Backing up patient data is critical, as well as a requirement for HIPAA compliance. 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 a secure, off-site computer not connected to the office network (e.g., home computer or another location) to prevent overwriting the live database.

  • 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.
  • If using a laptop to verify backups, turn off the MySQL service when closing out of Open Dental. If a laptop goes to sleep while MySQL is running, it may cause corruption in the database.

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

Also see: Supplemental Backups

What to Back Up


At minimum, backups should be made daily. If you at least have good daily backups, then the worst-case scenario is having to re-enter one day of data. Incremental backups throughout the day would be a little bit better, if you have that ability. Backing up while the database is in use is possible, but only with certain software, and it can get complicated.


Backed-up data should be encrypted so that patient data remains secure, for example in cases of theft or loss. See Encryption of Data at Rest and in Transit.

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


You also need to keep old copies of some of your backups. You can make separate monthly 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 system which allows you to go back to a specific date and time to restore files that might have been accidentally deleted or modified. These programs can typically backup to multiple locations safely and securely.