Backing Up Your Data

To backup your data, you must be logged into the computer or server where the data is located.  You must have administrator privileges on that server.  This can be done by physically sitting at the computer or using a remote access method, such as terminal services.

Though computers seem to be very stable, there is a 100% guarantee that your computer or it's hard drive will fail.  You just don't know when, so you need to constantly keep it backed up.

If you have Imaging Assistant, you must back up your Imaging Assistant separately.  Backing up Advisors Assistant does not back up Imaging Assistant.

Backing Up Your Data Overview

If you are using our Web Hosted System, see Hosted Database Backups.

Advisors Assistant contains a self contained backup program which takes a snapshot of the database at the time you back up.  It is designed for use by those who want a quick way of backing up their Advisors Assistant database.  It is not as sophisticated as backup programs which are designed specifically to backup SQL Server which can cost thousands of dollars.

Other users do not have to be logged out of Advisors Assistant during the backup operation.

The backup must be run from the computer's console that contains the SQL Server database.

The person running the backup must have administrative privileges on that computer.

What You Should Know About Backups

Here are 9 facts that you MUST know about backing up your data.

1.Most backup systems that you buy for your computer or server will not backup open files and files in use.

2.SQL Server files can remain open even when no one is connected to them because SQL Server runs as a “service” on your network.

3.Typical backup systems will not backup SQL Server files.

4.Backing up Advisors Assistant does not back up Imaging Assistant or your documents stored in Imaging Assistant. (Pertains to Imaging Assistant Users only.)

5.With Advisors Assistant you can make a backup file of your database from your server.  It will create a BAK file which will be closed at the end of the backup and then the file will be zipped with an encryption password.  These files will get backed up by your typical backup program.

6.If you use an Internet backup program, check with their technical support to see if: (a) they backup open files; and, (b) do they backup SQL Server files.

7.Do not make the Internet backup your ONLY backup.  It should be a second line of defense.

8.Do not store backups on your desktop or even on the same computer.  If that computer fails, then you can’t get your backup.

9.If you store a backup of your entire computer on an external USB drive, use 2 drives and always keep on off site.

10.It’s only a matter of time before you have a hard disk failure.

How Important Is Your Data?

Over the 25+ years we have been in business, we have heard many stories.  Here is a little summary by the type of mistake made:

I Thought I Had A Backup

You really need to be sure you have a backup.  You can accomplish this by:

1.Set your backup program to verify the backups.

2.From time to time, restore some insignificant file from a recent backup.  Have your IT person do it if you are not comfortable doing it.

3.Be sure you are backing up your SQL files either by using Advisors Assistant to backup to the zip file and letting your server back up program subsequently back up the zip file created by the Advisors Assistant backup utility.

My Backup Was Stolen With My System

Take the backup off site.

My Backup Was On My Hard Drive That Failed

Always backup to a different media.

I Relied On My IT Person

It isn't his data.  Maybe he just knew the jargon.  See "I Thought I Had A Backup" above.

I Didn't Need A Backup Because I Had Raid Drives

... and they burned up with my computer system.  See "My Backup Was Stolen With My System."

I Was Backing Up To The Web But It Skipped My Database File

When back up programs skip a file, they will write a message to a backup log.  Be sure you inspect the logs once a month.  Also, set the program to send the log to your email address so you won't have to go looking for them.  Most programs will send either the log or a list of skipped files to an email address.

I Was Having System Problems And Many Files Did Not Backup

If your disk has bad sectors, backup programs will often just skip the file.  They will put the entry in the log. (See the topic above.).  The built in Advisors Assistant Backup Utility will stop and leave an error message on the screen if it cannot complete a backup because of a bad sector, so you will see the message.

Every one of the situations above has been experienced by our users and they can easily be avoided as long as you:

1.Don't trust any one backup.

2.Don't trust any one backup media.  Never back up onto the same disk or thumb drive twice in a row.  (See the "Good Rules..." below.

How To Backup Advisors Assistant

Go to the server computer or log into it through some form of remote computing.

1.Log into the server as an administrator.

2.Click on Start | Programs | Advisors Assistant | Database Backup and Restore.  The program will start and the Backup / Restore Tab will be selected on the Advisors Assistant Server Utilities Program.

3.If this is your first backup, click on preferences.  We recommend leaving the Temporary file path as C:\temp, but you may want to change your Default Backup Path to the location of your backups.  Click on OK after setting preferences.

4.Click on the Backup Database Button.

5.Check the location where you are putting the backup.  The backup will be named based on the date, but you can change the name.

The backup will be created by SQL Server and then it will be zipped using the password option you select.  The zip encryption is strong, but you need to know that it can be broken if someone knows how.  Key identification data is also encrypted inside the database, so items such as Tax ID, Passport numbers, etc. are double encrypted in the backup.

Here are some good rules for backing up:

Backup at least once a week. Once a day is recommended.

Take the backup off site. If you don't take your backup off site at least periodically, and your office burns down, your backup will burn down with the office.

Never backup on the same media twice in a row.  Media can easily fail and take all of your backups with it.  We recommend rotating through at least 5 media (disks or USB sticks) and labeling them Mon through Fri.

There are commercial backup systems which are designed only for Microsoft SQL Server.  They are more elaborate than the backup included with Advisors Assistant (and also more costly.)

Restoring will replace the entire database and it will not preserve changes subsequent to the backup. You cannot restore part of your database.  Restoring the Advisors Assistant backup is all or nothing.

Archiving Backups And Errors And Omissions

One of the best protections against law suits is to have good notes about what you said to a client or to have an email archived with your instructions or review of a client's situation.

These notes can be stored in Advisors Assistant but you may want to protect yourself against someone accusing you of changing the notes.  Even if you don't have direct access to change a note, such as an archived email, a clever programmer can access the database at a programmer level and add a "not" to a sentence without leaving a trace.

However, copying a backup to a CD or DVD which is "Write Once" (a typical CD or DVD you buy at any store for about 10 cents) can be an effective way of proving that an archive existed at some point in time, especially if you have a series of backups on CD over time.  CD's and DVD's cannot be modified once written because the data is physically etched in the media.

Advisors Assistant creates an encrypted ZIP file which can be copied to a CD or DVD on regular intervals, such as weekly or monthly.  These CD/DVD's can be kept off site in a safe location.  If you want to take an extra step, send one to your attorney for him to keep from time to time.  If you ever needed to prove that a note was unchanged, the backup could be unzipped or restored to Advisors Assistant by a third party and the archived note can be compared with your current note.

Backup Reminder

Advisors Assistant has a reminder that will pop-up for System Administrators only, to remind you to backup your database. The reminder has a snooze button to allow you to snooze the reminder for a selection of time periods. If one system administrator snoozes the backup reminder, it will be snoozed for all other system administrators.



Backup daily.  Take a backup off site.  Do not use the same media for all your backups.  Rotate through at least 5 sets of media.  Do not elect the 'No Encryption' option for your backup.


Do not rely on only one backup method.  If you have a program that backs up your entire server, use the built in Advisors Assistant backup periodically as a secondary method.