
  3. For each backup schedule set it to perform 2-3 backup times. For example, for the MWF-AM schedule, set it to backup at 8:30, 10:30 and 12:30. For MWF-PM, schedule backups at 2:30, 4:30 and 6:30. There is nothing sacred about the times used here or the number of backups, feel free to use whatever suits your organization's needs.

Using the above system, you will have four backups across the previous 48 hours that you can revert back to as needed depending on when the problem happened. Each new backup overwrites the previous, so if "MWF-AM" is set to run at 8:30, 10:30 and 12:30, the 10:30 Monday backup will overwrite the 8:30 and the 12:30 Monday backup will overwrite the 10:30. Then the 12:30 backup will remain until Wednesday at 8:30.

In addition to these automated semi-hourly backups, you should of course, also have daily backups both locally and to other media such as an external hard drive or a rotating group of flash drives, one of which gets taken offsite on a regular basis.

Similar to the above schedule, we suggest creating a separate directory and sub-directories for daily backups:

  • Create a folder called "Daily Backup"
  • Within it create 6 or 7 folders named for the days of the week
  • Create one schedule for each folder that backs up on that day and repeating once a week. Each week the previous weeks files will be over-written

This will give you seven days of daily backups in addition to your more frequent backs occuring every hour or two.The files are relatively small and do not take up much space. Why not have the peace of mind of an automated system that is constantly creating hourly and daily backups for you. Of course, if this is all happening on the same hard drive and the whole drive goes bad it will not help, so make sure you have some backups to other media as well.

Documentation for FileMaker Server 9 can be found on in the FileMaker Server folder on your hard drive, and HERE. Information on scheduling backup is found starting on page 70.

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