AutoCAD backups

Save. Backup. Restore.

If you have ever lost a file (or a folder) you probably have come to realize pretty quickly that backups should be part of your normal way of life.  Hopefully, you live in an environment where all that is handled by a network administrator.  However, for those of you who don’t have that luxury, or are the network administrator, we need to cover some ground rules.

First al all, backups should occur nightly.  Of course this comes down to preference, but I’ve found that trying to run a real-time all-the-time backup tends to slow down the server a lot, leading to slow file access.

Second, backups should be maintained.  I recommend about a 2 week backup history, and a monthly history.  You don’t want everything, but having regular snapshots of the work in progress can save a lot of headache if something gets lost.  The last two weeks is recent enough to help for any minor oops get projects back on track, and the monthly is more of a record-keeping practice.

Third, project backups should occur at major revisions and maintained separately from the nightly backup.  Each project should have a person designated to maintain a backup of project documents.  For smaller projects that get revised frequently, backing up on a monthly basis should work too.  The backups should contain digital deliverables, and all files necessary to create them (databases, models, reference files).  I recommend putting these on a DVD, as well as a backup location on the network. 

While creating backups with the built-in Windows backup is tempting, per recent personal experience, I recommend against it. I had backed up the videos I used to create the P&ID video series using NtBackup on XP.  In August, I upgraded my computer to Windows 7.  Low and behold, Windows 7 can’t read the XP backup!  Although it was relatively easy to locate and install a service pack to fix the problem, I don’t like the possibility of not being able to read my backed up files. Since then, I’ve done all my backups using 7-zip, a handy program that lets you create/open zip files, and which provides an even more compressed format (.7z).

In addition, you can use batch file commands with 7-Zip, and there is even a 7-zip .net extension which works decently (SevenZipSharp) both are good options for automation.

With Seven Zip and my current favorite Ftp software (WinSCP), I’ve been able to schedule automatic backups of our website, and then download them automatically to my computer every couple days!

On the personal backup front, I’ve liked using Carbonite for our home computer.  For $55 a year, I have unlimited backup capability.  Having the backup run every night is the way to go, as the live backup tends to slow the computer down a lot.

How do you make sure you’re protected from data loss?