Remember to back-up” is the sort of advice that’s taken for granted like “remember to wash behind your ears” and “don’t feed the monkeys”. It’s easily given and just as easily shrugged off. “Whatthehell, it won’t happen to me”. Really? You’ve never had to search for a phone number or address, or re-construct a document that should have been there? At a low level, it’s annoying and wastes time. A worst case scenario may lose you a job or a business. Let me give a few facts and figures.

• 31% of PC users have lost all their data as a result of things beyond their control – electricity surges or outages, to name a couple.
• A hard drive crashes somewhere every 15 seconds.
• The overall, average failure rate of hard disk drives is 100%. To put it another way, all hard disks fail at some time.
• 60% of business data is held on desktop or notebook PCs.
• 40% of small-to-medium sized businesses don’t back-up at all.
• 15% at least of laptops are stolen or suffer system failures.
• 78% of data loss in Ireland is caused by hardware or system malfunctions.

Despite technological advances, data loss statistics continue to rise globally. A network back-up does the work for you every day. But, even though you may be making backups on a daily, weekly and monthly cycle, payroll requires a different approach. Point-In-Time should be the catchword here. The key to security for payroll data is the “point-in-time” back-up which is discussed below. It is of vital importance to understand that your payroll data is not the same as your account’s data (ledger systems).You will note, I am sure, that in the event of data corruption, disk full or some similar system disaster – production of invoices, statements etc. will wait, whereas it is extremely unlikely that your employees would wait calmly for their pay and payslips.
A number of people are moving from single user systems to networks or client-server systems; this does not relieve you of the responsibility of taking security copies of payroll data. A general rule-of-thumb when approaching the question of when to take a back-up of payroll data is that it should be done at all critical points in the payroll cycle (thus “point-in-time” backup).

We would strongly recommend doing back-ups as follows:

1. Immediately prior to Period Update.
2. Prior to timesheet calculation.
Note: If a large number of timesheets are being keyed in, then it is advisable to do a back-up more than once a day (e.g. teabreak and lunch-time).
3. At year end.
4. Prior to loading a Software Update.

The idea of “point-in-time” back-up is best illustrated by the following example:

1. Company runs it’s payrolls each Wednesday morning and updates its payroll prior to running.
2. An error is discovered in the previous payroll period.
3. No back-up of the payroll has been taken and the only one is the system back-up taken by the system manager two days previously.
4. The consequence is the restoration of the payroll data from the system backup which is two days out of date, necessitating re-keying all the data.

Today it is far easier to take a backup quickly onto a single memory key (usb stick), than it was in the past when a back-up sometimes spanned 10 or more floppy disks. So take advantage of this fact and take frequent back-ups, it could be a lifesaver!!