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15 Tips for Preventing Data Damage


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Troubleshooting flow chart + worksheet

How to troubleshoot damaged data

Database myths

Causes of data damage

How to repair

How to export/import

Troubleshooting FAQs

Tips for preventing damaged data

Inside the database

Database size

Windows tips





1 Don't shut down any computer (or force C&P to quit) while Clients & Profits is running, especially if you get a padlock cursor.

Getting a "padlock cursor" means the record you're saving is in use by another user. When the record is available, the padlock will disappear and your changes will be saved. The only safe way to quit C&P is to choose File > Quit. This logs users out of the database on the file server.

2 Don't restart or shut down the server while people are using C&P.

Anything users are editing or saving will be lost, and the data files they were using can be corrupted.

3 Use Database Utilities to pre-size the database.

Pre-sizing reserves a chunk of space on the server hard drive just for the C&P database. By allocating this space, the server won't fragment the sectors around the database. The file size will appear very large, but it's simply free space for new work.

4 Keep the C&P database on a dedicated file server that's optimized for databases.

Keeping the database on a separate admin file server means C&P users won't be slowed down by creatives copying graphic files. Also disable any screen savers or energy savers. When using a Windows NT server, disable "opportunistic locking" and set the server to be "balanced". (See Windows Tips.)

5 Use a large UPS to protect from power problems.

Unstable electrical power can cause data loss in unpredictable ways. A UPS replaces the surge suppressor to provide power that's free from surges, spikes, and dropouts. The UPS' battery gives you enough time to backup the data.

6 Use a RAID configuration on the file server.

RAID subsystems ensure that data is saved more reliably (and often faster) in high-volume environments.

7 Watch for disk fragmentation and other drive problems.

Disk fragmentation is a common cause of corruption, since it causes data to be saved erratically. Bad disk blocks also decrease the stability of the database. Tools like Norton Utilities should be used weekly to find and repair disk problems before they become dangerous.

8 Don't let the server's hard drive get too full (always check for free space available).

A lack of contiguous free space on the drive can cause the end of the database to be corrupted.

9 Keep the server room cool.

Extreme heat can cause computer hardware (especially hard drives) to overheat, leading to data corruption.

10 Check the database's size monthly.

Track the database?s growth to keep from running out of space in the segment (it can?t exceed 256mb). (See Database Size.)

11 Enable VERIFY and disable the write-back cache in Windows XP

Both settings ensure that C&P data is being communicated completely to the server. (See Windows Tips)

12 Keep up with all new service packs, patches, and other fixes to the system software.

Usually these updates improve performance, but not every time. That's why it's important to test them first and be sure to have a back-up plan in case of incompatibility. You may need to quickly revert to the previous system.

13 Look out for wiring and other LAN problems.

Loose, frayed, or pinched cabling can cause intermittent data loss. Replace any old CAT 3 cabling with CAT 5 to prevent packet loss.

14 Upgrade the server as work load increases.

If the server is stressed, users will see more padlocks and delays, increasing the possibility that they'll reboot their computers thinking they're frozen or have crashed.

15 Back up the database nightly and verify that it works

Use a high-capacity media (e.g., Jaz, DAT, CD-R, etc.) with high-quality backup software (not Stuffit or WinZip) to make dependable copies of your C&P database. Remember to give the designated person enough time to backup the database every day, even if it means shutting down the network early. Be sure everyone quits C&P before backing up the database. Rotate your tapes for redundancy. And test the backups periodically by restoring a copy of the database.

Next Page: Common Causes of Damaged Data

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