Backup Basics for Your Practice

Help protect your practice data by following this simple advice.

Encryption ransomware. Data corruption caused by an update. Accidental deletion. Hardware failure. Fire, flood, and other natural disasters. The causes of data loss are numerous, and anyone who has experienced data loss knows just how important backups are. But while you know you need to have backups, do you know how many backups you need and how often to make them?

Currently one of the most common causes for needing to restore from a backup is encryption ransomware, commonly referred to as crypto viruses. This malicious software typically infects a workstation through an email attachment, and encrypts all of the important and irreplaceable data it is able to find, on the local system and other systems available across your network, including servers. Once encrypted, it is impossible to decrypt the files without purchasing the encryption key. The only real options are to restore from backup or pay the ransom. And when the ransomware predates your backups? You’re stuck paying criminals to unlock YOUR data.

If you’re backing up regularly, what would make your backup insufficient in this situation? The most common cause is unintentionally built right into the backup process. Let’s examine a situation our support teams have come across more than once.

“Dr. Smith’s” office runs completely paperless, with digital practice management software and digital X-rays. Both of these databases are housed on a server in the back, and the office manager runs a backup every night, always on the same external hard drive. Monday evening, the backup is run as usual. Tuesday afternoon, someone at the front desk opens an infected email attachment, and the virus goes to work. Tuesday evening, the backup is run as usual, and Wednesday morning the staff come in to find a warning about their data being encrypted, and all of their software is down. The backup from the night before is useless because it, too, is infected.

How could this or other similar data loss situations have been avoided? Here are some tips for avoiding data loss situations like the one above:

  • Use multiple backup drives to accommodate a daily rotation for the days of the week you are open, plus a monthly and a yearly backup. Having multiple points in time to restore from is the best way to make sure your data is well protected in case of disaster or corruption that goes unnoticed.
  • Always store the most recent backup drive offsite. Having key drives offsite, away from an environmental disaster like fire or flood, is a protection against a full data disaster.
  • Add an offsite or cloud backup solution as a backup to the onsite backup. The best practice rule is to have at least three copies of your data: the original (your server), a local copy stored on a hard drive or other storage device, and an online storage service.
  • Check your backup software logs frequently to make sure your backups are running successfully. There is nothing more frustrating than thinking you have a good backup, only to find out your data is gone. Make it part of your routine to make sure the backups were successfully completed.

How often you create a backup directly affects how much data loss you will sustain in the event of a failure requiring restoration from backup; if you only run backups once a week, you’re exposing your practice to losing up to a week of data. What’s your data loss comfort level? Make sure your backup solution is in alignment.

Why Not Get Professional Help?

Making sure your backup solution is robust enough to help protect your practice’s data is complicated, and it’s easy to get lost in the details. Henry Schein TechCentral can help. Their trained field technicians and certified technical support staff can help you tailor a backup solution to your practice’s needs.

TechCentral offers consulting services, maintenance and support programs to keep your critical business systems running.

Learn More

To learn more about TechCentral support and maintenance options, call 877.483.0382, option 1, or visit

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Some of the product(s) and/or service(s) described herein are provided by a third party. Henry Schein, Inc. and its affiliates (“HSI”) make no independent assessment of the content and descriptions provided by such third party, and this content does not constitute an endorsement by HSI. HSI is not responsible for, and expressly disclaims all liability for damages of any kind arising out of such third-party products or services.

By Martin McCarthy, Sales Engineer, Henry Schein TechCentral

Originally published in Dentrix Magazine, Spring 2016