Written by Jim High, Director – Existing Client Group, InterDyn Artis
Any application needs maintenance and knowing what to backup is the biggest challenge. Recently we had a client lose all of their Dynamics GP databases due to hardware failure. As we they were attempting to restore, they quickly learned that their backup jobs had not been running for some time. They were left with only one option, ship the hard drives off to a recovery specialist to retrieve the data. Fortunately, they ultimately were able to recover the data from the drives, but it took several weeks and cost about $25,000. This costly mistake could have been prevented by following the five steps outlined below.
Set up nightly SQL Server maintenance plan for your Dynamics and company databases. In addition to the backing up your databases, you can have the jobs run maintenance routines that help performance and prevent corruption. These are built-in features of Microsoft SQL Server and can be automated in the same manner as the backup jobs. These jobs can be configured to alert an administrator if they don’t complete for any reason. This is a proactive way to make sure your data is routinely saved to disk. Whenever possible, store your backups on a different drive array or physical device than the SQL data.
Have an offsite backup. The SQL Server maintenance plan is a great way to have backups readily available in case you need to restore from a recent backup. However, they don’t do anything to help if the server or hard drives fail. Having backups on the same drive or server as the data creates a single point of failure. In a catastrophic event, you could potentially lose everything. Make sure you have redundant backups in different physical locations to protect against this.
Make sure you back up all relevant files associate with Dynamics GP. Most people have a backup plan for SQL Server databases, but some do not understand everything that needs to be saved. Modified reports and forms (windows) are not stored in the Dynamics GP databases. These files are generally placed in a network share on the Dynamics GP server. The reports.dic and forms.dic contain the modifications to the standard reports or windows used in Dynamics GP. Almost every client has some modifications (invoice, check, purchase order, etc) to certain reports. These dictionaries do not contain data so they can be replaced, but it can be a costly exercise depending on the extent of the modifications. FRx reports are also stored in a separate Access database. You’ll want to include a copy of the Sysdata folder in your backup routine to ensure no formatting is lost during a disaster.
Document your environment. Dynamics GP data frequently falls between Accounting and IT groups. The problem is that when there is turnover in either department, this can create a knowledge gap about where important files reside. Most general IT people don’t understand the Dynamics GP file structure to know what to back up. So if a server is replaced or new integrations are created, it’s possible that some of the details will be missed and important files might not be backed up. The things to check on are SQL Databases (DYNAMICS and each login company database), FRx, Integration Manager mappings, SQL Reporting Services reports, . This documentation needs to be kept up to date as things are always changing. There will be new reports, integrations or window modifications as time goes on. So it’s just as important to update the document once it’s in place. Update your file after version upgrades or infrastructure changes to ensure the IT group knows to include all relevant files.
TEST YOUR BACKUPS. When was the last time you actually tested a restore from your backup files? Most clients do this very infrequently, if ever. You might go a year or more doing your normal routine of backups, taking tapes offsite, etc and never know if what you have will actually work when you need it. The only way to know if you have usable backup files is to test this periodically. This is especially true of backups that are put on tape, which can have bad sectors and may not be usable when you need them most. We recommend that people run a restore at least once a quarter.
By doing these steps, you should have some comfort to know that your Dynamics GP data is safe and you will be able to recover from a minor or major hardware issue when (not if) it happens.
If you want to learn more about how to ensure your data is safe, visit the InterDyn – Artis website on disaster recovery services . Submitted by InterDyn Artis, Microsoft Gold Certified Partner located in Charlotte, NC.
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