Backup Guide - Creating Manual and Automatic Backups

This section details how to create Manual and Automatic Backups on your Server computer.

A MacPractice Backup can only be created on the MacPractice Server. For automatic backups to be created on the server computer, the computer must be powered on and cannot be set to sleep. The MacPractice database must also be running. If the computer is not powered on and active, the backup will not be created.

MacPractice does not support creating backups on a Network location. If you need to store backups on the network, we advise that you write a backup to a location on the Server computer, and then once the backup is successfully created, you can then move it to a location on the Network.

Steps to take before you can create backups

There are a few steps to address prior to creating backups to ensure you don't run into any issues.

Setting Privileges in MacPractice

Users must have the correct privileges to create a MacPractice backup. These privileges can be managed in the References ability under the User Group Privileges node. Enable the following privileges for the user group that will be responsible for backups management:

  • Access Preferences
  • Allow Backup Database
  • Edit Backup Preferences
If any of the above privileges are not enabled, the user group will be unable to create a backup or adjust information in the Server Backup Preferences. Enable the privileges for any user group that will need to create backups. Once this is done, you'll simply need to ensure that the User in question who's going to be managing backups is set to use that User Group in References > Users. For more information on how to adjust user privileges, please refer to User Group Privileges.
macOS User Settings

You'll want to review and assign the correct User Group permissions for the MacPractice Server computer users to ensure the proper levels of access are assigned to each user. The MacPractice Backup files are only accessible to an Operating System user who is a member of the macpractice_backup user group. To edit the system users, select the Apple menu in the upper left corner of the screen, then select System Preferences followed by Users & Groups.

Click the lock in the lower left corner of the System Preferences window to make changes to the groups. Enter the computer administrative username and password. This is the username and password for the computer, not MacPractice.

Next, select the macpractice_backup group and check the box next to any computer users that should create or view MacPractice backups on the server. Click the lock icon and close the window to save the changes.

Creating a Manual Backup 
To create a Manual Backup or create an Automatic Backup Scheme, navigate to the MacPractice Menu > Preferences, and locate "Server Backups" in the Preferences Sidebar.
Click on the Back Up button in the lower left of the Server Backup Preferences window. This will open a prompt indicating where you'd like to save the backup. By default, this will be located in /Library/MacPracticeBackups. From here, you can select a new location such as an External Drive if desired. When satisfied with the backup location, click the Save Backup button. This will begin creating a full backup of your MacPractice database.
MacPractice does not support creating a backup on a Network drive.
Configuring Automatic Backups
By default, MacPractice should have a default backup configuration with a fresh database. However, we strongly recommend that you review and configure an automatic backup to meet your individual practice's needs. A good standard time that we initially advise is each day at 2:00 AM (provided the server computer is powered on, the MacPractice Security Password has been correctly entered, and the computer is not set to sleep).
By default, backups are written in /Library/MacPracticeBackups, although you can configure automatic backups to be written to any path.

A new backup scheme can be created by clicking the plus button, or click the minus button to remove a backup scheme. With the Enabled checkbox checked, a backup will be created at the selected location at the scheduled time and days. When this box is unchecked, the indicated backup scheme will not run.

The Source column determines which portion of the database will be stored in the backup. For most practices, you'll want this set to All, as this will back up the entirety of your MacPractice database.

We recommend creating at least one complete (All) backup every day. 

Additional backup schemes can be created to backup either the database or attachments separately, but partial backups (data or attachments only) include only the selected portion of a backup. For example, if a database only backup is restored, no attachments will be restored.

  • Database: All MacPractice and patient data, but no Attachment data.
  • Attachments: All images files in MacPractices Digital Radiography/Imaging and Attachments/Images, but no MacPractice and patient data.
  • All: All information, including data and attachments.
The Backup Path is the location where automatic backup will be saved. Edit the backup path by double-clicking on the Backup Path line. Select a new location.
While a single backup is able to restore your database in the case of a failure, if your primary hard drive that houses the MacPractice database is compromised by hardware failure or other unforeseen circumstances, any backups stored could also be rendered unusable. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that you have two backup paths configured at minimum; one on the MacPractice server, and one on an External Device.
The Max Backups column indicates how many backups will be housed at the indicated location for this backup scheme. For example, if this column is set to "5" for a backup scheme that runs Monday thru Friday, then MacPractice will house a total of five backups, one for each day a backup was generated. When the number of backups in this location exceeds the Max Backups number, the oldest backup will be removed in favor of the newly generated backup. Due to this, if you want to retain a backup from a particular time frame (such as the beginning of the year), you will need to manually move that backup file to a separate location to avoid losing it.

Warning: If no maximum number is determined, MacPractice will continue to generate backups at the scheduled times until there is no more space on the hard drive. This can cause all kinds of operational problems for your server computer, so we strongly recommend setting a maximum number.

Backup Schemes should never be configured to run at the same time and day. Creating a backup taxes the server resources. Multiple backups should never run simultaneously. If multiple backup schemes are created, adjust the time to allow one backup to start and end before another backup starts. For example, if a backup starts at 6:00 PM and the backup takes at least 30 minutes to complete, set the next backup to start at 7:00 PM. This would allow the 6:00 PM backup enough time to complete before starting the next backup.
For detailed information on Server Backup Preferences, please refer to Preferences - Server Backup.
For detailed information on encrypting your backups, please refer to Backup Guide - Encrypting your Backups.
How do I fix issues with my backups? will assist with common troubleshooting steps, or you may call our technical support team with any questions. 
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