Foremost, we must understand that your normal system back up and restore will not give you the best tool (zip file of your database) to restore to a new computer in the event of a loss. Even if you back up your entire computer to Carbonite, SOS, an external drive, or some other external location, you cannot easily restore your database without an ACT! back up file (zip file generated from within ACT!). An ACT! back up file is generated in a different manner than a regular back up, and from within ACT!
ACT! has built in security features preventing just anyone from copying your database, thus an ACT! user with the User Role of Administrator is the only one who can back up and restore a database on a new computer. You should back up ACT! from within ACT!, manually or in an automated manner on a schedule.
By default, ACT! will back up to a Back Up file on the same drive and within the same file path as your database. This makes it easy to find, however, there are certain times where this could go wrong. For example, if your drive crashes, your laptop is stolen or lost, or the building burns down with your computer inside, (if you have no off site or independent copy of your back up,) your back up goes with it and thus your back up does you no good.
Personally, I believe in and I practice redundancy. I live in the "Redundancy Department of Redundancy"!
First, to back up manually:
1. From the File Menu in the top, left of your ACT! screen, select "Back Up" and "Database".
2. A default Back Up file location will show. If you wish to change this, browse to your desired location (flash drive, external drive?) This is where you can rename your back up too.
3. Leave "Include Attachments" checked if you wish attachments to be included, and do not check Password protect file unless you wish to do so.
4. Once you have made your desired selections, select "OK" to proceed.
Second, automated back ups: ACT! has a Scheduler which you can set to automate your back ups on a schedule such as every day or every week.
1. From the Tools menu, select "ACT! Scheduler".
2. This will open a window where in the top, left, select "Create a task".
3. Browse to find the .pad file for the database you wish to back up. Select it, then type in the User name and Password, then Next.
4. Select the Task "Database backup" from the pull down. (At this point, you also have the option to run Database maintenance which I always set to run prior to each backup, but that is another topic.) Select Next.
5. The default settings are usually best: Leave "Include Attachments" checked if you wish attachments to be included, and do not check "Password protect file" unless you wish to do so. Select Next.
6. Select the quantity of backup files you wish to keep. Someone once told me that when you make a copy of something and that copy is damaged, you better have a second copy. Another case for the "Redundancy Department of Redundancy": I stick with the default of "Keep only the last 5 backup files." Again, select Next.
7. Now set the desired days and times: Do you want a back up every day? Every week? How often do you work in your database? How much are you willing to lose?
8. Once you decide, select "Finish".
* While we want to set it and forget it, the integrity of this process must be monitored! To check, go back to the ACT! Scheduler (Tools menu) and select "View Task Log" from the list on the left. Check this regularly and if it's not working as intended, change the settings, call me, or somehow, someway... find a solution!
Ok, that covers "either/or", but it's not completely the "Redundancy Department of Redundancy". Here's what I do:
1. Automated back ups via the ACT! Scheduler on a daily basis, each day around 3am (I'm usually not on my computer at that time ;-)
2. I check the ACT! Scheduler task log at least once a week to make sure it's all working properly.
3. I use SOS online backup that backs up my entire system every day, which should pick up my backup files from the automated backup.
4. I back up ACT! manually at least once a week to a flash drive that lives in a fire safe.
By protecting my database, I protect my ability to communicate with my clients and I protect my income. What's the value of your client base, and what are you doing to protect it?