Back to the Future

Consider the following scenarios:

You’ve just spent an hour merging duplicate records when you realize that the two ‘John Washington’ records you merged together were not actually duplicates, but father and son.

You updated the Giving Levels for all your donors, and then proudly shared the list with the director, who now clarifies that what they really wanted to see was last years giving levels.

You attempt to login to your database when you notice a scary-looking error message on your screen – something about a network connection? Yourwhybackup IT person is now standing at the door, speaking in what sounds like a foreign language, but you clearly hear the words ‘server crash.’

So what do all these scenarios have in common (other than raising your blood pressure)? The answer is that they can all be less stressful to resolve if you have a good database backup strategy in place.

If you find that you have unexpectedly or inadvertently lost or changed the data in your database through catastrophe, updates, merging or deletion, and then later realize that you need that data back again, the only way to ‘undo’ the change is restore a backup of your database. And the more recently the backup was performed, the less work you’ll need to do to recreate the ‘future’ that occurred between then and now.

So here are a few ideas to act on today to help minimize time-travelling wrinkles that may occur in the future:

  1. Know your backup processes and procedures. This could likely mean that you need to grill your IT staff (or your ResultsPlus Online Administrator!) to find out how often backups are made, where they are stored, and how to retrieve them if you need to. It might even mean that you need to create a strategy if you don’t yet have one.
  2. Don’t wait until a crisis occurs to test your backup strategy. Test it now. Pretend there’s a major equipment failure and you need to get back in touch with your donors quickly to request their help to get back up and running. And when you’re done with the test? Document all you learned and all the decisions you made because you will have just created a disaster plan specifically for your fundraising database. Your backup strategy is the backbone of your plan.
  3. Schedule any major data-changing procedures to occur when naturally-fresh backups are in place. If a backup is run every overnight at 3:00 AM, then you’ll have a fresh environment at the start of the next work day. If you do need to restore last night’s backup, there should be little or nothing to re-enter.

Take the time today or this week to learn more about and document your backup procedures. Next week we’ll talk more about how ResultsPlus can help you with these tasks – information that will make more sense if you’ve got a clear sense of your strategy.