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Many organizations plan their Microsoft Dynamics CRM deployment and spend a significant amount of money deploying it but fail to make a backup maintenance plan. As a CRM expert, you must be able to come up with a proper backup that will not slow down or interfere with performance or work.

What can result in data loss?

Data loss can happen in several ways:

  • Computer/Virus attacks
  • Human error
  • System /Hardware Malfunctioning
  • Software Corruption
  • Natural Disaster

What to consider when planning a CRM database backup?

  1. Backup location:

    Avoid having your backup at the same site as your CRM database. Although it’s convenient to have the backup close by, human errors or virus attacks on your site or network will render the backup pointless. If there is any disaster, both your database and backup could be affected. It’s better to take the time to restore your backup than to end up with nothing.

  2. Proper backup schedule:

    Schedule your backups in such a way to minimize data loss. This could range from hourly to weekly. Backup as often as you deem fit, depending on the frequency and volume of your work. In any case, it’s wise to perform a backup frequently. You can either schedule to run the backup automatically or manually.

  3. Create an emergency recovery plan:

    Nobody wishes for a reason to perform a recovery, but that’s the reason why we backup in the first place. No matter the cause of data loss, you must lay out a plan for recovery.

  4. Test your backup and recovery strategy:

    After creating your backup and recovery plan, run through the recovery plan to ensure that if a failure occurs, you can recover as much data as possible. We also recommend checking if your backup policy backs up the correct data (Do a test restore to a test database to ensure your backup works as expected).

  5. Adequate resources on a database server:

    Ensure that you have enough memory and CPU on the SQL server to cope with the workload, so a backup does not affect performance and productivity.

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Backing up Dynamics CRM requires a solid approach. With a strategy that combines local and cloud backups, you're guaranteed against any disaster.

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Which backup method is the best to do? 

To determine which backup method to use, get acquainted with the various backup methods, such as when and how to use them. As a side note, a Dynamics CRM database backup is best carried out using SQL Server Management Studio.

Your backup method will mainly depend on how large your database is and the rate at which it grows. Let’s take a look at the backup methods available:

  • Full Backup

This is the starting point of all other backups as it contains the full copy of your data files in the database. However, it is time-consuming and best done when the database is not too large.
Dynamics CRM Full backup

  • Differential Backup

This backup contains all the changes in the data files from a previous full backup. Although, over time, a differential backup may become larger than the original full backup. When restoring, the full backup (base) is restored first and then followed by the most recent differential backup.

Dynamis Differential Backup

  • Transaction Log Backup

A transaction log is a sequential record of all changes made to the database while the actual data is contained in a separate file. With transaction log backups, you can recover the database to a specific point in time (for example, prior to entering unwanted data), or to the point of failure. A full backup must be done first before transactional log backups can be carried out.
Dynamics Transaction Log Backup

How do you perform a backup?

  • Open SQL Management Studio on the system running Microsoft SQL Server
  • Log in using  a user that has access to your CRM database
  • Expand the Databases
  • Right-click on the database you wish to backup, then select Tasks -> Backup
  • On the popup window, ensure that the selected database is the right one
  • Choose your preferred backup plan
  • Select your destination folder
  • Click on Ok and wait for your database to complete.

Ps: Change the default destination folder; otherwise, it will save to the same location as your data files, and the whole idea of backup will be defeated.

Also, you can schedule a backup to run at any specific time you wish.

Create a SQL Server scheduled backup by using SQL Server Maintenance Plan

  • Expand Management in SQL Management Studio
  • Right-click on Maintenance Plan and select Maintenance Plan Wizard
  • Give it your preferred name and click Next
  • In the Select Maintenance Plan Tasks, select the Backup Database option and the Check data integrity option. (The check data integrity task performs internal consistency check of the data and index pages within the database)
  • Then configure the maintenance task by specifying a database for backup and the backup options. In the Define Backup Database Task window also check the Verify backup integrity option.
Note: Verify that the SQL Server Agent service is running and set to automatic. The maintenance plan depends on this service to run.

No matter the backup plan you decide on, use the right strategy and follow best practices for backing up your Dynamics CRM. This will help you avoid the monetary and productivity loss associated with CRM disaster recovery.

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Written by Daniel Burla Employee @ SherWeb

A versatile IT Business and Technical Analyst with 10+ years participating in IT projects of the main business solutions in the market (SAP, Oracle and Dynamics 365). That allows me to confidently provide innovative advice on complex issues, articulating options and solutions regardless the chosen platform.