Some stories Jon Walker would rather not tell, in this heart felt plea he describes why and how backing up your most critical data is important.
Not a month will go by without an email appearing along the lines of "I dropped my laptop out of a moving car and now it's in tiny pieces, how can I get the data back?", or the other slightly more common "I got a virus and it destroyed all my data, how do I get it back?".
After the sympathy, we've all been there, comes the inevitable question, "Did you backup?". The response is either a face full of tears as they shake their head slowly, or a slightly happier question "Of course! How do I restore the backup?!".
Please don't be the one shaking your head and backup your files. If you're like me and always forget then create an automatic backup, so they are backed up every day or week depending on how much data you can afford to lose.
In iMagic Inventory it's quite easy to perform a manual backup, from the menu select File/Backup Database. You can then save the copy of the database on a different PC, or removable device like a USB stick, burn it to a DVD or even better use an online backup service to save the file. (If there is a fire then the backup could be destroyed along with your PC.) I personally use http://www.ibackup.com, just because they're easy and pretty cheap.
iBackup basically creates a new hard drive for you but it's located on their server. So all you need to do is copy the files you want backed up onto it over the internet and then you'll have a copy stored remotely. Easy.
To restore a backup in iMagic Inventory is quite easy, rename the file back to db.mdb and copy it into the Database Folder. To find the Database Folder launch iMagic Inventory and from the menu select Help/About and click "Database...".
A note here! Older versions of iMagic Inventory stored the database folder within the "Program Files" folder (usually "c:\\Program Files\\iMagic Inventory"). This was fine on Windows XP and earlier, however if you're using Windows Vista or above (so that includes Windows 7 and Windows 8) then Windows doesn't allow you to store files in the "Program Files" folder.
On newer systems the database folder is c:\\ProgramData\\iMagic\\iMagic Inventory. Since it's a Windows System Folder it will most likely be "hidden". An easy way to jump to the folder is to launch iMagic Inventory, select from the main menu Help/About and click "Database", then click the "Database Folder" link - it'll open the folder for you if it's hidden or not.
It's much easier to schedule a backup than manually select File/Backup Database each time. In this case you'd get the PC to remember to backup the files on a regular basis and just report to you if there is a problem.
Windows does have it's own internal "Backup" program, called originally "Windows Backup" and in Windows 7 it's fine (I still need to check the Windows 8 one). You select the files to backup and choose an external drive. It will then copy the files on a schedule for you. But it can't easily backup to a remote server.
There are lots of other alternatives though that have different features, a popular alternative that is easy to use is Handy Backup which seems to work well.
Another (!) option is to backup your entire hard drive, this isn't possible using Windows Backup, you'll need a special program for it. The advantage here is that it will save your installation of Windows, all your installed programs and everything else. So in theory you can restore the entire hard drive and not have to worry about re-installing each application which can take a while.
For this there are several options, I've used Acronis True Image before and it works OK http://www.acronis.com/. Is it overkill? Well perhaps.
The way Acronis works is by making a copy of the entire hard drive (not just a few files). The resulting copy is called an "image" which is just a single file. This can then be copied to an external device as before. The issue is that it takes up a lot of space, so you'd need a dedicated backup drive and some patience for it to do it's thing.
But please if nothing else just backup your Database File to an external USB drive. Hard drives do fail!