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Causes of Lytec Database Corruption

 

Causes of Lytec Data Base Corruption 

A White Paper

 From Easy Business Software

In today’s technical medical office environment, advanced technology has made available databases that allow the user secure, safe, and reliable data storage.  One critical factor for reliability of these databases is the environment – a database is only as stable as the equipment and network on which it runs.  In this paper we will look at possible reasons data corruption can occur, in particular looking at the symptoms and the causes.

 There are few symptoms you may look for that can indicate you have data corruption: 

·        While using Lytec, you notice that you are missing data that has not been archived or deleted.

·        There are inconsistencies in the data, such as; bills exist without any detail line items.

·        Running two different reports with the same selection criteria calculates different totals.

·        You are getting database errors, such as, Error 2, 4, 22, 54 and many others.

Easy Business Software has many tools for fixing data corruption.  However, if the source of the corruption is not fixed, your data will most likely get corrupted again.  Since data repair services are not free, they interrupt normal business operations, and otherwise can be costly; finding the source of the corruption is vital in a profitable business environment when chronic data corruption occurs.

 ytec Data Bases thru Version 2005, are based on the Pervasive Data Base, which is a very stable data base.  Version 2006 and later, are based on Microsoft’s SQL Data Base, another very stable database.  Most customers never experience any database issues for years when using Lytec on a stable computer and/or network, some customers do have an occurrence of data corruption once or twice over a several year period, and lastly, a handful of customers have more frequent data corruption errors.  Rarely does a customer have chronic data corruption.  These errors, no matter how frequent or infrequent, are all associated with the issues that are addressed in this White Paper.

There are numerous reasons why data corruption can occur, however, there are also many ways it can be prevented and/or obverted in many cases.  It is important to have the latest updates of Lytec and the Data Base software installed on all of the computers that use Lytec.  Lytec releases periodic updates (service packs) that can be installed to prevent/correct known issues.  This will prevent known issues from occurring on your database that have been solved by the manufacturer.

While it is easy for the inexperienced customer or technician to blame the Lytec software or the Pervasive (or Microsoft) Database for the data corruption, the problem is usually rooted elsewhere.  Just because the software manipulates the databases does not mean that the problem is within the software.  Very rarely a software bug does exist in the software, but rather these bugs are usually only associated with an initial release of a particular version.  Your support representative should be aware of these known issues.

Peer-to-Peer Verses Client/Server Software

The more data that is processed by the computers in your network, the more chances a problem can occur from any of the problems outlined in this White Paper.  To reduce the amount of data that is processed (called Traffic), we highly recommend the Client/Server version of Lytec.  When Lytec reads data in a peer-to-peer network, it must read a section of the indexes and a section of the data area of the database.  All of these sections must be transmitted over the network between the user’s workstation and the computer where the data resides.  If any type of interruption occurs to the process while the database is receiving changes, then the changes may not be incorporated fully in the database.  This can result in various database issues that usually lead to database corruption.  This White Paper discusses those types of problems and they include: power surges or outages, network connectivity problems, improper program shutdowns (which could be caused by power surges or outages), memory errors, and hard disk errors.  Compounding the traffic problem is the number of users connected to a database – more users provides more opportunities for a problem.  The Client/Server software provides a method for the Lytec on the user’s computers to send a short message to the server computer.  The server computer reads the indexes and data sections and then returns the actual data record to the user’s computer.  This reduces the amount of traffic to usually less than 5% of a peer-to-peers’ network traffic.  Reducing the traffic reduces the chances for a problem to occur.

Additional Client/Server considerations are:

·        Use only Windows 2000 or 2003 Server on hardware made for these operating systems.

·        Set the network up as a Domain, not Stand Alone server.

·        Be sure you have also setup DNS correctly for your network topography.

·        Make sure all clients access the network as Domain Users.

·        Be sure all servers are setup with a static IP and that they are listed correctly in the DNS server.

·        Be sure the network location of the database is shared via the File Sharing Management Services on the server and that all users have permissions for FULL CONTROL.

When in doubt about the above settings, consult with your network administrator.

Environmental Issues that Regularly Cause Data Corruption

A computer equipment failure, networking issue, power issue, or operator issue is the usual cause of data corruption.  These causes are discussed in more detail below.

Computer Failures

Computer failures include memory failures, hard disk crashes, power supply failures or other failures within the user’s workstation or on the server/workstation where the database is stored.  These problems are unavoidable.  You should plan on Computer Failures happening in your office – it’s just a matter of time.  That’s why backups are so important to be made on a regular basis.  Additional computer failures can occur because of components in the Windows Operating System being corrupted by errant software, a hardware failure, and virus or worm.  Virus and worm protection are a must if you have internet connectivity, especially if you allow your staff to surf the internet.

Networking Issues

Networking issues cause most data corruption.  Network connectivity is the most vulnerable area of your network.  Network cables can get eaten by rodents, crushed by file cabinets, cut by workmen, stretched by tripping, along with a variety of other physical issues can occur.  Network technicians equipped with the appropriate network cabling diagnosis equipment can easily determine if your cabling meets the specifications of your network cards.  In today’s market, network cable is rated by Category.  Category 5e or 6 are now considered the minimum cable quality required.

Battery backups for network switches, routers, hubs, and/or other networking equipment is a must.  Test your battery backups weekly to ensure they will operate long enough to get your network shut down when a full power outage occurs.

Power Issues

When your local power grid has fluxuations due to storms and/or power outages, you will need to have battery backup equipment on all of your computers and networking equipment.  Otherwise data may not get fully written to the database, causing corruption.

Operator Issues

If the computer operator turns off the computer power without shutting down Lytec, it is the same as a power outage, and therefore can cause data corruption.

If the computer operator uses the Task Manager of Windows to abort the Lytec program, without allowing it to shutdown appropriately, some of the data that was destined for the database may not get written, which again can cause data corruption.

It is crucial that you ensure that all users are disconnected from Lytec before copying, moving or backing up your database.  The proper way to perform a database copy/move/backup depends on the database and version.  You should consult a Lytec certified consultant for assistance.

Additional Reading:

Backing Up Your Data – A White Paper from Easy Business Software

Protecting Your Office from Internet Vulnerabilities

     A White Paper from Easy Business Software - Copyright © 2006  

 

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