Tuesday, March 31st is known as World Backup Day, the day when people and organizations alike are invited to learn about the increasing role of data in our lives and the importance of regular backups. A practice's backup "hygiene" is key to saving the data and patient health information stored in the MacPractice database, including any x-rays, digital radiography, insurance card scans, or other images that you have attached to your patients' accounts. As always, if you have any questions, our tech support department would be happy to verify an adequately set up backup configuration for your office.
When to Backup
MacPractice recommends a backup for each day of the week that your practice is open. If your office has a massive backup that your computer can't manage each day, speak with our support department so we can set up the best configuration possible. In general, we recommend creating a daily backup of your MacPractice database to the local hard drive and an external device. We also recommend an off-location backup, such as to a secure cloud location or an external device kept out of office should the worst happen.
Where to Backup
While a backup can be kept somewhere on the computer, a backup should always be saved off the computer as well, such as an external hard drive or thumb drive. Ideally, there will be an external hard drive for every day of the workweek. For example, if your office does business five days a week, you should have five external disks that hold at least four backups each. It is imperative that when dealing with rotating external disks that they are clearly labeled and changed out when necessary.
MacPractice Inc. does not backup office data. It is the responsibility of the office to configure backup times and locations. We recommend that quarterly, your office attempt a restore of a backup to verify the integrity of the files.
How to Retain Backups
Retain the backups on an external device. Retain at least one backup from the following periods:
- The last two business weeks or ten business days
- The end of every month
- The end of every quarter
- The end of the fiscal year
Your Backup Scheme should include a destruction process where older backups are archived, destroyed, or removed. Regularly removing older, unnecessary backups will help maintain space on the MacPractice Server drives and help prevent a Low Disk Space or Full Disk error.
If your server computer or external drives is compromised or lost, encrypting your backups will ensure that any PHI (Protected Health Information) is inaccessible without the encryption password. You'll never be able to restore a backup file without the encryption password - not even MacPractice Support can bypass encryption security. Always securely store this password.
While Time Machine can back up your MacPractice software installation as a program on your machine, it isn't a primary way to save information. Time Machine causes performance issues if used on the server, as it runs throughout the day. Another problem with Time Machine is that backing up large backup files from MacPractice, and other sources on the computer will fill up space rather rapidly on a disk drive. This will make the server and terminal computers slower.
Cloud and Network Backups
MacPractice highly recommends against backing up over a network volume, mounted as a disk (such as backing up to a cloud-based location). If you wish to save a backup to a cloud-based source, such as DollyDrive, create the backup locally on the server first and then send the file to the cloud. This process is faster and more reliable.
Enable FileVault on every computer that handles electronic patient health information as an extra layer of security for the entire machine. To set up this process, please visit our support page.
Your office should be prepared for multiple adverse outcomes and have a HIPAA Disaster Recovery Plan in place. Part of this plan includes where you store external disks when not in use. External hard drives and thumb drives should be stored somewhere secure, such as an office safe or lockbox. Ideally, the location should also be water and fireproof. To learn more about a HIPAA Disaster Recovery plan, you can visit the Department of Health and Human Services or HIPAA.com.