Larry Emmott, DDS
The most devastating computer failure for most dental offices would be a hard-drive failure of the server. If the hard drive failed or was damaged, data could be lost, and it could take days to get the computer system running properly again.
Many safeguards are designed to prevent hard-drive failures and to help you recover data. However, one of the best safeguards is to have a mirrored RAID (random array of inexpensive disks) hard drive installed on the server.
A mirrored hard drive automatically simultaneously copies all data to two hard drives, so the office has an up-to-the-second back-up copy of everything. A RAID system allows everything to continue normal operations without even a moment`s confusion. In the past, a server drive failure could have resulted in several days of disruption until a new drive was found, installed, formatted, and restored from back-up. That is assuming the office had a good back-up. All too often, back-ups are not done or are not done properly. When this occurs, data can be lost forever.
Until recently, RAID systems were expensive and required the use of costly SCSI-based drives. It is now possible to mirror inexpensive IDE drives using a product called DupliDisk from Arco Computer Products.
DupliDisk allows the computer to think it is writing information to only one drive when, in fact, it is writing identical information to two drives. If one of the drives goes down, a second completely formatted, fully bootable drive, that contains all of the data will automatically take over. DupliDisk requires no user intervention and there is no lag time or lost data.
A mirrored hard drive will provide great on-site data protection, but does not provide off-site back-up. If the server was destroyed by fire or was stolen, the data would go with it. Therefore, dental offices still will need to do an off-site back-up. The industry standard is to use a daily back-up tape with a complete copy of the server hard drive and to store the tape off-site.
Another method is to set up one of the mirrored hard drives in a removable bay. Then the second hard drive can be taken off-site each night. This method is very convenient, but hard drives are fairly delicate and easy to damage when moving around.
A third option is to transfer the critical data through the Internet to a special back-up Web site or home computer located off-site. This method is convenient but slow.
To add IDE disk mirroring to a system requires a $225 DupliDisk and a second hard drive. Large 13GB or more IDE hard drives are now less than $200. So, for less than $500, you can add a great insurance policy to your data-protection system.
For more information on DupliDisk, contact Arco Computer Products, Inc. by phone at (954) 925-2688, by fax at (954) 925-2889, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or check out the Web site at www.arcoide.com.
The future is coming and it will be amazing!
Dr. Larry Emmott is a practicing general dentist in Phoenix, Ariz. He also is an entertaining, award-winning professional speaker. He has addressed hundreds of professional groups. He is a featured speaker at the Las Vegas Institute, and is a member of AADPA. He has written many articles for national magazines on dentistry, computer use, and management. He produces a monthly newsletter on management and computer use in the dental office. He has developed and maintains an Internet Web site at www.drlarryemmott.com; his e-mail address is email@example.com. Dr. Emmott is a member of the American Academy of Dental Practice Administration.