When it comes to protecting your practice you carry insurance to protect the building and your practice. Now I want to protect all of your valuable patient information. I don’t want to scare anyone, but many offices are not recognizing that they have eliminated their charts, they have no film Xrays and no written ledger for their financial information. All of that extremely valuable data is hanging out on that big expensive computer we call the server. The average life span of a server hard drive is about 5 years. There is also nothing to stop the data from being fried by viruses, memory corruption, power failure, floods, fires and tornadoes.
If this scares you or concerns you it probably should. I have been there at the bad side of this situation countless times. When I have to call a doctor and ask him do you have a backup? There was a failure in the RAID array and bad data was written and corrupted your Dentrix folder making it unrecoverable.
The conversation went downhill from there. Because the data was corrupted and not an actual hard drive failure the options of data recovery were minimal. There was no backup. I went to Dentrix to rebuild the database but the file itself was pretty much non existent.
The path to recovery was sad and unhappy and I had a very upset client, but someone had him setup with a online data backup service that never fully backed up the file. (By The Way-Online Backup Services are a great way to save your data to backup just make sure you check it some time because it is important, but you need to make sure it is working)
So lets give this a go. Backing up your data and being sure of it should not be a headache. These are the steps I would suggest.
- Make sure your hard drive is mirrored in your server. Meaning that your hard drive is setup in a RAID 1 configuration where everything written to one hard drive is immediately written to a second hard drive. RAID 5 is also an option but a severe overkill in complexity and expense for a dental office. This is your first layer of protection and the best way to stop your practice from shutting down if one of your hard drives fails.
- Pick a good and inexpensive online backup solution for your office. I would utilize this for backing up your practice management data, but it can become costly to back up digital x rays and intraoral imaging online because over a period of 5 years you could have up to 35Gb of data which also can be time consuming to download after a failure. I am not saying it won’t work, I just don’t think it is the best solution.
- Go out and buy 3 external hard drives large enough to backup the maximum capacity of your server hard drives so that no matter how full they get you don’t have to buy new drives. You could use windows backup or several other good software backup programs. Schedule the backup to run at night and rotate the drives daily. This way you always have the previous days backup off site with you.
- Check your backups. This is the last step but the most important one. I have been in many offices where they thought their technician had done everything properly and I get the backup in my hand and find out it hasn’t run in months or in one case it was simply not backing up the correct folder or the file was locked during the backups and never backed up. So the last step is the most important one for your office. Make it a rule that at least once a week you are going to check your backup and that it is just as important and making sure the water is turned off when you leave at night and the doors are locked.
I am not a doctor and don’t work on people, but I hope I saved a practice today.