Backup Verification

(Note: This was written for TMG 7 although it also applies to TMG v6.x and v5.x and the process is similar to that needed for TMG v4.x and earlier versions.)


Okay, so you are running TMG with your project and are doing backups periodically.  Also, the backup is stored in another building on a CD or other media.  This means that you are protected from any computer crash, right?  Well, maybe!!  Now, suppose that you have a computer crash and get a new computer.  All you have to do is re-install TMG on the new computer and do a Restore of your backup.  But when you try the Restore, it doesn't work.

Why does this happen?  Well, there may be any of a number of reasons.  It may be that the old computer had a bad alignment in the drive that recorded the backup and it doesn't match the new computer.  It may be that the media on which the backup was made was bad.  It may be that the media went bad over time.  Whatever the reason, you have probably lost all your data and hard work.  If you are lucky, you may have an older backup that works, but you will still have lost at least some data.

How can you prevent this tragedy from happening?  In some rare cases, you can't.  That is the reality of computers.  However, you can take steps to reduce the situation to only the very rarest of cases.  You need to periodically verify that the backup works and that the Restore function works properly.

This verification is easy.  All you do is take that backup and do the Restore process.  BUT, you do not want to restore the backup into the same place that your project currently is located because it will over-write the current project .  Then if something goes wrong, you will have lost the data unless you have another good backup.  So what you want to do is do the Restore to a different folder. Of course, this is not really a problem if you do the restore on a different computer.  In such a case, then you may want to adjust the folders below as best suits your needs.

The verification process on the same computer would be something like this :

        Assumptions:  The project backup file is located at:                   D:\TMG Backup Files\
                              The restored (verified) project will be at:             C:\TMG Restore Test\Project Name\
                              The backup process was based on the default Backup Project Configuration
                                         Note:  Substitute your own drive and folder names as appropriate above.  The Backup may be located on a hard drive or some
                                                     removable media (CD, thumbdrive, etc.).  Experienced computers users would say that each project (including any temporary
                                                     project such as for verification) should be located in separate folders (one project per folder) to reduce the possibility of
                                                     intermingling project data. While this may not be a critical normally, you should be sure to have the verification project
                                                     folder separate from the regular project folder in case a problem exists with the backup file being verified.

1.    Start TMG as usual. 

2.    When the Welcome window appears, click on the [Restore...] button.
          Note.  I select (Preferences=>Startup) to display the Welcome window each time as this allows me many options including the selection of a different project if I wish.

3.    Choose the backup file to restore, and click the [Open] button to display the Restore Wizard.

4.    You may wish to select a different Configuration (see the last section below), but that is not essential and may not be desired (see the note at step 10 below).
          Note:  If you wish, you can create a new Configuration and save it allowing you you to simplify future tests like this.  See the next section. 
                     The rest of this section assumes that you accept the default "Restore Project" configuration.

5.    Click the [Next>] button to go to Step 2 of the wizard.

6.    Check that the Backup file field has the right backup file (e.g., D:\TMG Backup Files\....SQZ).

7.    Change the "Restore project to this folder" option to the verification folder as above (e.g., C:\TMG Restore Test\Project Name\)

8.    Click the [Next>] button.

9.    If the "Restore To" folder contains an earlier copy (restored backup) of the same project then you will be notified that "You're trying to restore a backup over your existing data!  Are you sure that you want to continue?".  At this point, you should review the "Restore project to this folder" to ensure that you have the correct "verify" folder in that field.  If you are sure that it is okay then click on the [Yes] button.  Otherwise click the [No] button to go back to step 6 above.
       Note:  You also need to make sure that the "Restore To" folder is NOT the same as the regular project folder.

10.   Change any options that you wish in the next Step(s), clicking the [Next>] button each time and then click on the [Finish] button to start the restoration.
         Note:  Remember that Exhibits, Advanced Items (Language translations, Timelines, etc.), and Program Items (Layouts, Toolbars, Configurations, etc.)
                       would be restored back to their original  location and not into the restore validation folder selected above.  Thus they would be overwriting the
                       files.  In all probability, this is not necessary.  The purpose of the validation is to check that the backup worked and the backup media
                       (removable disk, CD, etc.) is good (e.g., can be read).  Thus if the project can be restored, it is likely that the remaining files can also be
                       read.  There is a slim possibility that only part of the backup is good that the "untested" part may be bad, but this would be even more rare
                       than a overall bad disk.  Thus, I suggest that you may wish to de-select the items that you "don't need to check".  This not only speeds up the
                       restore validation check, but reduces the interaction that you have to make during the test.  The end result in the Options step is that only the
                       Project data files, Accents and Filter need to be selected

11.   TMG will attempt to restore External Exhibits, Advanced Items, and Program Items to the folder where they were backed up from.  Thus, it will try to write these files back over the original files.  You will be asked if you want to overwrite the files and may choose either of four options.  You may choose any that you wish, but I recommend the "[No to All]" option. You will be asked about the overwriting for each group of these files.
Note:  This will only occur if you selected to backup and restore these items.  If you did not choose these options in the Backup, skip to Step 12.

12.   TMG will display that the Restore is complete to which you should click [OK].

13.  TMG will then continue to open to the restored project but this is now a COPY of the original.  You can now look at a few random people to check that everything is okay.  I would recommend checking one or two persons that you have most recently added or changed.  If everything looks good then you can be fairly sure that your backup file is good.  I say fairly sure because the only way to be absolutely certain is to verify each piece of data.  This is rarely worthwhile and usually a waste of your time.

14.   The following is optional, but will eliminate problems from mistakenly working with the wrong project

    A.  Select to close the restored project (File=>Close Project).

    B.  Delete that restored project (File=>Delete Project).

    C.  In the "Select a Project to Delete" window, find the project that you just restored above, highlight it and clcik the [Open] button.

    D.  You will be asked to confirm that you do want to delete the named project.  If it is the Restored verification project above, then click on the [OK].  Otherwise click on the [Cancel] button and you can start over above at step A.

    E.  TMG will again ask if you are sure.  Again, if you are sure, click on the [Yes] button.  Otherwise click on the [No] button and you can start over at step A.

    F    TMG will at this point delete the project and notify you.  Click [OK] to acknowledge the notice.

    G. Now you may select to open another project or some other operation under the File menu.  I usually select to open the SAMPLE project.  Then I can open the File menu and select my most recent regular project from that menu.

Creating Restore Configurations

As noted in step 4 above you may choose to create a special Restore Configuration that simplifies future verification tests.  The following would be how that would be done.  You would do this once, the first time you run the verification after you decide to create the special configuration.

1.  Do steps 1 through 3 above.

2.  In the Restore Type step of the Restore Wizard, click on the save as new configuration option and enter the name of the new configuration, I used "Verify BU Configuration".

3.  Continue with Steps 5 above as usual.

Then the next time that you do the Restore for verification, when you are at Step 4 above, be sure to choose the "Verify BU Configuration."  This will automatically have the restore go to the selected folder and any other options that you chose.  Thus the verification process is made easier. 

A similar process would be followed for creating any other Custom Restore Configuration.

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