Database Backups

Database Backups

It is extremely important that a daily backup of the Practice-Web Dental database be performed and stored in a safe place offsite! It's required by HIPAA and is critical to prevent the loss of data in the event due to hardware failures, database corruption, theft, and disasters.

This backup utility will only back up the patient’s database. If you are scanning or importing documents or images into the Image module, then the FreeDentalImages folder will also need to be independently copied to a backup device like an external hard disk. 

Daily backups of the Practice-Web Database can be stored to any drive on any computer within the network. It is recommended that a USB removable Hard Drive, Memory Stick, flash drive or USB Zip Drive be used to store the daily backup of the Practice-Web Database. 

First Time Setup of the Practice-Web Backup Utility and Backing Up Practice-Web Database 

Before any backups can be made, the default drive and folder must be set. This only needs to be done one time.  

In the lower left, click on the “Manage” button. From within the Manage dialog, click on the “Backup” button.

The “Backup” dialog will open.

Click on the "Browse" button next to the "Backup TO this folder..." message. Your system will open the "Browse for Folder" window. 

Select the Drive and folder where the Practice-Web database will be stored and click on the “OK” button. Then, click on "Save Defaults” button. The backup drive and folder is now set.

Run a Backup

You must have the "Backup" Security permission to run a backup.

The Backup Tool may be used to back up:
  1. Practice-Web Database: The database where your patient data is stored. By default, it is located at C:\MySQL\Data\FreeDental\.
  2. A to Z Folders: Scanned or imported files are stored here. Typically C:\FreeDentalImages. 
The images from FreeDentalImages folder can be backed up with the patient database however, it is recommended to backup separately. Please use an external hard drive to back up the FreeDentalImages folder. It can be set up to back up automatically from Windows scheduler. 

To exclude images from your backup, check the box next to "Exclude image folder in backup or restore."

Backup Steps 

  1. Ensure your backup drive is set as shown at the top of this page and the backup device (external drive, USB, etc.) is plugged into the computer.
  2. Open the Manage Module.
  3. Click Backup. The Backup dialog will launch.
  4. Click Backup. 
  5. The backup will begin with a progress bar dialog. If the backup drive does not have enough space, the backup will stop and a notification will appear.

Cloud Backup

You may use an online backup service. Work with your IT professional to set this up if it's your preferred method.

Encrypt Your Backup

Your backed-up data needs to be encrypted to keep it secure. Work with your IT professional to select the right method for your practice. A few common methods include:
  1. Encrypted USB Drives: If using USB, purchase several and rotate them. See an example of encrypted USB drives on
  2. Hardware Encrypted Drives (Recommended): Data is encrypted by a dedicated processor on the drive instead of by the computer's processor and authentication takes place on the hardware. The device will run independently of the operating system and software. See an example of hardware encrypted drives on
  3. Software Encryption: Software encryption works similarly to hardware encryption, but the computer's resources are used to encrypt data. You will need to keep the software updated and reinstall it if you change operating systems. An example is BitLocker, as covered on
Note: RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) is not a backup solution. An explanation can be found on

Restore Data

Backups should be tested regularly to ensure you can restore properly as needed. Many dentists choose to test their data on their home PC. 

Restore Steps

  1. Make sure you have a working copy of Practice-Web on the computer you're restoring to. You can download the trial version of Practice-Web if need be. Note: The restored database and backed-up database will need to have the same name.
  2. Plug in your data storage device (usually USB) with your backed-up data into the system you're restoring to. 
  3. Start Practice-Web on your restore system by running as an administrator.
  4. Open the Manage Module and click Backup. The Backup dialog will open.
  5. Confirm all three backup paths listed in the Restore section are correct.
    1. Restore FROM: This should display the drive that has your backed-up data. 
    2. Restore Database TO: This should display the path the database is being restored to.
    3. Restore A-Z Images to: This should display the path the images are being restored to.
  6. When all paths are correct, click the "Restore" button. A dialog asking if you want to restore from the backup on the USB drive will display.
  7. Click "Ok" and wait for the Restore to finish, then close Practice-Web.
  8. Restart Practice-Web.
  9. The Data Paths dialog will open. The first line will show the name of your office server. Change it to the name of the computer you're restoring to. Do not make any other changes.
  10. Click "Ok" and the software should open normally. Examine the data to ensure everything is complete.

Archive Your Backup

It's good practice to keep copies of some backups for an extended period of time. For example, taking a monthly backup of data and storing it on a separate USB drive, adding new copies monthly until the drive fills up and then purchasing a new one. The imaging folder can likewise be backed up to a removable hard drive, CD, or DVD. Again, work with your IT professional if you're unsure which process is best for your practice. 

Remove Old Data

The Backup dialogue has a separate tab called "Remove Old Data."  This tool can be helpful if you have a large database and want to eliminate old data from SecurityLog and SecurityLogHash tables. It does not remove clinical or financial data.

Remove Old Data Entries on or Before

Data logs from before the date you enter will be removed.

Backup Before Removing Data

It's a good idea to run a backup before using the tool. Leave the checkbox checked to run a backup.

Backup Connection Settings

  1. Server Name: Enter the name of the computer or server where your database is hosted. If you're using this tool on your server, it may be "localhost."
  2. User: Your MySQL username will go here. It's sometimes set to "root."
  3. Password: Your MySQL password will go here. It's sometimes blank.

Save Defaults

Click the "Save Defaults" button to save your settings for the tool for future use.

Remove Old Data

Clicking the "Remove Old Data" button starts the tool. Do not turn off or restart the computer while it's running. It may take an extended period of time. 

If you need any of the data after the tool has run, use your backup.

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