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Backing Up Data

Backing up patient data is critical, as well as a requirement for HIPAA compliancy. You should establish a regular backup and recovery plan. This will ensure that patient data is protected, even if there is accidental data loss, database corruption, hardware failures, theft, or other disasters (floods, fires, etc). 

Backups should be frequent, stored securely, and tested regularly to ensure quality. We suggest backing up data to a high quality encrypted USB flash drive, using an online backup service, or both. Then verify the quality by restoring backups to your home computer or another location.

Note: It is recommended to run an Open Dental Backup only when other users are not working in Open Dental. Otherwise, users may experience a "UE: Table 'procedurelog' is read only" error that will disappear when the backup is complete.  

There are several backup options to consider when making a backup plan. 

What needs to be backed up?

  • \\SERVER\mysql\data\  - The database that stores patient data.
  • \\SERVER\OpenDentImages\  - The A to Z Folders that store files you scan or import. See Data Paths

Backup frequency:  When making decisions on how often to backup data, ask yourself this question: If your server/computer goes down, and you have to restore your backup to a temporary server, how many days of data you do want to re-enter? Then plan a backup schedule accordingly.

Backup Devices and Encryption: Backed up data should be Encrypted so that patient data remains secure, for example in cases of theft or loss. 

  • Encrypted USB drives: We recommend purchasing a few and rotating them. An example is www.ironkey.com
  • Hardware Encrypted Drives (Recommended), such as those offered by Apricorn. Data is encrypted by a dedicated processor located on the encrypted drive instead of using the computer's processor. Hardware encryption devices run independently of the operating system and any additional software. Data is protected from unauthorized access by unique pins. 
  • Software Encryption, such as BitLocker. This will entail encrypting the data first, then backing it up. Software encryption uses the computer's resources to encrypt data. Software must be updated, or reinstalled if you change operating systems.
  • CDs: Can cause problems and we don't recommend them except for long-term archival.

RAID is not a backup solution and should not be relied on for backups or disaster recovery plans.

Backup Reminder
Every month, Open Dental will remind you to think about your backup plan because it is an absolutely critical issue that everyone must think about. This window will popup automatically.

For each question, you must check at least one answer. Click OK to close the window.

Note: To disable the monthly backup reminder, see Security.

You also need to keep old copies of some of your backups. You can make separate weekly backups to a different flash drive. When it fills up, put it in storage, and get another one. If you are using imaging, then manually backup the C:\OpenDentImages folder to CDs, DVDs, or removable hard drives.

A good use of archiving would be to use a file versioning systems which allow you to go back to a specific date and time and restore files that might have been accidentally deleted or modified. These programs can typically backup to multiple locations safely and securely. 


Open Dental Software 1-503-363-5432