MLS Backup Location

Discussions around using and interfacing with the Church MLS program.
danpass
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MLS Backup Location

Postby danpass » Mon Dec 10, 2007 9:21 am

A ward clerk recently commented to me that it was sure nice to not have to insert diskettes in the computer anymore, now that MLS was backing up to the hard drive.

:confused::eek:

It appears that if someone neglects putting media in the drive when MLS is about to do its backup, MLS will default to saving the backup file to the local hard drive. I think that this is probably the right thing for MLS to do because it at least makes sure that a backup got created. The problem is that from that point forward, until told otherwise, by default, MLS will continue backing up to the hard drive and not prompt for the insertion of the removable media for subsequent backups.

On further investigation, I found other units who had gotten into the same situation and were no longer backing up to removable media. In each case they had assumed that this was a new "feature" in MLS.

A change to MLS might be in order. In the event that the backup file is about to be written to non-removable media, the user should be warned that in the event of a hard drive failure, their backup could be lost. Then encourage them to save the backup elsewhere.

maethows
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Postby maethows » Mon Dec 10, 2007 9:38 am

It might be good to have a message sent out to all units that reminds them of the importance of backups in general. I don't know about other units, but our computer has quite a bit of stuff on it other than MLS. Anything of importance should be backed up to removable media.

Given the low cost of USB flash drives, they would be an excellent replacement for backup floppies. A general procedure a ward clerk might follow would be to copy the contents of "My Documents" and the MLS backup directory to the USB flash drive on a weekly/monthly/etc. basis.

What about storing the backups offsite? If there was a fire where the contents of the clerk's office were lost, then any backup media stored there would be lost as well.

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Skyhawk-p40
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Postby Skyhawk-p40 » Mon Dec 10, 2007 10:20 am

mfellows wrote:It might be good to have a message sent out to all units that reminds them of the importance of backups in general. I don't know about other units, but our computer has quite a bit of stuff on it other than MLS. Anything of importance should be backed up to removable media.

Given the low cost of USB flash drives, they would be an excellent replacement for backup floppies. A general procedure a ward clerk might follow would be to copy the contents of "My Documents" and the MLS backup directory to the USB flash drive on a weekly/monthly/etc. basis.

What about storing the backups offsite? If there was a fire where the contents of the clerk's office were lost, then any backup media stored there would be lost as well.


Backups can be kept on the hard drive for easy access, but that does not diminish the need for an external copy as well. In the Handbook (p. 140), it says that a backup should be kept externally (in the bishop's office, etc.). I agree completely with the flash drive idea - much more user friendly, faster, and relatively inexpensive. As far as storing offsite, the Handbook refers to this on page 141, about the stake tech. specialist. There needs to be a copy of each backup stored offsite, and the STS is responsible for overseeing that.

Hope that helps!

wadeburt
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MLS Backup Location

Postby wadeburt » Tue Dec 11, 2007 8:24 am

You are correct. The General Handbook of Instruction, which we review weekly, states the Stake Clerk should ensure backups are kept offsite.

I currenlty have 3 sets of USB Drives for each unit. One hangs in a cabinet in the Stake Clerk's office, one is at the local unit in their locked file cabinet, and a third goes with the High Counseolr assigned to that unit. On High Council night, the HC gives his drive to one of my assistants, who checks in the drive and gives him the one in the cabinet. A log is kept.

The Assistant then copies that backup to the Stake MLS computer. This serves 2 purposes: Verifies the backup got written to the drive, and gets all the Stake files in one location.

I back the Stake computer up to a USB Drive and take it to my home where it is stored in a safe. Next issue is to get the Stake President used to the idea of taking the backup home with him and bringing it back for rotation each week.

This way, we are achieving onsite, offsite, and redundant backups. It has been quite successful.
Wade E. Burt
Gallatin Ward High Priest Group Leader

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bhofmann-p40
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Postby bhofmann-p40 » Thu Dec 13, 2007 1:35 pm

Having the back up on the hard drive severely limits the amount of situations you could recover from. I agree it is a bad idea to default the back up to the hard drive. It would be better if MLS defaulted to external media every time and allowed exceptions to the hard drive.

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Postby maethows » Thu Dec 13, 2007 2:39 pm

bhofmann wrote:Having the back up on the hard drive severely limits the amount of situations you could recover from. I agree it is a bad idea to default the back up to the hard drive. It would be better if MLS defaulted to external media every time and allowed exceptions to the hard drive.


This all depends on what you are planning for.

1. MLS needs the database loaded or reloaded for some reason - Most likely
2. The computer crashes and the data on the hard drive is not recoverable - Less Likely
3. The clerk's office and/or the building is destroyed along with everything in the clerk's office - Even less likely
4. All buildings within the unit are destroyed - Why are you even worried about the backups?

The backup solution needed for each of the above would be:

1. Local hard drive.
2. Removable media. Location is irrelevant.
3. Removable media. Must be located offsite.
4. Once again, why are you even worried about the backups?

From personal experience, having backups on the hard drive is extremely convenient for the majority of troubleshooting I have had to do. We have yet to lose a computer, but it's still within the realm of possibility, so copying those local backups to removable media on a regular basis is a good idea. If you have local backups, then the location of the removable media copies won't really impact your typical troubleshooting situations, so just designate someone (bishop, clerk, stake clerk, etc.) to be the caretaker of the offsite storage.

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Postby fraserredmond » Thu Dec 13, 2007 4:59 pm

Maybe this is just here in New Zealand, but I believe our local admin office has backups that they can send us if needed.

mfellows wrote:1. MLS needs the database loaded or reloaded for some reason - Most likely
2. The computer crashes and the data on the hard drive is not recoverable - Less Likely
3. The clerk's office and/or the building is destroyed along with everything in the clerk's office - Even less likely
4. All buildings within the unit are destroyed - Why are you even worried about the backups?


If thats the case, then having backups stored on the computer makes the most sense to me, as it lets me deal with the first problem. With any of the other three problems, having a recent backup is going to be the least of my concerns. (E.g. for problem 2 I think I could get a CD with the backup on it sent within 3-4 days, but getting a new computer would take weeks or months.)

I think its better to focus on finding ways to make sure any backups at all get done. To that end the 3 flashdrives per unit, followed up by the stake was a good idea (except for the big weak point being the high-councillors :D)

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Postby thedqs » Fri Dec 14, 2007 8:55 am

mfellows wrote:4. All buildings within the unit are destroyed - Why are you even worried about the backups?


You were filling in financial information but had not yet finished so you backed up and then the computer dies. - Very, very unlikely.

Also people might not want to type in again all the home/visiting teaching assignments or leadership positions (I do not know if those are included in the CHQ backups) when you finally get back on your feet.
- David

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Skyhawk-p40
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Postby Skyhawk-p40 » Fri Dec 14, 2007 10:25 am

mfellows wrote:From personal experience, having backups on the hard drive is extremely convenient for the majority of troubleshooting I have had to do.


I agree that keeping a backup on the hard drive allows easier and more ready access. Keeping a backup on the hard drive is fine - there is no problem with having extra backups in secure locations. But do not make that a substitute for the policy already in place (again, an external copy in the bishop's office and another one offsite, per the direction of the stake technology specialist).

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jeromer7
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Another scenario

Postby jeromer7 » Fri Dec 14, 2007 12:59 pm

The previous discussions haven't said if the MLS HDD backups were to the C: or D: partition (admin computers went to dual partitions with Desktop 5.5). I see issues if you are counting on C: backups, but they are addressed, at least partially, if you use the D: partition.

I have a large HDD with multiple partitions on my computer at home. For various reasons, I've had to restore my C: drive (just one partition of the phyiscal drive) three times over the past year or so. I keep all my data on the F: partition and was able to access it after every C: restore. I realize this will not account for a total HDD failure, so peridoically I also backup my F: partition to an external HDD.

Based on my personal experience and for some of the reasons mentioned in previous posts, I use D: for MLS backups. I also make use of flash drives so all my MLS eggs are not in one basket.
JLR


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