Understanding Claris FileMaker backup’s

Do you have a strategy for protecting your business using FileMaker backups?


Here at Compass Data, we always recommend that clients have a documented back up strategy for their systems no matter how simple. What would the impact be to the business if you lost all your data? How much business missed and revenue lost?

Typically, there are two options when it comes to system backups:

    • Resilience approaches such as real time fail-overs using applications such as MirrorSync
    • Simple data backups to ensure that nothing is lost during any system failure and associated downtime.

Where your FileMaker system runs your business, such as an ERP or stock management system, then a resilience approach is the recommended way to go and we can help with this. Click here to talk to one of the team

For scenarios where the loss of a system is an inconvenience rather than a critical failure, a more simple data backup approach is suitable.

FileMaker Backup options

Since Claris FIleMaker FM 19.5.1, several different data backup options have been available:

    • Automatic backups. FileMaker Server automatically creates a backup of the databases once a day at the same time. Seven backups are stored before automatic deletion begins.
    • On-demand backups. Users can create an on-demand backup at any time. On-demand backups are listed on the Backup/Auto-Backup and On-Demand tab. On-Demand backups are preserved by default.
    • Scheduled backups. Users create a custom backup schedule that defines which databases are backed up and how often they are backed up. Every time the schedule runs, FileMaker Server checks whether the selected databases have changed since the last backup. FileMaker Server creates a full copy of the databases that have changed and creates hard links to the backed-up databases that have not changed.
    • Progressive backups. FileMaker Server starts by creating a full backup of all hosted databases. After the initial full backup is complete, the Database Server only copies the changes from the hosted file to the progressive backup folder. Progressive backups can run more quickly than a backup schedule, with less impact on server performance. Progressive backups keep two copies of the backup files: a time-stamped copy that is available for you to use as a backup, and an in-progress copy that gets updated with the accumulated changes. The default save interval for the timestamped copy is five minutes, meaning the time-stamped copy is updated every five minutes.

 Use any combination of these backups to ensure a comprehensive backup strategy for your hosted databases.

Automatic backups, on-demand backups, and scheduled backups create full copies of databases that have changed. Progressive backups begin with a full backup, subsequent progressive backups only copy file changes.

During backups, the databases are paused and become unavailable to users. Backup speeds are impacted by the number of databases and the sizes of the databases being backed up as well as the environment. Fewer and smaller databases back up more quickly than many large databases.

Parallel Backups

FM 19.5 introduced Parallel Backups to reduce downtime and improve performance. Traditionally, FileMaker has used a linear, one-by-one approach to perform backups. Now, with parallel backups, the server can backup multiple files at once, greatly speeding up the process. Simply put, parallel backup is the backing up of multiple files simultaneously across multiple processors or CPU threads. Think about queuing to board a plane. If only one gate is open a queue forms as every passenger waits their turn to be processed. If a second gate opens, half the queue moves towards that gate and are processed more quickly. Applying this to backups, our two threads can process one file each, greatly reducing the time and improving the overall efficiency of the backup process.

To perform a backup in Parallel, FileMaker Server 19.5 makes use of transaction data from FileMaker Pro 19.5 and FileMaker WebDirect to separate related backup files into groups. Each of these groups is then backed up in its own thread during the process.

Compared to backing up files sequentially, you’ll see definite performance improvements.

Parallel backups can be used with all backup options except Progressive backups.

Find out more about FileMaker backups, chat to our team using the form below or check out the Claris website.