Published by Tom Geller | Friday, February 15th, 2013
You do back up your computer, don’t you? It’s an easy process, even if you don’t use a utility like the Apple Time Machine: you simply move a bunch of files from your one place to another.
But if you try that with your Drupal site, you’ll leave out the most important part—your site’s content and configuration. That’s because those parts live in your site’s database, which is stored far away from the site’s files. The solution is to export the database as a file, then save that file along with everything else. Doing that manually can be a pretty awkward procedure, but the Backup and Migrate module makes it easy. Here’s what I do:
Install Backup and Migrate the usual way (shown in the section “Expanding a Site’s Capabilities with Modules” in Drupal 7 Essential Training).
Define where you want Drupal to store private files by clicking Configuration > File system. Be sure to secure the destination by following the link on that page. If you don’t, your raw database file could become accessible to everybody.
Configure Backup and Migrate to save the database into that directory. (I set up a schedule to save it once a day.) The video Backing up with the Backup and Migrate module in Drupal 7 Advanced Trainingshows you how.
Save that database file when you save the rest of the Drupal files.
A conservative strategy: Backup and Migrate set to save six months of backups.
One last step: Be sure to practice restoring from that backup to make sure it works, as a bad backup is the same as no backup! Note that this is not the same as a straightforward MySQL export: you’ll need to use the Drupal Backup and Migrate module itself to reestablish your site. But while unusual, I’ve found this procedure to be far easier (and more foolproof) than noodling with my site’s Drupal database manually.
Q: Access 2010 is touted as a simple product that you can use even if you’re not a database expert. What features can inexperienced users take advantage of to get up and running with Access?
A: While getting started with Microsoft Access isn’t as easy as sitting down and typing a document in Word, Access provides you a variety of tools to get started building your own database solution. First, take advantage of the sample database templates, such as the contact management tools. If you’re starting from scratch, Access’s Application Parts and Quick Start menus have predesigned tables and forms to provide the most common fields and configurations. And last, a new feature is that field data types and validation options are now available right on the Ribbon so you can easily see them and take advantage of proper database techniques.
Q: An issue most businesses wrestle with is how to get data out of databases and into the hands of busy managers in a format they can use and understand. What kind of tools does Access 2010 have for presenting data to the decision makers who need to act on it?
A: It’s easy to create an attractive, modern-looking report just by clicking a few buttons. Click on a table or a query containing the information you want on the printed report, and click the Report button. Voilà, a report ready to send to the printer. And if you want more control, including subtotals or your logo, click on the Report Wizard and answer its questions. Once you’re done, you can further refine the appearance by dragging the reports table cells to rearrange and resize them. Last, if you need the data moved into another data reporting tool, it’s easy to export into .xls, .csv, .txt, .xml, and .html using the Data ribbon.
Q: For users migrating from Access 2003 to Access 2010, they’ll have a new interface experience. What can you tell folks who might be nervous about the Ribbon interface? How has the Ribbon improved from 2007 to 2010?
A: The Ribbon is one of the best things to ever happen to Microsoft Office. In fact, when Microsoft polled users about what features they wanted to see, 90 percent of them were already in the program, but buried three menus deep. The Ribbons give you instant access to just about every feature in the program, yet are nice to look at and easy to understand.
One of the best Ribbon improvements from 2007 to 2010 is that they unburied all your table-building tools, so that you don’t have to go into Design view to use techniques like data types and validation rules.
Q: What’s your favorite feature in Access 2010 and why?
A: My favorite feature in Access 2010 is the new Record Validation tool. You’ve always been able to determine if acceptable data was entered into one field, but now you can compare data within two fields in a record to make sure your data was entered correctly. For example, you can now confirm that the “End Date” is after the “Start Date.” For us nitpicky data analysts, that brings comfort and security.
But on second thought, my favorite feature may just be the new and improved Macro builder interface. You no longer have to know code to build macros!