Imagine coming to work in the morning to find the building where your practice is located burned to the ground. It’s a pretty terrifying concept isn't it? What would compound that despair is realising that all your patient and financial data for the practice is now gone with the building. Years and years of work literally turned to ash.
Taking a backup is an important task when running your own database. Backing up is the copying and archiving of data so that in the event of data loss you can restore your information to its original state. Within a medical practice a backup is important as it contains all the patient’s data and correspondence that is critical to your role in their care, along with all the financial information for your practice.
Before you begin
It is important to nominate someone within the practice (whether that be your I.T. professional or a staff member) who will be looking after the backup process. This person will be responsible for the configuration and maintenance of your backups. You, as a practice, will need to decide how these backups will be completed, where they will be stored, and how to restore the backup should a data loss event occur.
Some things to consider regarding setting this up within your practice:
- How often are you going to need to back up your data? You need to remember that if you only back up once a week, in the event of needing to restore from a backup, you would lose any new data since that last backup was performed.
- Where are these backups going to be stored? If they are going to be stored on site (say on an external drive) it is important that you have an off-site copy also as, in the event of a robbery or a fire, you would still have a copy of that data. It is important to consider where this off-site copy will be held so that it is accessible.
- How can you access that backup in the event of a data loss event? Does your nominated staff member know how to implement the restore of a backup? What happens if they are unavailable?
- Are you going to keep historical backups? Historical backups enable you to look back at a copy of your data as it was at a period of time in the past. Keeping historical backups of your data is also a medico-legal requirement. These can be used in conjunction with automated backups. For more information on Historical Backups, please see the Historical Backups section of this article.
- Do you have a policy in place to regularly verify your backups to ensure they are complete and able to be restored?
- What method are you going to use to complete your backups? Genie's automated backups or a third-party/alternative process? Are you going to use both?
A Genie automated backup is an automated backup process which is built into the Genie server application. Once configured, this process will take a copy of your Genie datafile (Genie.4DD) and save it as a Genie backup file GenieXXXX.4BK (XXXX will show the sequence number of the backup i.e. 0001, 0002.) This will save in a location that you choose during the setup process.
This process will only backup the datafile, unless the Images folder is specifically included in the backup. To ensure that the Images folder is included in the backup, ensure that you follow Step 5 below. Please ensure that you have ample space in your backup folder, as including the images folder will increase the size of your backup files.
If you choose to not include the Images folder, or find that this drastically increases the size of your backup file, you will need to manually back up the images folder.
As the backup process is making a copy of the data file, it can cause slowness in Genie while this is performed, therefore it is best to schedule this backup outside of consulting hours to minimise impact on the users.
Getting started – Configuring an automatic backup
- On the server machine navigate to File > Backup (on Windows) or Genie Server > Backup (on Mac)
- The window that appears is where you can manually start a backup if required. It also shows some general information such as where the backup is set to save and when the backup was last run. Click on Database Properties
- In the new window and navigate to the ‘Scheduler’ tab. This tab will allow you to set the time in which the backup will run. We recommend that this is set to complete outside of business hours when Genie is not in use. Note: The server application needs to be running for scheduled automatic backups to complete.
- Next, navigate to the ‘Configuration’ tab. In this tab you want to ensure ‘Data File’ has a tick next to it. You also want to ensure the location under ‘Backup File Destination Folder’ is set correctly.
- To include the Images folder in your backup, click the Add folder... button, then navigate to and select the Images folder within your root Genie folder.
- Open the ‘Backup & Restore’ tab. The settings shown here relate to how many backups you wish to keep, by default this is set to three. You can increase this if you need to. This tab also gives you the options of what to do if a backup fails. You can set it to skip the backup until the next scheduled time or it can be set to attempt again in seconds/minutes/hours. We recommend that the Automatic Restore options at the bottom are not ticked.
- This will take you back to the first popup window we saw where you can click the ‘Backup’ button to start the first backup.
From the ‘Maintenance’ tab of the server admin window you can see when the last backup was completed and when the next one is due.
Once configured, the Genie automatic backups will take place at the scheduled time and save to the location you specified in the setup process.
What we refer to as an 'alternative' backup is any backup process other than Genie's automated process. This can either be a third-party application that takes a backup for you, or a nominated user who simply copies the necessary files.
Please note: Alternative backups should not be carried out while the Genie Server application is running. This can lead to severe and irrevocable data corruption, regardless of whether you are copying the data manually or via a third-party application.
An alternative backup must copy all the components required to open your Genie datafile. As well as keeping backups for emergencies it’s a good idea to keep manual copies of what the datafile and applications looked like at that point in time.
What do I need to backup?
We need to backup all the files needed to open your data file. This includes:
- Images Folder
On Windows you should also backup the Solo Application folder from within the Genie root folder, and on a Mac, the Genie single user application (lamp with black cord).
It is important you keep a few different instances of the data in case of data corruption. You could do an external backup as many times as you wish e.g. once a day, once a week etc. It depends on your requirements. These would need to be labelled by date so you have a record of the backups.
As you are physically copying these files including the Genie.4DD it is important that all users are logged out of Genie and the server application is closed during this process.
Please Note: Automatic backups will only backup the data file, unless the Images folder is specifically included in the backup. To ensure that the Images folder is included in the backup, ensure that you follow the Configuration section under Step 3 below. Please ensure that you have ample space in your backup folder, as including the images folder will increase the size of your backup files.
If you choose not to include the Images in your backup, or find that doing so drastically increases the size of your backup file, we recommend to manually back up your images folder.
- Navigate to File> Maintenance and Reports> General> Maintenance and Security Centre
- Within the Maintenance and Security Centre select the Backup option on the left
- Select Database Properties at the bottom of this window. Work through each of the tabs and set up the backup preferences that are appropriate to you.
- Scheduler: Select how often you want Genie to Automatically backup and when you want the backup to occur. Keep in mind, you will not be able to use Genie while the backup is running. For this reason, we recommend opting to run the backup outside of your regular operating hours.
- Configuration: Ensure that Data File and Structure File are selected. To include your images in the backup, click the Add folder... button, then navigate to and select the Images folder within your root Genie folder. In Backup File Destination, select the location that you wish your backup to save to.
- Backup & Restore: This allows you to select how many backup files you wish to keep, as well as when and how often you want Genie to retry if your backup fails. We recommend that the Automatic Restore options at the bottom are not ticked.
- When you are happy with the settings select OK.
You can also manually prompt Genie to backup by navigating to the Maintenance and Security Centre> Backup and choosing the Backup option in the bottom right corner. You may wish to test this after you have completed your automatic backup configuration.
It is essential that on top of your automatic backups you also have at least one external backup configured. This is so that if the hardware your automatic backups have been configured to or your regular hardware is destroyed, you have an additional copy to rely on. It is important that this additional backup is kept in another location to your regular hardware. You can have as many external backups as you like, as long as they are consistent and reliable.
These external backups are just as important as your regular backups. These backups can be used to simply back up the Genie.4BK (the automatic backup file), the Genie.4DD or the entire Genie folder. It is essential that you backup the following files using one of your external backups:
- Images Folder
If you are unsure about configuring your external backups, please contact your IT support to assist with this.
As well as performing backups for emergencies, you should also create regular historical backups of your data and application files. Historical backups allow you to have snapshots of your data at different times in the past. This is essential if you are keeping computerised consultation notes, but still a very good idea even if you are not. It is also useful in the event that you have to look at what your data file looked like several years ago.
The historical backup must contain everything you need to open the data file. For example, if you want to open a data file from two years ago, you will need to open it in the same version of Genie that you were using two years ago.
On a Macintosh computer, you should archive the following:
- Genie – the single user application (lamp with black cord)
- Images folder
On a Windows computer, you should archive the following:
- The Solo Application Folder from within the Genie folder.
- Images folder
Once you have made an historical copy of your data file, make sure you are able to open the data file and verify that it contains the information that you expect. This way you can be assured that if you need to review the data in the future that you can open it successfully.
Once you have made a backup, make sure you are able to open the data file and verify that it contains the information that you expect. This way you can be assured that if you need to review the data in the future that you can open it successfully. A verified backup simply means you have confirmed that the file can be opened and that it contains the information you would expect it to have.
It is important to note that the Genie data file can only be opened in the version of Genie it was backed up from i.e. the datafile from v9.0.6 can only be opened using version v9.0.6 applications, this includes both Solo and Sever.
You can contact us to obtain the relevant installer files required to restore a backup. If you find yourself needing to restore a backup, you can follow the steps in our How to Restore a Backup article.