Backups

Mandala features automated  database backups. Setting the correct backup configuration should be a priority in any new site install.

Backup is divided into 2 main areas of functionality:

  • Local (network) backups
  • Online backups

Configure backups from the server. And importantly, all backup activity must be activated server-side. Client terminals cannot create backups. To reach the Backup configuration tab, click on the Settings toolbar button:


And then click on the Backup tab:

Local backups

At the very least, you need to set the primary backup location. Note that the primary and (optional) secondary paths must start with a drive letter.

If you want to back up across the network to a different machine then map a drive letter to the domain path you require. For example, you might have a backup server called //backup on the domain. To save to this location, you would need to first map a drive letter (say Z:) to point to this location. In such a case, your backup path would begin with Z:\.

Backup frequency: How many hours between each new backup. 4 is about right. Behind the scenes Mandala will save the backup file named after the hour it was created and stored in a folder titled by the creation day. This means that your backups will begin to overwrite each other after 1 week. This gives you a lot of options for database recovery without having to worry about running out of storage space.

Primary backup: This is a mandatory setting. If this is blank, Mandala will attempt to backup in the installation folder, which you don’t really want. If you click the mouse on the primary backup field, you will see a little browse box appear in the far right of the field. Click this to browse to your backup location. Choose a rock-solid reliable destination, preferably the same machine the server runs on so as to reduce the risk of network error. It is presumed you will also backup this destination to tape every night.

Secondary backup: Optional. This should either be to a separate machine on the network, a different NAS storage device, or something as simple as a humble USB flash drive. A 1Gb flash drive will have plenty of space for all your backups.

Online backups

This is the default backup method as it automates your offsite storage needs and so “fireproofs” your Mandala site install. Note that online backups also create local backups in the primary and secondary locations discussed above. So if your internet drops out, local backups will still be fine. Online backups will occur at the frequency set above.

Online backup debug window: This is very useful for troubleshooting problems with online backups, or to simply reassure yourself that the system is working correctly. I would advise you keep this ticked. Then when you manually run (ie double click) the MandalaBackup application provided with the server installation, a status window will open displaying online backup activity. Note that two instances of MandalaBackup cannot run at the same time, so be sure to kill off any existing processes (such as one created by the task scheduler) before running MandalaBackup manually.

Your online backup web destination will have been preset for you by Mandala admin.

Security

All backups are stored encrypted, using a strong encryption algorithm. Please see this page for more information on digital security.

Backup recovery

All the backups in the world would be pretty useless if you didn’t have an easy recovery method. The Mandala server install contains a standalone application, MandalaRecovery, designed to decrypt and restore your backed up databases. If your database is totally fried (perhaps due to hardware failure) and you can’t run MandalaRecovery, then contact me and I will be able to help out. If you are the fearless, independent type, you may find instructions on how to perform this magical feat here.

The bottom line

To get backups running quickly with as little thinking as possible:

  1. Configure frequency, primary backup, secondary backup and tick the backup debug window box. So you have something very like the image above.
  2. Ensure that the application MandalaBackup (included with the server install) is started every time the server boots. This can be as simple as dragging a shortcut into the startup folder, or (much better) creating a scheduled task at system startup.

You can check the online_backup_log.txt (located in User/Documents/Mandala) if you need extra information about what is happening behind the scenes.

Ensure that the application MandalaBackup is auto started every time the server boots.