Backing Up and Restoring Microsoft Access Databases

It’s never been easier to back up and restore MS Access database files.
If you’re managing a few dozen gigabytes of electronic data, you can find effective, sophisticated backup software for well under $100(US).
Corporations, nonprofits, and larger enterprises can find cloud-based database backup solutions that will manage huge files affordably and reliably.

Why, then, do we read horror stories every month about businesses that have lost database files that cannot be recovered? It’s because many businesses don’t use common sense when planning and implementing their backup and restore regimens. By following some fundamental business practices, you can minimize the chances of losing critical Access files.
Here are tips from the experts at DataNumen, Inc.:
Plan Your Backups

Develop a plan to create backups for all of your mission-critical data.
Assign the responsibility for backing up Access files and other critical information to a specific person or team. Insist that they keep comprehensive logs that specify exactly which files were backed up, how large they are, and where the backup files have been stored.

Test Your Backups

At least once every six months, test the backup files to ensure that they work properly. Large companies should restore their backups onto a clean machine or a clean partition, and give the restored files a rigorous test.

From time to time, the restoration process will fail. Reasons for failure include power fluctuations during the backup process, physical damage to the CDs or DVDs used for data storage, improper handling of the storage media, and factors that simply cannot be identified.

Sometimes databases cannot be restored because they were not created properly. If you didn’t set the parameters properly when backing up the data, then the files can never be fully restored. Only by testing the backups regularly can you identify this type of structural problem.

Create Multiple Backups

Don’t rely upon a single set of backups for your mission-critical files.
Run your backup software multiple times and create multiple sets of backup CDs or DVDs. Keep one set locked in a cabinet in the office, and maintain another set of backups off-site. Even if you’re using a cloud-based data backup service, ensure that you have multiple sets of backup disks in at least two separate locations.

Manage Incremental Backups

It’s usually not necessary to back up every database and every critical file every week or every month. Instead, you can create a backup of all of your important files at the beginning of the month, and do incremental backups on a daily or weekly basis.

With incremental backups, restoration takes more time. First, you have to restore the initial backup file. Then you have to restore every daily (or weekly) incremental file until the restored file is completely up-to-date.

For most companies, backups happen regularly and often, while restorations happen rarely. Incremental file backups can save a lot of time during the backup process. To avoid potential problems during file restoration, however, be sure to create a full backup at least once a quarter.

Keep File-Level Repair Tools Handy

If your Access database was corrupt when you backed it up, it’s going to be corrupt when you restore it. In these cases, your backup and restoration software performed properly. But you’re left with a damaged Access file that needs to be fixed.

Be sure to have an application such as DataNumen Access Repair installed on your computer so that you can immediately identify and restore any damaged .mdb or .accdb files. Having the proper Access recovery tools already installed can mean the difference between keeping an important customer happy or losing that customer to a competitor.

Alan Chen is President and Chairman of DataNumen, Inc., the world leader in data recovery technologies, including Access repair and SQL recovery software products. For more information visit

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