In part one of this series, I explained the changes I would make to the default backup schedules installed with FileMaker Server—the “what”. Now I want to take a moment and explain the “why” and clarify some points about my recommendations.
- 23 Hourly Backups – The Hourly schedule is set to keep 23 hourly backups at a time. Why not 24? Because the most recent Daily backup is the 24th.
- 6 Daily Backups – For the same reason, the Daily schedule is set to keep 6 daily backups. The most recent Weekly backup is the 7th. These steps conserve the disk space for two backups.
- Verification – Why verify? Because the worst thing to happen to a database is to lose data. Verification checks the integrity of the backup and can send an email if the database is damaged. In most cases, if the backup is damaged it is likely that the live database is too. This is your early warning system.
- Hourly Verification – If your database is small to medium (500MB or less per file), you can probably verify each hourly backup without much impact on performance, depending on your hardware. If it does create an intolerable slowdown, disable it for Hourly only and leave it on for Daily and Weekly.
- Cloning – Why clone? Because if your database is damaged, depending on the degree of damage, you may need to recover the database. Having a pristine clone (structure without the data) makes it easier to restore a healthy database because you can usually rule out damage to the structure with a good clone.
- Drive Size – The default location for backups created by schedules is the FileMaker Server/Data/Backups folder on the boot drive. It is common for boot drives (or partitions) to be fairly small (40GB-ish), especially on Windows or virtual servers. Storing 33 backups (23 + 6 + 4) can fill up the boot drive quickly. Make sure you do the math to ensure you have ample drive space.
- Backup Location – A better idea is to store the database backups on a separate drive or partition, usually with much more drive space. On a Windows server this could be the C drive for the OS and FileMaker Server, and the D drive for the databases and backups. (Using a third E drive for the backups is even better). This also helps increase the speed of the backup process.
- Archiving Backups – Making backups of the database to the local hard drive is not enough. You need to use backup software (outside FileMaker Server) to make copies of the backups to another location. Some options include tape drive, external hard drive, network volume, or even offsite. In a larger organization, this will probably be the responsibility of the IT group.
- DO NOT Backup the Live Database – The database hosted by FileMaker Server is available 24×7, meaning the file is always open. Backing up an open file is a no-no, especially with databases because it can corrupt the live database and the backup. Configure your backup software to exclude FileMaker Server/Data/Databases (home of live databases). In addition, do not:
- Use Time Machine to backup the live databases
- Use “snapshot” technology on Windows to backup the live databases
- Enable virus scanning of the live databases
- Enable file sharing on the FileMaker Server/Data/Databases folder
As you can see, having good backups of your FileMaker database requires several considerations. Hopefully, these tips will make your backup plan more safe and reliable. In coming articles, I will discuss email notification and offsite storage for your databases.