Offsite Storage of MLS Backups

Discussions around the setup, operation, replacement, and disposal of clerk computers, not to include using MLS
MattChan
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Offsite Storage of MLS Backups

Postby MattChan » Wed Feb 05, 2014 12:42 pm

Hi all

I am just wondering what experience you've all had of the above. As Stake Technology Specialist, one of our roles is to ensure MLS backups are done, and stored in a secure manner, off site.

I know there are many that don't backup. There are some that backup but on the same pc. And perhaps some do back it up off site, but unlikely entirely secure.

My first question, is it actually necessary to backup anymore from within MLS? Surely all the data in MLS is stored on church servers. If a PC was stolen, what would actually be lost?

If a backup is still necessary, what would you suggest? I've given it a little thought and my best solution so far is using TrueCrypt. For those familiar, I would think a secured container that fills the USB drive, along with an auto run of a .BAT file on there would do the job. The .BAT file would prompt the user to enter the password for the container file, and all backups go in there.

For me that ticks secure and off site. If the USB drive was lost (I anticipate this may be a problem), the data is still secure.

Does anyone have any better ideas and opinions on this matter?

russellhltn
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Re: Offsite Storage of MLS Backups

Postby russellhltn » Wed Feb 05, 2014 12:48 pm

From what I understand, the computer sends a full backup once a month during the send/receive.

However, I think by policy a local one still needs to be made. A backup on a USB drive seems like the way to go. You can add another layer of encryption if you wish - just make sure you can still find the key 3 years from now when you've forgotten the details and the meetinghouse burned down.
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RossEvans
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Re: Offsite Storage of MLS Backups

Postby RossEvans » Wed Feb 05, 2014 12:54 pm

You don't have to worry about encryption. The MLS backup files are already encrypted by MLS.

Our procedure has been:

  • Backup from MLS to the C: drive.
  • Copy that backup to a cumulative folder on a USB, which is stored in a locked cabinet.
  • Make another copy to a USB drive that is carried offsite, typically on the finance clerk's keychain since he is there for the most critical backups.

russellhltn
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Re: Offsite Storage of MLS Backups

Postby russellhltn » Wed Feb 05, 2014 1:07 pm

RossEvans wrote:typically on the finance clerk's keychain since he is there for the most critical backups.


Well, what used to be the most critical. I'm not sure that still true with CUBS.

But at least you know he will be doing something weekly, so that's probably still a the best plan.
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RossEvans
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Re: Offsite Storage of MLS Backups

Postby RossEvans » Wed Feb 05, 2014 1:43 pm

russellhltn wrote:
RossEvans wrote:typically on the finance clerk's keychain since he is there for the most critical backups.


Well, what used to be the most critical. I'm not sure that still true with CUBS.

But at least you know he will be doing something weekly, so that's probably still a the best plan.


Good point about CUBS. But MLS does still force backups upon exit whenever finance data changes. Many membership changes don't trigger a backup unless they side-affect finance data, IIRC. I have been out of this loop for a few months now.

And with respect to the original post, I think BAT files for copying are overkill and hard to maintain if, for example, the drive letters of the USBs change. When I was doing this, I just learned to drag the most recent few backup files from C: to the USBs (to be sure in case the last guy didn't copy) then answer No to the overwrite prompt if the timestamp of the USB file was within a couple of seconds of that on the C: drive. It only takes a minute.

russellhltn
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Re: Offsite Storage of MLS Backups

Postby russellhltn » Wed Feb 05, 2014 1:48 pm

RossEvans wrote:And with respect to the original post, I think BAT files for copying are overkill and hard to maintain if, for example, the drive letters of the USBs change.


It's possible to write a script that hunts down the drive letter. But yea, it shouldn't be that big a deal to copy it. It's also nice to eyeball what's going on. Just in case MLS decides to start saving things somewhere else.
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scgallafent
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Re: Offsite Storage of MLS Backups

Postby scgallafent » Wed Feb 05, 2014 4:46 pm

MattChan wrote:My first question, is it actually necessary to backup anymore from within MLS? Surely all the data in MLS is stored on church servers. If a PC was stolen, what would actually be lost?

russellhltn is correct that a backup is transferred to a Church server once a month. In a worst-case scenario, the service center could get a backup that would be at most a month old.

Membership data is transmitted to the Church servers during send/receive. The window for lost data there is fairly small. There are some records that are stored only in the local database (out of unit records, nonmember records) and are never sent to headquarters. Restoring from the month-ish old backup and then getting a unit data refresh would take care of most membership data.

Calling data is transmitted as part of a send/receive, so that window for data loss is also fairly small. Same procedure: restore from the old backup and then get a refresh and you would be fairly current.

Home/visiting teaching data is not sent, so the only copy of that data is in the backup. If you don't maintain a local backup and rely on the service center for a backup, you would potentially lose a month of data.

Gary_Miller
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Re: Offsite Storage of MLS Backups

Postby Gary_Miller » Wed Feb 05, 2014 6:04 pm

I use to back-up in three places
Once a week on exist after we processed the day financial batch.
1) to computer hard drive.
2) to a USB drive which was stored in the clerks file cabinet.

and

Once a month, usually the last Sunday, to a USB drive that I kept at home.

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johnshaw
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Re: Offsite Storage of MLS Backups

Postby johnshaw » Thu Feb 06, 2014 1:58 pm

The latest policy that came out explicitly declared that storing MLS backups cloud-based off-site is prohibited.

edited for clarification related to cloud-based storage of MLS backups
Last edited by johnshaw on Thu Feb 06, 2014 2:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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russellhltn
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Re: Offsite Storage of MLS Backups

Postby russellhltn » Thu Feb 06, 2014 2:02 pm

johnshaw wrote:The latest policy that came out explicitly declared that storing MLS backups off-site is prohibited.


Can you point that out? Because I've missed that. What I have seen is "4.8.4 The use of cloud-based services for storing and/or backing up MLS or any membership related data is prohibited." But that doesn't apply here.
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