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Data backup 101 for veterinary practice owners

By June 22, 2021June 9th, 2022No Comments

Integration of technology in the day to day running of veterinary practice has resulted in workflow efficiency, better communication within a practice, fast processing of documents, improved relationships with clients and quicker response to clients. Tasks that used to take hours, weeks, or days to complete, such as getting instant X-ray results, are now delivered instantly to clients as soon as they are available.

However, with the advancement of technology in veterinary practice, a new challenge has also arisen, how to keep the data safe. Practice owners now realize the damage that data loss can do to their practice. Practice owners now agree that having a strategy on standby to mitigate the risks that come with data loss is a necessity, and many are now implementing complex backup systems to help them protect their data.

What is data backup?

Data backup involves copying or archiving files and folders with the sole purpose of restoring them in the future in case of data loss. It is a mitigation strategy that is implemented by many IT departments around the world to reduce the severity of data loss.

For practice owners, data backups are important because of the risks they face on a daily basis. Practices should be aware of the different ways that they can lose their data, such as through computer viruses that destroy files, ransomware that encrypts data and makes them inaccessible, fire, floods, hardware failures and thefts.

Type of data that practice owners should backup

Practice owners face the risk of losing massive data in case their workstations are compromised. Therefore, it is important for them to backup the following data regularly.

Documents

On a daily basis, veterinary practitioners use documents such as word processing and spreadsheets to do their work, keep records of clients and save important discussions of the practice. They also deal with financial reports, practice reports, transaction documents, email attachments and client reports.

In most practices, all this data is saved on local computers, and many practice owners know that there are risks involved in only having singular copies of these documents on a local workstation.

Without taking mitigation measures, these documents can easily be destroyed by fire and floods on the practice establishment, theft of the workstation, viruses that can take over your computer and format it (like ransomware), and also through hardware failures such as hard disk becoming faulty, thereby losing the entire documents of a practice.

Practice Management Systems

Practice Management Systems are the everyday software that practice owners and veterinary practitioners use for the smooth running of the practice.

A Practice Management System is responsible for managing employees’ details such as payrolls and personal information, financial records of the practice, delegating duties to employees, managing human resources in the veterinary practice, clients’ pets’ medical records and customer service.

These systems are mostly hosted on a network and veterinary practitioners are able to access them at request and depending on the level of management they are in, they are able to carry out different roles that are assigned in these systems. However, these systems are also at risk of data loss.

PMS can be compromised through the hacking of the network, access to the physical servers, which can result in shutting it off, deletion, editing, or creating new records that should not be in the system. Therefore, practice management systems should also be protected through data backup.

Medical records outside of the PMS

The veterinary practice also keeps medical records such as X-rays, dental records and ultrasound reports. All these records are also at risk of data loss, which can happen as a result of a fire in the practice establishment, flooding, hardware failure, or a computer virus and ransomware.

Practice owners realize how important this data is, and therefore, it is important to have a backup of these documents at all times.

Types of Backup

Practice owners looking to back up their data can use any of the three types of data backup strategies to keep their data safe:

Full backup

A full backup involves copying everything that is considered important and that must not be lost in case the source of the original data is destroyed. This type of backup contains the original copy of a document, databases or management system information. It is the most reliable method of backing up data available.

Incremental

In the incremental backup strategy, changes made on a document are updated on the full backup. An example is when an edit is done to a document, these changes must also be made to the full backup to ensure that the backup and local data versions are the same so that in case of data loss, the backup will have everything. An important caveat when doing this type of data backup is to avoid implementing it manually as much as possible. Learn how you can automate the incremental backup strategy.

Differential backup

This strategy is almost similar to incremental backup with only a slight difference, whereby all data that has undergone changes since the full backup will always be copied again.

Implementing data backup

There are two factors that you should consider when implementing a data backup plan as a practice owner. These are the Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and the Recovery Time Objective (RTO). The decision on how to implement the data backup depends on the resources available.

Recovery Point Objective (RPO)

This involves the maximum period that a practice owner is willing to lose data in case of data loss. In simple terms, it is the frequency a practice owner is willing to backup their data. This can be done in real-time, hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly, depending on the resources available in a practice. It is important to note that the more frequent backup is, the more secure your data as a practice is, and the more expensive and resource-intensive it becomes.

Recovery time objective (RTO)

This is the time it takes to restore your data after data loss. The more fast a system is in restoring your data, the more effective and expensive it becomes.

Where to backup your data

Do not, nder any circumstance, backup your data on the same machine that your holds your work or the data you want to be backed up. Here are some solutions on where to save your data:

Cloud storage: This involves subscribing to online cloud storage services to a certain storage capacity where you will be backing up your data. This method is one of the safest and cheapest methods available.

USB disks or external hard drive: This involves backing up to your local hard drives and USBs that are then detached to the source machine. This is one of the most convenient methods.

Network shares and NAS: This method involves using centralized NAS (Network Attached Storage), SAN (Storage Area Network) for data

How the Lucca Data Vault backs up your data

The Lucca Data Vault leverages both local and cloud based storage. This allows for quick recovery of files with the security and stability of cloud storage. We perform Full & Incremental Backups every hour on all data protected with the Lucca Data vault.

RPO – The Lucca data vault runs every hour on the hour. That means in a worst case scenario Lucca backups your data at 1:00pm and a major disaster occurs at 1:59pm. Meaning that 59 mins worth of data is lost. Where most local hard drive only back ups run one a week or once a day if you’re lucky. This greatly reduces your total potential data loss risk.

RTO – We replicate your entire environment to the Lucca cloud. We then install a Lucca Data Vault icon onto key workstations, reception, practice manager and tech station workstations. Should your server crash you simply click on the Lucca data vault icon and your back up in running in minutes instead of weeks or days! This includes your reminder service and payment services as well. You can be live in the Lucca cloud in minutes should disaster strike.

Interested in Lucca protecting your data?

Go to www.Lucca.vet and fill out our contact form to get started today for as little as $150 per month!

Clint Latham

Director of Veterinary Data Security

www.Lucca.vet