Tech Savvy

Does Your Backup Strategy Have the X-FACTOR?

backup strategy

Whether you host your Open Dental Software on a server in your practice or in the cloud, it is imperative that you have a comprehensive backup strategy. And don’t forget – this is also a requirement for HIPAA compliance.

Does your backup strategy have the X-Factor?

While there isn’t one specific element that makes or breaks a backup strategy, there are some key components every backup plan should have. Use the acronym FACTOR to make sure your backup plan is complete and effective.

backup strategy

Determine how much data you can afford to lose, then base the frequency of your backup on it. Here at Open Dental, we backup our data every 15 minutes. Talk with your IT to set up automated backups at the frequency that’s best for your practice.


Automate your backups to eliminate the possibility of human error, or missed backups if the responsible party is out of the office for some reason. Back up the data to a high quality encrypted USB flash drive, use an online backup service (like Central Data Storage), or ideally, both (to cover Automated, Complete, Offsite and redundant).


Ensure your backups are complete, and include all the information you need to restore your data. This includes;

  • \\SERVER\mysql\data\  – The database that stores your patient data.
  • \\SERVER\OpenDentImages\  – The A to Z Folders that store files you scan or import. See Data Paths.
    NOTE: The paths shown above are the default install paths. Since these can be changed, please have your IT or the person in your office who set up the server verify the correct path where these items are located.

Test your data by restoring it to a computer that is not part of the office computer network: a home computer, for example. Test it regularly to ensure the backup is complete, restorable and retrievable.


Store one of your redundant backups (like an encrypted USB flash drive) offsite. Even if you are using a service to back up your data, you should still create a backup that is stored offsite. This backup will be a lifesaver if you experience a fire or burglary, or if you have service interruption with your online service.


Having redundant backups is essential. An online backup service will usually have system redundancy in case part of their system experiences an issue or outage. Even if you have an online or other automated backup service in place, make a redundant backup onto an encrypted USB or something similar, it will be like an insurance policy that protects you in the event that your other backup method fails.

Each month, Open Dental pops up a reminder and asks you to answer some questions about your backup strategy. We do this because, quite simply, we know how catastrophic data loss can be. When we get a call from a practice who has experienced data loss for whatever reason, a complete and recent backup helps us quickly restore them back to full operation. A comprehensive backup strategy means peace of mind – for you and the patients you care for.

Questions or concerns about your backup strategy? Talk with your IT organization to implement a comprehensive plan today, and sleep better tonight.

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