LightSpeed 3.7 – New Backup System!

LightSpeed Server's New Backup Panel

LightSpeed Server’s New Backup Panel

According to the release notes, LightSpeed 3.7, “…Implemented a new backup system designed to be faster and that is capable of managing backup files.”

I have yet to test the speed but just looking at the LightSpeed Server control panel and we can see some major changes have occurred.

I’ve complained many times about the fact that LightSpeed’s ‘backup’ system really wasn’t a backup but instead, should have been called an ‘archive’. This is because LightSpeed versions prior to 3.7 didn’t really backup your data… it simply created a copy and stored it on the same hard drive as your real data. This would be more accurately described as an archive because if your hard drive were to fail, you would lose both your real data and your so-called ‘backup’.

Furthermore, industrial strength, off-site backup tools (such as Background Backup) which expect to find a new version of the same file each night, end up finding an ever-growing folder of large files to backup as new archives were named differently and simply dumped in a folder. This is what would also cause your hard drive to fill up to the point that your computer would cease to function!

I’m happy to report that with LightSpeed 3.7, all of this has changed!

The first major issue is that backup features have been moved out of the LightSpeed Client and into the Server. While some may be confused by this, it’s a good move as it eliminates the need to login in order to check on and perform backups. This is great news for me as I often will need to do this for clients. I asked for this a while ago and it seems that either someone at LightSpeed listened or we’re simply of the same mind… maybe great minds do think alike? 😉 My new request (if anyone is listening) is to pull the ‘Current Users’ feature out of the Client and into the Server as I’d like to be able to check to see if anyone is logged in before rebooting the server.

Single File Backups! Instead of filling up your hard drive with an endless number of backup files, LightSpeed’s new backup system overwrites the same backup file every time. With a single file of the same name, we can now employ backup systems that are made to remember old versions of files (such as Background Backup or Time Machine).

External Backups! That’s right… you may now choose an external hard drive as your backup destination each night. This is huge improvement as this turns LightSpeed’s backup feature into a true backup and not just an archive.

Where Are My Photos?! Excluding photos from your nightly backup will speed up the time it takes to create the backup file and the time it takes to back it up off-site. But don’t we want our photos backed up as well? I’d like to say how disappointed I am with the ‘exclude photos’ option. Photos should be kept in a separate directory that can be backed up by normal means but instead we’re simply given the choice to include them or not. This is a huge disappointment given the exciting new changes to LightSpeed’s backup system.

Improved Scheduling! You can now create up to four scheduled backup times. Personally, once a day has always been enough for me but if it’s not filling up my hard drive with backup files anymore then why not do multiple backups every day?

Smart Backups! Clicking on the ‘Learn More’ link for this feature directs you to LightSpeed’s home page instead of their Backup Help Page. A little searching in their help database will find that if Smart Backups are enabled, LightSpeed will create the following folders to store backups… in addition to the single nightly backup:

  • Daily Backups Contains the last 7 days of daily backups
  • Weekly Backups Contains the last backup from each Saturday for the current month
  • Monthly Backup Contains the last backup from each month of the current year
  • Yearly Backups Contains the last backup from each year

In summary, this new addition to the LightSpeed Server is a welcome change that has been a long time coming. If we could just get access to our product and customer/supplier photos in a format that allows us to back them up like normal files instead of being included in the database, we’ll be all set. Sadly, I think this feature didn’t make it into the release and my hopes are that we’ll see this added soon.