Tips for scheduled database backups

Develop plans for restoring data, including alternate sites and systems to run business-critical information services. A current backup can help you recover from a situation where someone loses the administrator account information for a file, or where user error (and sometimes poor database design) causes data to be deleted or modified inappropriately.

  • Host databases with FileMaker Server and create regularly scheduled, automated backups.

    Don’t use third-party backup software on hosted FileMaker Pro databases. First, use FileMaker Server to make a backup copy of your database, then run your third-party backup software on the copy. Backup software can damage open, hosted databases.

    For example, make local backups of files at 6:00 AM, 9:00 AM, 12:00 noon, 3:00 PM, 6:00 PM, and 11:30 PM weekdays. At midnight, make a backup of the entire system (excluding active hosted databases) to the enterprise backup system. Finally, Friday night at midnight, perform a full system backup, excluding active hosted databases, or stop the Database Server during the backup.

    Copy and store the backup media at a remote location. This way, if the server goes down for some reason other than catastrophic failure of multiple drives, the more recent backup of the data files can be used, meaning a maximum of three hours of lost data. If there is a catastrophic drive failure, then you can use the previous evening’s backup media, minimizing the loss to one day’s data.

  • In the backup schedule, you can select Verify. After a backup is complete, FileMaker Server performs a consistency check, confirming whether the backup file is internally consistent. Enabling this option can detect errors in the backup file. However, backup operations that have this option enabled can take much longer to complete and may slow other activities on the master machine.
  • In the backup schedule, you can select Clone to save your backed-up file’s tables, layouts, scripts, page setup options, and field definitions without the data. You can possibly import the data from a damaged database into a clone of the backed-up database.
  • Make sure backup copies aren’t damaged or inaccessible. Verify that they are functioning properly before you need them. Run diagnostic tools on your hard drive and your backup files regularly.
  • When you need to work with a backup file, always copy the file first. Never edit a file in a backup directory and never move a file out of a backup directory. Leave the original backup file unchanged in the backup folder. Do not use FileMaker Pro to open the database file that is stored in the backup folder.
  • Ensure that you can restore an entire set of files from backup copies.
  • Regularly export the data to protect against file corruption.
  • Protect the backup media. Store backups in a separate fireproof location.
  • Assign backup administrators who can retrieve files, in case the network administrator is unavailable.

Warning  In the event of a server failure, such as an unexpected loss of power, hard drive failure, or software failure, use the backup files. Any system failure causing FileMaker Server to shut down inappropriately can result in corrupted files if cached data was not written to disk and the files were not closed properly. Even if the files reopen and go through a consistency check or recovery, corruption might be buried in the file. File recovery cannot guarantee that problems have been fixed. For information on recovering damaged files, see FileMaker Pro Help.