Backup of Accounting Data

Special care must be taken with the backup of accounting files. Unlike typical word processing or spread sheet files, accounting files are extremely difficult to replace - something that is not fully understood by many computer technicians. A backup strategy that has been designed to handle general computer needs often does not serve the special needs of an accounting application.

A common backup strategy is daily backup of all computer programs and data to an external hard drive. Should your computer stop functioning, repairs are made and information on the external hard disk is reloaded. This works fine for most word processing and spreadsheet files. A full computer backup is made each night, but as each new backup is begun, the prior day's backup is erased. Unfortunately, this constant erasing of the prior day's backup is not appropriate for accounting applications.

Accounting data sometimes must be restored from a backup that is several days old. Data may have become corrupt, with the corruption not being recognized right away. When the data corruption is discovered, the best action is often to restore from the last good data backup - not the most recent backup. Another situation that occurs with accounting software is the need to reload data in preparation for an audit. Sometimes needed information has been purged. In this case the only way to retrieve the desired data may be to restore from a backup that is months or years old. It is difficult to reliably store these accounting backups of various ages if the only method of backup is a hard drive. To reliably store multiple accounting backups removable media are needed.

A common backup method that uses removable media is the tape drive. A dozen or so tapes are rotated as daily backups are completed. The advantage of using multiple tapes is that data of various ages can be retrieved as the need arises. Unfortunately there are also some disadvantages to using tapes. One disadvantage is that it can be difficult to find the needed accounting data. Suppose you want to restore last Thursday's accounting. To do this you'll have to search Thursday's tape, sifting through perhaps 1,000's of files, to find the accounting data you are looking for.

Many people look to CDR or DVDR for their backup needs. There are advantages to CDs and DVDs, but unfortunately they are not especially reliable or easy to use. For example, a backup produced on one computer will often not be able to be restored to another computer.

So what backup method is left for accountants and bookkeepers? The answer is USB Flash Drives. These drives are very reliable and are as easy to use as a floppy or Zip Drive. Plug the drive into your computer's USB port and then in Peachtree choose File / Backup. When you come to Peachtree's backup window, working at the top of the window, be sure to browse to the icon for your flash memory before starting the backup. By the way, if your USB ports are hard to reach from your desktop, consider purchasing a USB extension cable or USB expansion box. This will allow you to add or remove your flash memory without straining to reach beneath your desk.

Keep your data on several different flash drives so if you need to restore from different days, that will be possible. In other words, rotate your backups and save your work to a different flash drive each day. It's a good idea to have between 5 and 15 flash drives in your rotation. When you go home for the day, take the flash drive you just backed up on home with you. This way you'll have an off site backup.

While it is not suggested as a replacement for flash memory backups, an additional way to backup your accounting and the rest of the data on your computer is the Internet backup provided by www.Mozy.com. Mozy.com is a secure and safe way to backup to the Internet. Their service is even certified as being secure enough for medical records.

Mozy.com offers a free account for up to 2 Gig of data, which is plenty for any Peachtree user. Their backups are conducted when your computer is idle and they only backup files which have changed, so your files are backed up automatically and quietly in the background in fact, you'll hardly know their system is running. After each day's backup is completed, you'll be notified that the backup was successful by a popup box. Click the link above to visit their website and decide for yourself. Consider giving it at least trial using their free 2 gigabyte service!