Automating backups for ACT! by Sage

One of the problems we notice is that users are not sure of the different options available to create and maintain proper backups of their ACT! data, so I thought it would provide value to list them here.

As ACT! by Sage database uses a SQL engine, it can't be backed up by simply copying the files or by using a normal backup product. The SQL service keeps a lock on the database as soon as Windows starts, even if no-one is logged into ACT!

Manual Backup

The standard function to backup a database from ACT! is: File | Backup. See:
How to back up and restore an Act! database

ACT! Scheduler Backup

Users should automate these to make sure data isn’t lost if it becomes damaged through a PC failure, virus or other problem.

In ACT! 2005 (7.0) to ACT! 2007 (9.0), only the Premium version can automate this with the ACT! Scheduler
In ACT! 2008 and later, automated maintenance and backups are also available with non-Premium builds    
You can do the attached files separately if you need to for performance or space reasons

If running Premium 2005-2007 or ACT! 2008 or later, have a look at this article to automate backups:
How to use the Act! Scheduler to automatically back up your Act! database

If backing up with the Scheduler on another PC from the database or backing up to another PC, see:
Automatic Backup Scheduled in the Sage ACT! Scheduler and Set To Save To a Network Location Hosted on Another Machine Fails

It's always good to do regular test restores to ensure the backup is working.
You can do this with use File | Restore
Then select Restore_As to restore the backup to a different name, location or onto a different machine

It's also useful to occasionally check that the "Backup" folder under the database supplemental files folder is empty. This is where ACT! places temp files during the backup process. If the backup fails, they remain there and will be included in any subsequent backups. You can delete any files in this folder unless a backup is currently in operation.

Batch File Backup

If not running Premium and not upgrading, you can do it this way.
Create an ACTBackup.bat file with Notepad as follows:

REM - Change these SET Parameters as appropriate for your system 
SET ACTSourceFolder="C:\Act\Database" 
SET ACTDestinationFolder="D:\Backups\Act\Database" 
SET XcopyOptions=/M /E /C /H /O /Y /I 
REM - Stop ACT SQL Service 
REM - Perform copy 
XCOPY %ACTSourceFolder% %ACTDestinationFolder% %XcopyOptions% 
REM - Restart ACT SQL Service 

With the SQL engine stopped, you can use anything to copy/backup the database and supplemental files. You could replace the XCOPY with a command line ZIP or other back-up utility.
Then run the BAT file from the Windows scheduler

While you can't restore to a different name to test it with this method, you can restore to another machine, delete the PAD file and open the ADF so it resets the machine name.

ACT! Email Backup

If using the ACT! Email client, you should also back up it's database as per:
How to Back Up and Restore Your ACT! E-mail Database

Corporate and third-party Backup

Finally, if wanting to use a proper corporate backup product that understands SQL and you have a Premium version of ACT!, you can get the SA Pass utility. This is free in Europe, but does cost in other regions - contact your local Sage office for the pricing and process.

There is a third-party product with more advanced backup and maintenance options: AutoAdmin

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