TECH GUIDE - Online Backup for Sage Accounts
By Cloud Direct • 28 May 2014
Sage accounting systems have become one of the most popular software packages used by accountants and businesses in UK. Sage products help companies operate more efficiently in all areas of business and as a result have become key applications for many firms.
Having a solid backup plan for such a critical business tool is therefore of utmost importance. Consider the potential losses that could result from no longer being able to access your debtor list or details of unfulfilled orders!
There are close to 100 Sage products on the market – each with different features and purposes. Some of the most popular Sage applications in the UK include Sage Instant Accounts, Sage 50 Accounts, Sage 200 Financials, Sage Line 500 and Sage 1000. In addition, there are products such as Sage Act! and Sage Payroll.
How Sage stores its core data
Sage stores its data in different formats depending upon the version used. The data is stored in what is referred to as a Database – which normally comprises several files as you might see them on the computer’s hard drive.
Sage 50, perhaps the most commonly used version of Sage by volume, stores its core data in a folder called ACCDATA. The files themselves usually end with the extension ‘.sta’.
Sage backup files
Like most business applications, Sage has built in processes that produce a ‘backup file’ containing all the relevant information needed to restore the data should the live data be lost or corrupted.
Some Sage packages allow or prompt the user to perform a backup each time they exit the package e.g. at the end of each day. The user can decide what to call the file that is created and where it is located.
Some larger Sage packages do not prompt the user – mainly because any individual user cannot be sure others users in the company are still using the program at the time of backup. Thus an automated overnight routine would be established to perform the backup.
You might wish to create a folder to store Sage backup files only e.g. C:\data\sagebackup\
Sage backup considerations
One of the key considerations is how long the backup files should be stored for. This is often referred to as ‘backup history’ or ‘retention period’. When creating or saving the Sage backup files, a routine should be put in place to name the backup files sensibly e.g.:
Monday, Tuesday, etc...
January Month End, February Month End, etc...
2008 Year End, etc...
Do not over-write good data with bad...
A common mistake is to over-write the backup file each time. This might is expedient and might save space, but can be catastrophic. Often you might not be aware of a problem with the live database at the point the backup is made – perhaps some data has been deleted from it or some reports have become corrupted. So Sage appears to be working fine – but the problem lurking within has not yet manifested.
As soon as an automatic backup takes place, the previously made good backup is over-written by the now corrupt data – leaving you with two copies of bad data!
Online backup with Sage
Online backup can be configured to automatically backup data of a certain type and/or in a certain location. Thus, online backup can be configured to backup the folder containing your Sage backup files (all the versions). In the example provided earlier, you would backup the contents of C:\data\sagebackup\
Assuming the online backups are scheduled to take place overnight, then the backup process will secure the most recently created Sage backup file to secure off-site vaults, ready for recovery when needed.
Online backup versioning
Online backup services include their own version technology. This means that a single file (that you might see on a hard drive), is backed up each day and the previous versions are automatically stored on the data vaults even if they have the same name.
Using this feature can allow you to simplify the manual processes for creating the Sage backup files. Let’s assume the online backup service keeps the previous 30 versions of a file – you can use this to eliminate the need to create 30 different backup files (and remember to do it!) from Sage itself. You would simply create a standard backup file e.g. sagebackup each day – over-writing the same file each time.
When it comes to needing to restore from a version say two weeks ago, the online backup software will allow you to select the version of sagebackup from that date.
You might still decide to create a backup file for each month end to retain a longer history – for example just after you close off your accounts for the month.
Continual backup of Sage
Some larger instances of Sage may receive a high volume of transactions – perhaps in a call centre or online shop environment. With data changing all the time and with the value associated with sales orders for example, it may be worth considering real-time backup of Sage. This is often referred to as Continuous Data Protection or CDP.
Online backup that performs Continuous Data Protection (CDP) can be used to protect the core Sage data, allowing you to restore from as recently as 15 minutes ago, following a failure.
If this is of interest, please contact one of our consultants for more information.
Backing up the core Sage files
It is possible to include the core Sage files in the backup process – alongside the dedicated folder that contains the Sage backup files described above.
Assuming all users have logged out of the system, and assuming all files required have been selected for backup – this may create a set of data that can be used for recovery. However, databases can be complex and various files interact with themselves to produce the file information you see on screen.
Our advice is to include the core Sage files in the backup as a ‘belt and braces’ approach – but do not rely totally on these for disaster recovery. They may be useful to help restore a report template as an individual file for example – without having to restore the whole Sage database and all its transactions.
Help and advice
If you need help and advice in configuring your backup of Sage, please contact our Service Team on 0800 0789 438 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
One of our consultants would be able to help you select the right data, configure the backups and perform a ‘dry-run’ of a recovery process to iron out any issues before a real disaster occurs.
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