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Backing Up, Safely (Read 213 times)
Captain John
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Backing Up, Safely
Oct 9th, 2007 at 4:29am
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Performing Routine Incremental Back Ups
Contents


    * 1 Performing Incremental Back Ups
         o 1.1 Backing Up Specific Files On A Regular Basis
         o 1.2 Knowing Which Files To Download
               + 1.2.1 Checking For Server Time Correction
         o 1.3 Setting Up An Incremental Back Up
         o 1.4 Performing The Incremental Back Up
         o 1.5 Verifying That The Back Up Was Performed Properly
         o 1.6 Knowing When To Perform A Full Back Up Instead Of Incremental
               + 1.6.1 Knowing When To Perform A Full Back Up
         o 1.7 Knowing When To Perform A Semi-Full Back Up
         o 1.8 Knowing When To Perform An Incremental Back Up
         o 1.9 Tips On Extra Back Up Comfort


Performing Incremental Back Ups

No matter what size your forums are, you should perform routine, incremental back ups, in order to prevent serious data loss. This article will detail which files you should back up on a routine basis.

Backing Up Specific Files On A Regular Basis

There are a few directories that should be backed up on a regular basis. The amount of time between incremental back ups really depends on the size and activity of your forums. However, no matter how active your forums are, you should routinely back up the following directories:

    /cgi-bin/yabb/Members
    /cgi-bin/yabb/Messages
    /cgi-bin/yabb/Boards
    /cgi-bin/yabb/Variables


Knowing Which Files To Download

When performing an incremental back up, it is not necessary to download any directory in its entirety. You can actually save quite a bit of time by setting up your FTP client to download only new files, and only overwrite existing files if they have changed since your last back up. To find out how to set up your FTP client to do this, you will most likely need to consult the documentation that came with that software, as it varies greatly between clients. However, the concept behind the setting is the same in all clients that support this type of behaviour.

Checking For Server Time Correction

Before actually performing any incremental back ups, it is recommended that you go through a trial run first. Find a file on your server. Look at the date and time on that file (the "last modified" date). Download that file onto your harddrive, and see if that date and time changes. In many cases, the time will change by a few hours (forward or backward), which could cause you a lot of unnecessary headaches in the long run. In other cases, your FTP client will actually set the last modified timestamp to the date and time you download it onto your computer. Somewhere within your FTP client there should be a setting to correct this. If the time does in fact change, you will need to consult the documentation for your FTP client to see if it supports server time correction. Next, you should upload that same file back to your server (preferably in a new place). Check to make certain the time and date didn't change again.

Setting Up An Incremental Back Up

Once you have verified that the server time correction settings are correct, so that you won't overwrite your previous back ups unnecessarily, you can begin setting up your incremental back up. To do so, you will want to set up your FTP client to only overwrite existing files if the file in the destination directory has a modification date older than the remote file.

Performing The Incremental Back Up

Now that you have everything set up properly, you should FTP into your site and select the directories mentioned above. Then, choose to download them into the directory where you performed your last full back up. Your FTP client might ask if you want to perform a Smart Overwrite. If it does, then you should say "yes". Depending on your connection speed, and how active your forums have been since you performed your last back up, this may take a few seconds or it may take a few hours.

Verifying That The Back Up Was Performed Properly

Once the download is finished, you should take a look at the directories that you backed up, and verify that the new files were actually downloaded. In addition, you should verify that the files that have been modified since your last back up were actually updated. If not, you will need to take a look at your overwrite settings within your FTP client again.

Knowing When To Perform A Full Back Up Instead Of Incremental

There are certain times when a full back up should be performed instead of an incremental back up. There are other times when you will need to perform a back up somewhere in between the two. How do you know when to perform which back ups?

Knowing When To Perform A Full Back Up

Before you apply any mods to your forums, you should ZIP up your current back up directory on your harddrive and perform a new full back up. Once you have applied the mod, you should once again zip up that back up directory, and perform a second full back up. This will ensure that you can restore your forums from either back up very easily.

It is also a good idea to perform a full back up on a routine basis (once a month, once every six months). Before performing any full back up, it is a very good idea to ZIP up your older back up, and possibly burn it onto a CD, just in case you ever have the need to use it for anything.

Knowing When To Perform A Semi-Full Back Up

Before you make any changes to your forum (upgrading to a new version, adding a new template, changing images, adding new smilies, etc.) you should perform a full back up as described directly above. Once those changes are completed, you should perform a semi-full back up by backing up all of the files you would normally back up during an incremental back up, and backing up any files that you have changed/added.

Knowing When To Perform An Incremental Back Up

Obviously, you should perform an incremental back up on a routine basis, as discussed above. Any time a full back up or a semi-full back up is not recommended, you should be performing incremental back ups.

Tips On Extra Back Up Comfort

In order to make your back ups more effective, it is recommended that you actually perform two separate back ups of your forums, in two separate places on your harddrive. Then, when performing incremental back ups, you should alternate between updating each of those full back ups. This way, in case you perform an incremental back up after something on your forums has been corrupted, you will have a fall-back to restore your forums. As mentioned above, you should also perform full back ups on a semi-regular basis.

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