Backing up your work in TNG

Every now and then, someone tells me that they made a mistake during a GEDCOM import, or that they installed the full version instead of the upgrade, or that something else happened to cause them to lose their data. When that happens, the first thing I ask is always, “Did you have a backup?”

More often than not, however, there is no backup. In fact, I’m surprised at the number of people who have never backed up their data. Even if you never make any mistakes with your data, there’s always the chance that something out of your control could happen, and without a backup, you could lose months or years of work.

The easiest way to do a backup is to log into your TNG Admin area and go into the Utilities section. From there you can back up all the tables at once, or you can do them one at a time. Either way, you should see a date there indicating the last time you did a backup (if you don’t see a date, you’ve never done one!).


While you’re there, it’s also a good idea to back up the table structure (the second tab). If for some reason an upgrade adds a new field in the wrong order or fails to delete an obsolete field, or if a mod you installed is responsible for something like that, then the layout of your backup files might not match the default table structure. If this has happened to you, and if you ever move your site to a new host and try to restore your backups there, you could have a problem. Having a backup of the table structure could save you there.

Once you’ve backed up a table, a file with the extension “.bak” is created in the backups folder on your site. For a little extra insurance, use an FTP program or an online file manager to download those .bak files to your computer for safe keeping.

There are other ways to back up your data, and some might be better than the one I just described, depending on your situation. For example, if your database becomes extremely large (we’re talking more than 100,000 names), then TNG’s built-in backup utility might time out on you. You can read more on these other methods on the TNG Wiki.

Whichever methods you use, make it a point to do backups regularly. If you install an upgrade, do another backup immediately afterward, as a backup done before the upgrade may no longer work completely if the upgrade altered the table structure.

Restoring a backup

Should you find yourself in a situation where you need to restore a backup you made within TNG, just go back to the Admin/Utilities page. As with backups, you can restore all the tables, or any subset you require.

2 thoughts on “Backing up your work in TNG

  1. Thanks for reminding us how important it is to make backups and it is really in TNG. I have worked on my family history for seven years and some times I wonder what I would do if I lost my data. I think I would find another hobby, as it would be such a terrible situation.

  2. Thanks for the reminder to back up. I knew I should do so but never took the time. So, I finally made the plunge and used the TNG backup feature. Piece of cake. Everybody should take the just the few minutes necessary to do so.

    I also decided to try to figure out how to do a backup on my hosting web site, Simply Hosting. Although Simply Hosting backs up your files six ways to Sunday, I felt more comfortable (and they even recommend) making a copy of all of your files and transferring them to your own computer’s hard drive in the event something unforeseen occurred.

    The Backup Wizard on your cPanel site is really easy to use. But, I ran into a glitch that I wanted to share with others. After performing the backup, I discovered that I could no longer access my TNG site with the same username and password that I’ve used the past three years. Simply Hosting was great (as they always are) in helping me figure out what had gone wrong. In the end it was VERY simple. When I transferred my backup file from the Simply Hosting site to my laptop’s hard drive, the back up file that had been created remained in File Manager on the Simply Hosting server. Well, the backup file was quite large (1.3 GB) and it, coupled together with the files currently on the server, pushed me over the file size plan I had purchased from Simply Hosting. Hence, I was unable to access my web site via the TNG log in portal in order to make some additions to my site. Once Simply Hosting figured out what had happened, it was very easy for me to go into File Manager in cPanel and delete the file. Once I deleted the file, it was business as usual.

    It took about a half day to finally figure out what had gone wrong. I made a post to the TNG forum but no one responded with a suggested fix. I then decided to contact Simply Hosting, which is probably what I should have done in the first place since the issue really dealt with the data plan I had purchased on their server. I also copied and pasted the backup file to an external hard drive that I use to store important data. I typically leave it unplugged from my laptop when not in use so that in the event of a lightning strike the external hard drive would not be toasted. Now I am backed up various ways and no longer need to worry (at least I hope I don’t have to) about a loss of data and figuring what other hobby to pursue, since it would be quite painful to lose all the hard work that went into creating my site.

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