Why back-ups should be front of mind

It may be the end of a long day, but the inconvenience of backing up your files is nothing compared to the problems that can result from lost or corrupted data, says Debbie Birkett, office manager at Barnett & Turner. How often do you back up your Sage data? What if I said you really ought to be doing it every time you use the package?

It may sound like overkill but, in the business world, your accounts information is just too important for you to sit back and cross your fingers. Once you get into a routine, you’ll probably find that the back-up process isn’t really that arduous at all.

A common issue is that data can become corrupted over time. Errors creep in. At some point, you’re likely to recognise the problem, but you then need to be able to return to the last ‘clean’ files. Although Sage has a special department which can try to resolve corrupted data, there are no guarantees and the process could cost you significant sums of money.

If you’ve been backing data up, you just need to keep reverting until you reach the point where the files are without errors. At least you then have a starting point for reconstructing your figures and don’t need to begin again from scratch.

Another thing worth bearing in mind is that Sage will prompt you to conduct a data check when you back up. I strongly recommend that you do this, as you get a snapshot of the data integrity and the system will highlight any potential problems. There’s not much point, after all, in backing up data which is already problematic.

So what role should accountants play in all this? It’s certainly true that when there’s a crisis, clients will often go to their professional advisers and ask whether they have kept their own back-up. You may be lucky, but the reality is there’s no obligation for the firm you retain to be doing this kind of work on your behalf.

My advice is therefore to back up to a memory stick, external hard drive or to a server. And once you’ve completed your back up, it’s always worth browsing to the destination and checking the files really are there! You can even try restoring them if you want absolute peace of mind, just to make sure that nothing would go wrong in the event that you needed to re-import them in an emergency.

Increasingly, of course, there are more options to back up in the cloud, via services such as Google Drive and Dropbox. While this is undoubtedly useful, it may be that you’ll feel most comfortable having the data copied locally too. In the world of IT, a belt and braces approach is almost certainly best.

If you would like to discuss anything related to this article please do not hesitate to call Barnett & Turner on 01623 659659 or email Jonathan at jwilson@barnettandturner.co.uk