Backups are one of the most important things that you always make sure is on the priority list to check, even more so now that all of the SIMS data lives in a single database file. Of course we are all used to verifying our backups and running regular test restores, although since the migration from the MS SQL 2000 server engine to the MS SQL 2005 engine, running a test restore and attaching the SIMS .net database seems to be impossible.
Most schools will most likely be using the built in tools for creating a database backup, such as the System Manager backup or by using the DBAttach method. When you use the automated backup provided by these tools. The database engine conveniently compresses the .bak files into .zip files.
This was never really an issue when the databases where attached to a SQL 2000 server, as the zip files were created by a routine from some dll files that were added to the computer when SIMS .net was first setup. It used to be possible to right click on the zip file and choose Extract, the file would extract just fine.
But since the migration to SQL 2005 server, the zip files that are created by the database engine can't be unzipped using the built in Windows method. Whilst I don't know what has changed in this process, the end result is that System Administrators are left with the horrible thought that the zip files are corrupted.
Fear not, after a number of tests, my colleagues and I have discovered that there are 2 shareware applications that seem to be able to read the format of the new zip files and successfully extract the .bak files so that you can test restore.
Now that you can get access to the bak file that System Manager or DBAttach created you can now successfully restore your database after your server has failed.
NOTE: It is good practice to restore your SIMS .net backups from your backup media one a weekly basis, this will ensure that your backup media is working correctly with no data errors, it will also ensure that you can restore a database correctly should the worst happen.
If you can, restore your SIMS .net database to a different SQL instance, so as not to cause problems for your SIMS users.
Always use the latest version of DBAttach.exe, use the command switch /restoreUI to allow you to restore a .bak file easily. When using the restoreUI switch, it is important to note that it will attempt to overwrite the existing database file in the SQL instance, that is why it is important to attach to a different SQL Server or SQL Instance on the same server.